Fibre Guide: Alpaca

Alpacas are adorable. Not to be confused with llamas, which are about double the size of alpacas, have different shaped ears and faces. 

Alpaca fibre is super warm, having a similar structure to wool. However, it doesn't have lanolin (making it hypoallergenic), and has a smoother surface so tends to be less scratchy. It's soft, cosy and wonderful to work with.

Alpacas are cute

Having said that though, here's some key things to remember when knitting (or crocheting) with alpaca yarns:

  • It's less elastic than wool, so will grow. Allow some room for stretching in your finished items, as it will loosen over time. 
  • Make sure to swatch! Measure your swatch both before and after blocking for an idea as to how much your project may grow after completion.
  • As the fibre doesn't have such a scaled surface, and tends to have less crimp than wool, it does shed. Expect some fibre loss as you work with it, and this will settle over time. 
  • Putting the yarn (or finished item) in the freezer can help set the fibres in place for less shedding.
  • While it's a smoother yarn, some people find it quite tickly, and don't like it next to their skin. 

Always hand wash yarns containing alpaca - machine washing will cause it to felt. 

Don't let this put you off alpaca, but it always helps to be informed about your fibre content and how they behave.