Alpaca Wool: Woven Gold of the Andes

 

You’ve struck gold

Alpaca wool is one of South America’s most precious treasures. Known for its soft texture and durability, it is one of the finest naturally derived fibres. Alpaca wool is warmer, lighter and stronger than sheep’s wool, rarer and more durable than cashmere. It has excellent thermal qualities that make it an ideal material for outerwear in cold climates, and it’s not rough or irritating to the skin. If you’ve ever worn an alpaca wool coat, I’m sure you agree.

Alpacas from Peru

Historical Significance

 Alpacas have a deep-rooted South American history, they have been a valuable resource and a source of pride since the time of the Incas. Alpacas were so precious to the Incas that they were treated as domestic animals and hunting them was forbidden; their wool was worth more than gold, and the finest quality was worn only by royalty.

 

Resiliency

 Alpacas, despite their fuzzy faces, and sweet nature have inhabited a remote, unforgiving area, for over three million years. They are mostly found in the highlands at altitudes between 3,000 and 4,000 meters (over 13,000 ft), where temperatures can fall to 20 degrees below zero. Living in high altitudes and in drastic temperatures contribute to their wool’s resistance to damaging natural elements. An alpaca wool coat can endure cold frigid temperatures, repels rain and can acclimate to warmer temperatures.

 

Baby Alpaca Wool Scarves by Etnica

Ethical Production

 There are over four million Alpacas in Peru,  making it the biggest producer of alpaca wool in the world. Not to worry, the adorable alpacas are not harmed in the process of garment production. Their coats are sheared in the summer months, similar to sheep. There are two tiers of alpaca wool; regular and baby alpaca. Baby alpaca is the  crème de la crème of natural fibres. This wool only comes from the first three shearings of an alpaca’s coat, resulting in the softest, lightest, silkiest wool, so warm you’ll feel you’re cuddling with an alpaca!