Alpaca refers to textile raw material sourced from alpaca’s hair, Icelandic sheep wool or similar types of wool. Alpaca yarn is perfect for knitting textiles and garments. Fabric made from alpaca’s wool is soft to touch and offers durability.
Alpaca is devoid of lanolin and gives an alternative to those who may not be able to wear woolen fabric in everyday lives. The natural fiber’s softness also appeals to wearers who may find wool somewhat scratchy causing itching or other bodily discomforts.
Origins of Alpaca fabrics trace back to South America prior to Spanish conquest. The Incas, for instance, prized the fabric made of Alpaca loftily. Thus, it was worn only by noblemen in the society due to the heavy cost. Alpaca fabrics stayed unknown beyond Andes’s borders only until textile tycoon Sir. Titus Salt brought the raw material to Europe in the 19th Century.
Alpaca is still relevant as knitting mills make fabric with Alpaca even today. It is often blended with other natural fibers like wool in order to enhance its elastic stretch by retaining its warmth and softness. However, alpaca can be blended with silk too. When you indulge in a knitting project anytime soon, consider the below tips to make the most of alpaca’s features.
- Consider choosing alpaca yarns for knitting shawls, scarves, and blankets, since they all benefits from its warmth, softness, and longevity. Alpaca fabrics also drape and resist pilling. Baby alpaca wool is perfect to knit specific types of clothing worn next to the skin.
- Consider using open stitch patterns like drop-stitch, eyelet or lace for knitting lightweight garments. In fact, highly textured pattern stitches will not highlight on fabrics as they often do when wool is used to stitch.
- Alpaca is devoid of wool’s elasticity, so it is better to tighten and twist the switches in order to interlock threads or go for non-ribbed fringes.
- Use zigzag style stitch in order to conceal yarn’s ends to the naked eye and weave threads into the knitted fabric’s back for a perfect texture.
It is slippery to knit fabrics with alpaca yarn unlike with wool but if the back and forth stitch style is used when straight stitch won’t suffice, it will be easier to stitch buttons or even fringes of clothing.