HERE'S THE STITCH
Alpaca fiber is quickly becoming one of the finest materials for the clothing and fashion industry. It is luxurious to the touch, extremely warm, lightweight, and just feels good against the skin. Alpaca fiber or fleece comes in 22 natural shades.
Alpaca fiber is sought after for many of its fine qualities. It has a high thermal capacity making it the perfect material for socks, hats, headbands, scarves, mittens, sweaters, shawls, and blankets. This fiber is much, much warmer and more durable than sheep wool. It's also free of any oils or lanolin- common skin irritants found in wool. Alpaca fiber is used for knitting, felting, and crafting. Other products can be made from this fiber such as dryer balls, stuffed animals, rugs, bedding, and toys.
FROM FELTING TO FASHION
There are two breeds of alpacas - Huacaya (wuh-KAI-ya) and suri (SUR-ee). We have only Huacaya on our farm currently. The appearance of their fiber is dense, crimped, and wooly. They look like big teddy-bears when in full fleece. They are the most popular type of alpaca and their fleece is best suited for knitting and felting. These attributes make it a highly sought after product. The other alpaca breed is the Suri which looks like dreadlocks - long, pencil-like, non-crimped locks. Their fiber is often compared to cashmere which makes it an exquisite choice for high-end fashion products.
SHEARING AND CARDING AND ROVING- OH MY!
Alpaca fiber is processed after the spring shearing in Michigan. The fiber is removed and it creates what is called a blanket. This blanket of fleece is skirted which removes the sand, dirt, and vegetable matter. It is then washed and dried. This material goes through a carding machine. The carder aligns individual strands of fiber, allowing the production of roving or batts. Rovings can be further processed into yarn or bagged as loose roving. Batts can be used in this form, or further processed into felt. Alpaca yarn can be 100% alpaca or blended with other fiber such as wool, silk, bamboo, angora, or mohair. It can be dyed to create a variety of beautiful colors, though the authentic colors of the alpacas are often preferred for their natural appearance. Alpaca fiber is purchased by individuals, hand-spinners, cottage fiber markets, and for commercial production.
Our farm’s goal is to have healthy, happy animals that produce the highest quality fiber. As breeders, we strive for excellence in the fineness, density, and uniformity of the fleece. This is attained by continually improving their health through the highest quality nutrition, careful breeding practices, and providing a stress free farm environment.