Why Alpaca Fiber is so Great
by: NEAFP (New England Alpaca Fiber Pool)
Alpaca Fiber is so Great?
of your customers will immediately fall in love
with your alpacas just because they have such
loveable personalities. Once your animals have
won over their hearts, the conversation will ultimately
evolve to “What are they used for?”. This NEAFP
Note is a short review of the many wonderful qualities
of alpaca fiber in the hope that you can use a
few in explanations to your future customers.
has been a lot of R&D money spent on the development
of synthetic semi-hollow fiber. The reason is
fairly simple. A hollow core fiber weighs less
that the same diameter solid core and because
air is trapped in the core, the fabric warms up
very quickly. As a result, all outdoor enthusiasts
know that apparel made from hollow core fiber
tends to be light weight and much warmer than
their solid core equivalents. Alpaca is a natural
semi-hollow fiber with a fineness that matches
many of the micro-fiber synthetics. Unlike synthetically
engineered micro-fiber, alpaca is produced by
a sustainable process. No animal is killed during
the harvest (such as in goose down) and the alpaca
fiber industry is environmentally friendly.
is really difficult to walk into any outdoor shop
today and pick up a product that is not advertising
moisture wicking properties. Wicking and absorbing
moisture are two different things. Absorbing moisture
is what a sponge does. It keeps taking in moisture
until it becomes saturated and the whole sponge
feels wet. Wicking is when the fabric transports
moisture away from its source to the outside of
a fabric where it is able to evaporate. Wool and
cotton are very absorbent but do not have very
good wicking properties, which is why many people
complain that their feet sweat or feel wet in
wool or cotton socks. Alpaca on the other hand,
has low moisture absorbency with great wicking
properties resulting in better comfort and warmth.
wool, alpaca fleece contains no lanolin, and requires
no chemical-scouring agents for processing. This,
combined with its natural hypoallergenic properties
and softness, makes alpaca garments comfortable,
even for sensitive skin. The softness of Alpaca
over wool of the same micron count is due to a
scale height of 0.4 micron for Alpaca versus 0.8
micron for wool. If you compare an alpaca fiber
to a wool fiber under a microscope, you will find
the surface of the alpaca fiber will be smooth
where the wool fiber will appear to have scales.
The lower scale height creates a smoother, slippery
feel with a less scratchy surface. Alpaca has
a much less prickle factor than merino wool of
the same fineness due to the flatter scales on
the alpaca fiber.
North American Alpaca?
the early 1990’s, the South American fashion industry
on farmers to increase production of white fiber.
The emphasis on breeding only white animals, overgrazing
and poor animal husbandry practices caused the
loss of both natural colors and fineness of the
alpaca fiber in general. Meanwhile the relatively
small North America herd continued to focus on
all characteristics of the alpaca which gave it’s
fiber luxury status. Above all other world markets,
the North American alpaca market is predominately
a breeders market where investment quality animals
are in high demand. This has resulted in farmers
practicing intense selective breeding programs
which all but guarantee the superior properties
in the alpaca over 5000 years ago remains true
in North American Alpaca Fiber.
© Copyright 2005NEAFP (New England
Alpaca Fiber Pool) . No unauthorized duplication
without written consent.