An Eco-Friendly Animal Domesticated Since Ancient Times
The alpaca, whose scientific name is Vicugna pacos, is the most numerous South American camelid, and eighty percent of the world’s alpaca population is to be found in the southern Peruvian Andes. There are two breeds of alpaca: the HUACAYA and the SURI.
The alpaca has been domesticated since time immemorial and is considered to be an essential element of Andean culture. Prized since ancient times, it is notable for its attractive, fine coat and was reserved for the Imperial Family during the time of the Inca Empire.
It is an animal of fine appearance, with an elegant gait and slender form beneath a coat of fur known as a fleece. Moreover, it is considered to be an environmentally-friendly animal as it has foot pads which do not damage the pasture or induce erosion. Its naturally pigmented fibers occur in a range of different tones, making the alpaca a renewable natural resource that gives rise to a sustainable value chain.BREEDS AND GRADES
The Huacaya alpaca is the more common variety and comprises 85% of the alpaca population. Its fleece is typically bulky with curly locks, of single color, lofty, dense, and with the larger range of natural colors.
The Suri variety represents the remaining 15% of the alpaca population and is distinguished by its long, straight fibers of silky appearance and high elasticity.
PROPERTIES AND ATTRIBUTES
Luxury, Exclusiveness And Sustainability
Elasticity and tensile strength of yarn
Is conferred by uniformity and synchronized curling produced during the natural growth of the fiber.
A sensation of softness
Is produced by the smoothness, water content and nature of the fiber.
Are typified by insulating properties that maintain body temperature at normal levels; this is because each fiber contains air-filled cavities.
Are natural owing to the absence of lanolin.
Variety of natural colors
There are nine pure tones and more than another twenty natural shades that make industrial dyeing unnecessary, thereby saving considerable amounts of water and energy.
Results from the resistance of the fiber to attack by micro-organisms.
They graze without pulling plants out by the roots and nibble only the upper parts, thus permitting immediate regeneration.
Alpacas need less food than other fiber-producing animals and low grease content of alpaca fleeces makes the scouring process more sustainable.
From The Andes To The Whole World
- Shearing. This is the process of removing the animal’s fleece by cutting and is carried out in accordance with techniques and standards that guarantee the animals’ wellbeing and good-quality fiber.
- Categorizing. This involves qualifying the whole fleece, without taking it apart, according to the quantities of superior and inferior grades, fiber length and defined colors.
- Sorting. The fleeces are carefully opened manually by expert women (sorters) according to grades.
- Industrial processing. The fiber undergoes the following industrial processes:
Scouring. This frees the fiber of grease and any extraneous material that might be present.
Carding. The fibers are separated, parallelized and cleaned progressively to produce a sliver.
Combing. This process eliminates any residual impurities and removes short fibers and delivers balls of sliver known as tops.
Spinning. The top slivers are gradually attenuated before being spun into yarn.
- Products.Added-value goods are generated and include garments, accessories and home textiles that are internationally renowned and in considerable demand in the textile industry the world over.