About Alpaca Fibre
|Alpaca fibre, once referred to as the Gold of the Andes, or Fibre of the gods, is now an affordable luxury that can be enjoyed right here (wherever you are) in the heart of winter…..and summer! How? Contact us : )
Alpacas are sheared once per year to harvest their renewable resource- buttery soft, ultra warm fibre. An average alpaca shears between 4 and 12 pounds of fibre/year. What gives alpaca fibre its value? Unique characteristics and rarity certainly have a role, however, the prime factor determining the dollar value of a fleece is the fineness or grade. Grade 1 fleece is under 20 microns and is often called Royal Baby alpaca.
Unique among other natural fibres, alpaca comes in 22 recognized natural colors in a range of fineness between 14 and 35 microns. It is buttery smooth and silky as a result of it’s smooth scale structure as seen under a microscope. It is compared more to hair than to sheep’s wool. So those sensitive to the prickle (itch) of wool can often wear good alpaca next to the skin. Alpaca is hypo-allergenic as it contains no lanolin. For this reason many people allergic to wool can wear good alpaca with no adverse reaction. An Australian study found alpaca to be one of the warmest fibres in the world, second only to polar bear fleece. (I am very happy with my alpaca blanket, thank you, someone else can go for the gold on this one :)) Other textile characteristics include superior tensile strength(second only to silk), elasticity, non-flammability- the fiber will not burn unless in direct contact with a flame. Alpaca fibre has low absorption and high wickability meaning it keeps you dry even in damp/wet environments which equals comfortable warmth-PERFECT for our Canadian winters! Alpaca yarn/cloth has a natural brightness or shine, soft handle, and exquisite drapery. It does not pill and maintains its new appearance for a very long time if properly cared for. Alpaca fibre is easy to care for. See care instructions.
Our harvest is considered a rare specialty fibre in the textile world, as are all other natural fibres (cashmere, angora, mohair) except sheeps wool. To give perspective, sheep are raised world wide and in 1994 alone, produced 432,000 tons of fleece (source: Wool International). Alpacas world wide produce approximately 4,000 tons of fleece/year mostly in South America. By virtue of its rarity, alpaca fibre holds its value.
In the global commodity market, fibre prices fluctuate. Recent wool prices were around $2.25/pound; the same high grade alpaca fibre (tops) ready to be spun, sells for about $8. to $12./pound. The beauty of the alpaca world is that we, in North America do not have enough consistent supply to play in that global market. By value adding we become creators of price and do not have to settle for a dictated commodity price that may be below the cost of production, as many other farmers do. By using best practices of a fibre farmer shearing and sorting, by small scale on-farm processing, use of mini-mills or participation in fibre co-ops we can take advantage of local and internet marketing of value added goods, realizing prices up to $50. – $60 /lb. or higher depending on your location, location, location.
What can you do with your raw fleece?
Alpaca Naturally Inc. is a new company that purchases clean, sorted, preferably certified classed fibre. AN inc. has done the research to know what fibre is best suited for specific purposes and can help you unload your sorted, clean fibre and turn it into CASH$$. You then have the opportunity to purchase back at wholesale prices the finished product.
How to prepare fleece for the mill or for sale?
First, be prepared for shearing day. Ensure your animals are as clean as possible. Insist that your shearer, take the time to properly and carefully harvest your annual crop of fibre.
Second, SORT your fleece. This is not difficult. Call Lynn to inquire about courses to learn best practices in fibre farming.
Here are some pictures of what ALL alpaca breeders should know NOT to send to the mill. Sort it out. What you send in directly affects the quality of what you get back….
Look closely at the pictures below…Do you see all the small nubs we call second cuts in these two pictures?
Ask your shearer to take the time and care to avoid cutting the fleece twice. second cuts are not good for the milling equipment and they are certainly not good in the finished product. They pill out. Properly harvested alpaca does not pill.
Next, the tips are too contaminated and hardened with mud and dung. Pure dried mud will break up when you rub it, mixed with dung not so.
This next fleece is too vegetated. If your
fleece crunches, your finished yarn will too. .
The last fleece is stained. Urine contamination and stains are not welcome coloring in our beautiful alpaca product. Please sort it out before sending your fleece for others to handle.
Customers LOVE alpaca products. We just have to get properly processed alpaca
“out there”…… The potential is enormous!
I borrowed a slogan that I found on Gateway Alpacas website (great site) Thank you.
Alpaca- natural elegance, renewable luxury, and sustainable lifestyle!