Ever wonder why people call alpaca fiber the “poor man’s cashmere?”. You may also be wondering, “Why is alpaca fiber so soft? How many types are there? And is it itchy?” Let us explain.
Every year alpaca fiber has been growing in popularity. Nowadays you will see alpaca farms, crocheters, knitters and spinners that love the material because it’s not just affordable but extremely soft and warm. Just like wool, there are different types of alpaca breeds that have various textured fibers. There is also baby alpaca fiber, which is not just produced from baby alpacas.
Over 5,000 years alpacas have been bred across South America and their fiber was used to make clothing only for royalty. Alpacas have been bred to tough out the harsh mountain environments. Usually, a large male alpaca produces 7kg of fiber, with 3kg of very high quality fiber for spinning yarn. The other fleece is used to combine with other fibers to create a woven textile used for alpaca scarves and alpaca throw blankets.
Alpacas are very popular due to their low impact on the environment and very friendly temperament. What’s better than alpacas being economical, soft, lightweight, durable fiber? They don’t cause a large footprint.
So Is Alpaca Fiber Hypoallergenic?
Sheep’s wool contains lanolin, unfortunately it’s what some people are allergic to. Some yarns are treated to remove lanolin, however people may still become allergic to oil. On the other hand, alpacas do not produce any lanolin. Their unique natural fiber is waterproof, making it oil free.
Some people that have sensitive skin may go with non-animal fibers like bamboo and cotton, but you can also add alpaca fiber since it’s hypoallergenic. That is exciting for those who constantly deal with wool allergies.