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Shupaca Alpaca Blog

Reasons to Buy Alpaca Socks

Reasons to Buy Alpaca Socks
Nobody likes having cold feet. When your feet are cold, your entire body will be cold too. Have you ever wondered why that is? The feet have a huge impact on how warm or cold you feel because just like your hands,  Continue reading

Types of Alpaca Gloves

Types of Alpaca Gloves
When winter comes and the snow begins to blanket your surroundings, gloves aren’t always the first things that pop in your head. Cold, nippy weather will signal your favorite warm and comfy things –from snuggle blankets and chunky sweaters to plush bathrobes and fuzzy socks –but gloves rarely make it to that cozy collection. Continue reading

11 Ways To Tie Alpaca Scarves

11 Ways To Tie Alpaca Scarves
Alpaca hats? Check. Alpaca gloves? Check. These items are staple accessories for times when the wind gets chilly and keeping warm becomes a priority. Continue reading

Alpaca vs. Cashmere? 6 Big Differences

Alpaca vs. Cashmere? 6 Big Differences
What makes the perfect sweater? For a garment to be a staple in our cold-weather wardrobe, it has to have the appropriate combination of softness, warmth, and durability –and plus points  will go to a piece that is water-resistant, sustainable, and has good insulation.  Continue reading

Why Buy An Alpaca Throw Blanket?

Why Buy An Alpaca Throw Blanket?
Alpaca fleece is an incredibly soft, smooth, and warm fiber that makes alpaca throws one of those simple luxuries you don’t realize you are missing until you’ve wrapped yourself in it.  Continue reading

How Is Alpaca Yarn Made? in 6 Steps

How Is Alpaca Yarn Made? in 6 Steps

If you’ve already worn an alpaca sweater or wrap, you pretty much know why it’s renowned for being one of the most prized natural fibers on the planet, and already a preferred fabric of luxury fashion houses. You already know that the impeccably soft, lightweight, breathable material that drapes beautifully comes from the adorable alpaca, which is native to South America. And you’re also absolutely certain that alpaca is already a staple in your winter wardrobe. But have you ever wondered how this fantastic fleece is turned into your favorite sweaters, hats, and shawls?  Allow us to break down its production process below.


Breeding

Alpaca wool is derived from the natural fibers that grow on alpacas. There are two breeds of alpaca: the Huacaya alpaca (fluffy sheep-like wool) and Suri alpaca (draping locks with a silkier, more lustrous fiber). 

Alpacas are considered “easy keepers.” They are gentle grazers and have soft pads, which are easy on the pasture. Keeping alpacas happy and healthy in their natural habitat is the first step in the wool’s journey of becoming a luxe fabric.

Shearing

Shearing of alpaca is typically done once a year, usually taking place in January through April. This allows the alpacas to re-grow their coats throughout the warmer months (and not have heat stress), and be prepared for the colder months of winter.

An alpaca is ready for shearing when its hair has grown to a certain length. Scissors are used for the shearing process. It can take up to four people to shear an alpaca, since the gentle creature is quite resistant to the process (it’s like trying to give a toddler a haircut). The entire coat usually comes off in one large mat since the breeders will shear the alpaca close to the skin. 

The short fiber will then be sorted into a number of categories, ranging from the finest to the coarsest. The coarsest wool is typically used for felted jewelry and handicrafts, while the finer wool is utilized for the production of garments.  

Carding

After the fiber is sorted, any seeds, burs, and other waste or debris that the alpacas have picked up will be carded using a fine-toothed brush. They can also be cut out by hand. During the carding process, the individual wool fibers are also combed in a uniform direction. And while alpaca already comes in 22 natural shades, it is at this point that the fibers can be dyed. After the carding process, alpaca wool is ready to be spun into yarn.

Spinning

Shupaca Alpaca Spinning

Spinning refers to the process of turning raw wool fibers into strong and consistent threads. Peruvian weavers use what is called a pushka –a drop spindle that resembles a wooden spinning top with an elongated axis. Fiber is gathered and twisted using one hand while being wound into the spindle with the other hand. Spinning (along with gravity) will cause multiple threads to combine to form stronger fibers. The single threads, on the other hand, are separated from the pushka, are formed into balls, and then spun again. It takes an experienced, steady hand to correctly twist the fiber without breaking it, while maintaining a consistent thickness for hundreds of meters. Hand-spinning wool into yarn is not only a highly-skilled craft, but a treasured Peruvian technique performed by the indigenous people, and has been passed down from generation to generation.

Washing

Once the alpaca yarn has been formed, it will be washed to remove its impurities. The Peruvians use a variety of wild plants to make a natural, non-toxic cleaning substance. The organic detergent (either using a root or plant that is grated or pounded and mixed with water) creates a foamy wash which effectively cleans the dirty wool in just a few minutes. Once the wool is clean, it will be hung to air-dry. 


