Alpaca fleece is a natural protein fiber that comes from alpacas, fluffy animals in the South American branch of the camel family.
There are two types of alpaca with distinct fiber types. Huacaya alpacas have crimped fleece like wool from sheep and look fluffier (thus are sometimes referred to as “teddy bear” alpacas). Suri alpacas, on the other hand, have smooth fleece that hangs down in long locks and is more silk-like in texture. Huacaya is more common, making up roughly 95% of the alpaca population.
Alpaca is one of the oldest domesticated animals in the world. In Peru, where 80% of the world’s alpaca fiber comes from, people have been wearing alpaca fiber for hundreds of years. As pointed out in the Daily Beast, alpaca has the power to help the country’s indigenous populations, many of whom suffer from poverty. At least 50,000 families in the Andean highlands rely on herding alpaca for income and to sustain themselves. According to the FAO (based on 2009 data), 85% of Peruvian alpacas are run by smallholders with less than 50 animals each (FAO 2009).
Most alpaca fiber comes from animals that live free-range in their native habitat in the Andes Mountains. Alpaca graze on grass and other foliage. Alpacas are sheared annually, usually in the spring. Our alpaca yarn is sourced from Peru.