The alpaca is one of the four species of South American camelides, the others being the llama, the vicuna and the guanaco.
Unlike the vicuña and guanaco that are free-ranging wild animals, the alpaca and llama are domesticated and have lived with humans since prehistoric times.
The alpaca comes from Bolivia and even more from Peru, at the highest altitudes of the Andes (4000-4700 m).
The coat of the alpaca can be black, brownish red, mixed or piebald, or even white. The adult females – which have seasonal pregnancies and a gestation of eleven and a half months – during the rainy season they produce 2.5 kg of wool annually while the male animals produce 4.
The farms that raise alpacas are generally operated by native families that care for their own flocks using traditional methods.
While similar to sheep's wool, but not as prickly, and has no Lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. Alpaca is naturally water-repellent and difficult to ignite.
Huacaya, an alpaca that grows soft spongy fibre, has natural crimp thus making a naturally elastic yarn well-suited for knitting and fabrics. Suri has no crimp and thus is a better fit for woven goods.
Also known as "The Fibre of the Gods," Alpaca was used to make clothing for royalty.
One reason Alpaca wool is so versatile is because of its weight, or lack thereof. Those same microscopic air pockets help to reduce the weight of Alpaca fibres, making Alpaca fabric almost as light as air.
It's simply the best all-weather friendly fibre. Alpaca fibres contain microscopic air pockets, providing great insulation and keeping you warm during the winter. These same air pockets allow for outstanding breathability, thus keeping you cool in the summer.