These funny-looking creatures are becoming a common sight peering over hedges or trotting around farms, and they have long provided us with their exquisite yarn. From baby alpaca throws to couture high fashion garments, alpaca wool is loved for its incredible strength and its delightful softness. Here are 10 things you (probably) didn’t know about alpacas.
1.Alpacas are a species of domesticated camelid originating in the high Andean plains of South America, but are now kept and bred in over 17 different countries worldwide. This is due to their fabulous yarn and the fact that they are pretty low-maintenance animals.
2.There are two types of alpaca: the huacaya (mainly used in woollen processes, for clothes and textiles) and the suri (which has a fleece more suited to worsted weights used in suiting and coats).
3. Alpaca wool fibre comes in 22 natural colours, making them the most colour-diverse animals used by humans.
4.The super softness of the yarn comes from the fact that each fibre has fewer scales than sheep’s wool. This also gives alpaca wool its lustre and smooth-to-touch surface.
5. Sir Titus Salt first introduced alpacas into the British market in 1836, and the yarn was very popular with well-to-to Victorians.
6. The average alpaca produces 2.4kg of fibre each year and they live for around 15-20 years.
7. Archaeologists have discovered alpaca mummies dating back to the 15th Century
8. You can take alpacas for walks, treks and sponsor them. Here’s our friend Ali walking Timmy the Alpaca in the middle of Storm Doris.
9. A baby alpaca is called a cria. Our baby alpaca throws are not made from the fleece of crias, it is just the name given to the extra-fine fibres we use.
10. Alpaca wool was originally used for Incan royalty. It retains its luxurious reputation to this day, whilst also being a practical yarn. Which is why we love it.