From high in the Peruvian Andes comes one of the finest luxury fibres in the world. Alpaca is so silky soft and velvety smooth to the touch it was once reserved for Inca royalty. It's high in tensile strength, and extremely insulating whilst similar to sheep's wool in its qualities. It's lighter yet much warmer than wool. Alpaca is hypoallergenic and not itchy against the skin. It can usually be worn by people who are allergic to wool.

Llama cousins of Alpaca graze at elevations of 3,000 to 4000 metres on the harsh altiplano of the Peruvian Andes. Their thick, sumptuous coats grow naturally in over 40 shades-from ivory to black, with all the greys and browns in between. Lighter shades of the fleece also take dyes beautifully.


Varieties
- Huacaya: this is the largest variety, approximately 90% of the population. This variety of fibre is characterized by how it grows directly out from skin, similar to sheep fleece. It is low in micron density, crimpy, and lustrous.
- Suri: Its fibre is known for falling into ringlets and it has a high silky sheen


Benefits of Alpaca
- Lighter and warmer than wool
- Luxuriously soft to the touch with a silky sheen
- Comfortable and versatile to wear
- Grows naturally in dozens of beautiful shades
- Alpaca fibre use promotes sustainable agriculture in the Andes


What are differences between Alpaca and Llama?
At the markets common questions asked are, what type of animal is it? Is it a camel or goat? Alternatively, is it either a Llama or Alpaca?

Alpaca and Llama are part of four species known as South American Camelids. The two other species include Vicuana and Guanaco. The Vicuana and Guanaco are not domesticated and both are endangered. The Vicuana is represented on the Peruvian Flag.

Llamas are much bigger then Alpaca (nearly double in size) with banana shaped ears. The llama is mostly used for transportation and meat purposes, whereas Alpaca are exclusively bred for their fleece. Most of the fleece sheared from the first clip is classified as "baby alpaca", as is select fibre from adult alpacas. (up 2 years) The Alpaca are shorn once a year usually in Spring. In Australia, approximately 1 to 7 kilo of fleece is shorn per Alpaca.


Why do the South America Camelids spit?
This is another common question we tend to be asked at markets.

It is believed spitting is one of the only defence mechanisms the Camelids possess against predators and it's also a form of pecking order with other Camelids. It is rare for them to spit at people.