Today’s blog post is all about alpacas!
Last year I joined the Rockford Etsy Team (are you a local artisan and interested in more information? Check here) and came across a woman named Michele who sold handspun alpaca yarn from the alpacas she raises/boards at Dreamswept Alpacas. After placing a few orders, she contacted me in regards to crocheting items from her fiber for her to sell at local market events — the chance to play with gorgeous alpaca fiber, with 100% creative license, and payment in yarn? Um, YES!
I visited her farm with my daughter and met her alpacas and it was wonderful. She’s located in Byron, Illinois, and her alpacas are incredibly friendly, if not the weirdest animals I’ve ever pet! If you’re interested in visiting, all you have to do is give her a call!
The yarn she sells is both hand- and machine-spun, and she has some gorgeous art yarns as well as natural fibers and some with firestar (if you’re not familiar with it, it’s absolutely divine!).
(natural fibers on left and top, firestar on right — it’s the pinkish streak running through)
Here are a few of the items I have made; contact Michele here to check availability and pricing.
Alpaca is one of my favorite natural fibers to work with. It’s hypoallergenic, so it is great for people who want natural fibers but have a sensitivity to sheep wool, and the drape of finished items is so beautiful! Here are some fun-facts about alpacas and their fiber:
- Alpacas were domesticated by the Incas over 6,000 years ago; due to the quality of their fleece, they were most often seen on nobility.
- Alpaca fiber is similar to sheep’s wool, but it is warmer and not as itchy. It also doesn’t contain lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic.
- Alpaca fiber is flame-resistant.
- It is also water-resistant, like wool, but wicks away moisture like cotton. Because of this it is warmer than wool but lighter than cotton in damp environs.
- Alpaca fiber comes in 16 recognized tones that range from white to light rose-grey, and then to dark fawn, and then any combinations thereof. This renders harsh dyeing procedures unnecessary.
- There are two types of alpacas: Suri and huacayas. The differences are noted in their fleece. Suri fiber is long and forms silky dreadlocks while huacayas is similar to that of a teddy bear. 90% of the alpacas in America are huacayas.
- Being related to the llama, alpacas and llamas can successfully cross-breed. The offspring is known as huarizo, which is prized for their longer fleece.
- Alpacas use one area of their living space as a bathroom, and there are many cases of successfully house-trained alpacas.
- They live about 18-20 years.
- Baby alpacas are called ‘crias’.
- Average gestation is 11 months.
- Average fiber harvest is 4lbs per adult per year.
- They are ruminants (like a cow) with three compartment stomachs.
What are your favorite natural fibers to work with? What are your favorite fiber-animals?