Alpaca wool originates from South America where Alpacas are kept for their wool and transportation purposes. The characteristics of alpaca wool are that it has no lanolin in the wool therefore it is hypoallergenic. It is naturally water and flame resistant. Next to that, alpaca wool is warmer and softer than sheep wool therefore it is less prickly to the skin.
Alpaca wool is a natural and animal based (protein) fiber. Therefore, it is recyclable and compostable as well.
I have multiple garments in my closet that contain alpaca wool and after sourcing the sheep wool from a petting zoo I was curious if I could purchase alpaca wool locally as well. Fortunately, my mom has a keen eye and she spotted a few alpaca farms on her way to work. She picked me up one weekend and we drove to Barendrecht to one of the farms to ask if there was wool left for purchase. The owner of the farm just sheared the alpacas and she was happy to sell the wool.
I could choose from a variety of colors and I chose a white fleece and a brown fleece from a baby alpaca. Protein fibers react great to synthetic and natural dyes therefore the white fleece will be great to experiment with natural dyeing as well.
The white alpaca wool is from Indy, a two years old female alpaca. The wool form this animal is shorter than from Sally, the baby alpaca. It has a zig-zag texture and feels very soft, not fat or oily at all. It also does not stink in contrast with sheep wool.
The brown alpaca wool is from Sally, a baby alpaca of a few months old. It was the first time she was sheared, therefore her wool is much longer and does not have a texture such as the wool from Indy.
The same feelings started to emerge from the sheep wool experiment. I felt a huge responsibility to waste as little of the material as possible. It also made me realize how much knowledge it takes to create fibers from raw materials and do handel them with care and respect.
This is an ongoing investigation and experimentation about materials that I find in my closet.