Alpaca Bouclé from Plymouth Yarns
Baby Alpaca (100% Baby Alpaca from peru)
Alpaca Yarn - what exactly is it?
Alpacas, llamas, vicuñas and guanacos come from South America, primarily Bolivia, Chile and Peru. It is thought that alpacas were originally domesticated from vicuñas in the Andean highlands of Peru more than 6,000 years ago. During the 11th and 12th centuries, alpacas were revered by the Incas, whose husbandry was very sophisticated. The animals were highly selected for abundant fine fiber, and evidence suggests that the quality of fiber then was superior to today's. These years of sophisticated breeding were interrupted by the Spanish conquest of the Incas in the 16th century, when alpacas that were not slaughtered were driven to the higher elevations of Peru and Bolivia, the "altiplano". In the 1800's, alpaca fiber was discovered by the English, and it has been an important worldwide commodity ever since. Peru produces about 90% of the world's alpaca fiber today.
Alpaca fiber is valuable because of its many positive attributes and relative scarcity. It is as soft as cashmere, more durable than merino wool, fine, lightweight and lustrous. Alpacas come in 22 recognized natural colors with many variations and blends, more than any other fiber producing animal. Each year, an adult alpaca produces an average of five to eight pounds of fiber. In North America, alpaca fiber used to be sold almost exclusively to hand-spinners because there were not enough alpacas to make commercial processing economically viable. This changed in 1998, however, when breeders from all over North America formed the Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America, Inc. (AFCNA) to pool and process fiber each year.
Alpacas are a growing part of the modern U.S. agricultural scene; breeding them is gaining popularity as a home business. Alpacas are also used as pets and 4H animals as well as for their luxury fiber. They are easy to train and care for, and are generally healthy and hardy, requiring only basic shelter, shearing, worming and annual vaccinations. Although most breeders enjoy daily contact with their animals, some people buy alpacas and board them with another breeder. Some people show their alpacas in showmanship, halter, obstacle and fleece classes. Alpacas are also used to demonstrate agility or the use of fiber at fairs and other exhibitions. They are excellent for PR and community service, such as visiting schools or nursing homes. They're shy, but generally well-mannered, and their charm and great looks bring smiles to everyone's faces.