Alpaca fleece is the natural fiber harvested from an alpaca. It is light or heavy in weight, depending on how it is spun. It is a soft, durable, luxurious and silky natural fiber. While similar to sheep’s wool, it is warmer, not prickly, and has little lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic.
Alpaca is naturally water-repellent and difficult to ignite. Huacaya, an alpaca that grows soft spongy fiber, has natural crimp, thus making a naturally elastic yarn well-suited for knitting. Suri has far less crimp and thus is a better fit for woven goods. The designer Armani has used Suri alpaca to fashion men’s and women’s suits. Alpaca fleece is made into various products, from very simple and inexpensive garments made by the aboriginal communities to sophisticated, industrially made and expensive products such as suits.
- Alpaca fibre is generally fine but with some guard hair
- Has less prickle factor than most other fibered animals
- Is compatible with either the woollen or worsted manufacturing systems
- Has excellent insulative or thermal qualities
- Has a rich silky sheen which has high visual appeal in the apparel industry
- Is 30% warmer than the same weight of Merino wool
- Is 4 times more abrasion resistant than Merino wool
- Is stronger than wool and does not pill in the better quality animals
- Contains no grease, oil or lanolin and does not smell
- Is bulky but will spring back when squashed
- Does not retain water and can resist solar radiation
- Comes in 22 different colours
- Is lightweight and incredibly soft
The Suri represents about 7% of the total alpaca population in the UK and although most suri’s are white, breeders are now regulary breeding for colour – black, fawn and brown are now seen in the show ring. Suri alpacas have extraordinary vigour, intelligence, ease of breeding and adaptability to our variable climate. Suri fibre is coveted by the fashion industry and loved by the hand spinner. Its easy to understand why:
- softness of cashmere & eye catching silky lustre
- incredible warmth durability & suitability for dyeing different colours
- High fashion fabric for mens and womens designer clothing
- Luxury apparel, coats, jerseys and display items
- Specialty interior fabrics and textiles
The qualities of a great fleece can be categorized as: Fineness – a lower micron means better handle or softness A solid white fleece is a more commercial colour as it can be dyed to a broader range of colours. It is more often a denser finer fibre than coloured fleece
- A dense fleece produces more shear weight and therefore offers a better financial return
- Uniformity of the fleece – known as the ‘standard deviation (SD)’
- Lack of guard hair (guard hair is a coarse fiber that reduces the value of the fleece)
- Well defined crimp – must show consistency throughout the fiber length and throughout the fleece
- Silky brightness – an indicator of softness in handling
- Cutting weight – this can be improved by staple growth, density and consistency
Comparing Suri & Hucaya Fleeces
The main differences between the Suri & Hucaya are:
- Suris have less medulated fibre, giving a better handle.
- The Suri fleece has a high lustre.
- Suri fleeces have no crimp making them more suitable for worsted fabric