Knitting, Weaving, Crocheting

The dried wool will then be ready for the final step which will turn it into a finished textile product. Similar to how you can knit and crochet doilies and sweaters at home using a ball of yarn, alpaca yarn will be knitted or weaved into hats, wraps, sweaters, socks, etc. –all ready to be exported around the world.

 

If you are interested in our alpaca collections please check them out below. 

Alpaca Throw Blankets

Alpaca Pillows

Alpaca Heirloom Collection

Alpaca Scarves

Alpaca Wraps

Alpaca Gloves

Alpaca Beanies/Hats

Alpaca Socks

Alpaca Head Bands and Neck Warmers

Alpaca Clothing

Alpaca Plushed Animals

Alpaca Artisan Yarn 

Continue reading

9 Reasons Why Alpaca Is The Most Sustainable Material In The World

9 Reasons Why Alpaca Is The Most Sustainable Material In The World

Alpaca fiber is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most coveted, eco-friendly materials. The use and production of alpaca wool in Peru (its largest exporter and producer), dates back to the era of the Incas when alpaca was revered for its durability and exceptional qualities –the fine fleece was even reserved for Incan royalty. 

But to better understand the sustainability benefits of alpaca wool, let’s compare it to cashmere –its main rival, so to speak. For many years, cashmere was the gold standard in luxury fabric. Any indication of colder weather would already prompt us to slip on the classic cashmere sweaters whose softness was synonymous with luxury.  However, due to its mass production, cashmere’s superiority began to collapse. Its substantial decline in quality coupled with the worsening environmental conditions, has pushed society to find better alternatives.

Say Hello, To Alpaca

Alpacas belong to a family of four South American camelids. They are cousins to the camel! They spend their days roaming freely on the Andes mountains, their native habitat. Unlike camels and llamas, alpacas are not used as pack animals, but cared for to be used exclusively for growing wool.  They are caught by farmers, are gently sheared, then released back into the wild. They are shorn once a year, and this actually benefits the alpaca because removing their fleece prior to the hot, summer months will aid in avoiding potential heat stress. 

Fascinatingly, Peru is home to the largest population of alpacas. Peruvian history is actually steeped in alpaca farming –from the breeders who raise the livestock and master sorters who gather the best fleece, to the knitters who produce the world’s best sweaters, hats, coats, and wraps. Alpaca, certainly, plays a significant part in Peru’s textile heritage. The Incas even represent what perfect breeders should be –they are able to preserve the culture and tradition of alpaca breeding, passing on their wisdom and craftsmanship to Peruvian breeders.  

Peruvian breeders and artisans hold 80% of the world’s production of alpaca fiber. And it is in the breeder’s best interest to let alpacas live as long as possible, because the industry surrounding them is also an essential local business that provides more than 120,000 families with a valuable source of income.

Why Is Alpaca Considered The Greenest Animal On The Planet?

Alpacas produce an incredibly soft and warm fiber that is now considered more luxurious than other fabrics. Unlike sheep’s wool and cotton, alpaca fiber does not require caustic steps during its production and therefore, does not produce pollution or harm the environment. Here are some fast facts that will make you love alpacas even more:

  • Alpacas have a light footprint. They eat mostly native grass and do not decimate natural vegetation. They will only consume approximately 1.5% of their body weight each day.  
  • They are gentle creatures. Their soft, padded feet are not harsh on the terrain, allowing them to freely graze without destroying root systems.
  • They are highly adaptable. Their fine fleece does not retain water, is naturally a thermal insulator even when wet, and can resist solar radiation. They adapt easily to varying climates, conditions, and elevations.
  • Efficient! One alpaca can produce enough fiber to produce 4-5 sweaters, while a cashmere goat can only produce enough for ¼ of a sweater.
  • It’s safe to say they’re “potty-trained.” Alpacas will use the same area as a bathroom. This helps control parasites and their waste droppings make for a fantastic, all-natural fertilizer. 
  • Hypoallergenic Wool! Because it does not contain any oil or lanolin, alpaca fiber pills less and is hypoallergenic.
  • Alpaca fiber is breathable, moisture wicking, and has a highly durable strength that allows it to outlast other fibers.
  • Alpaca fiber has a natural luster and drapes beautifully.
  • They are naturally colorful and come in a range of 22 colors, from black and shades of gray, to browns, white, and even orange! This reduces the need to rely on dyes.
So, in an age where fashion is in pursuit of a more sustainable retail culture, it seems that turning to alpaca will offer a valuable solution for both eco-conscious brands and consumers alike. By supporting alpaca products, you not only get to enjoy the luxurious softness of its fiber for many years to come, but you are also contributing to a treasured tradition and livelihood that celebrates this wonderful fiber. Continue reading