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El Cerrito, CA 94530

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About Alpaca

Alpaca fiber comes from the alpaca, a relative llamas and camels. Originally from South America, they are raised all over the world now, including here in California. Smaller than llamas, alpacas are often raised as companion animals.

The fiber of different breeds has it's own unique properties, fiber lengths, and color. Suri alpaca is considered to be the best, as it's fibers are straighter and more lustrous. The other type of alpaca is Huayaca, whose fibers are kinkier and denser.

Fiber Properties

Alpaca fiber is long and lustrous, making it easy to spin into a soft yarn. Though soft, alpaca fiber is a strong fiber too.

Alpaca fiber is easier to process than wool, as there are no guard hairs or lanolin (grease) to be removed. Best of all, alpaca tends to be less itchy than most wools.

The fiber is naturally beige to brown, and therefore, it must first be bleached before it can be dyed. There are more than twenty natural colors of alpaca fiber. Alpaca, like mohair, takes up dye very readily and beautifully.

It is both light and very warm, making it great for sweaters, hats, scarves - almost any project, really.


Due to it's long fiber length, alpaca fiber is fairly durable, especially when blended with wool.

All animal fibers have the possibility of pilling, and this is largely determined by the way the yarn is spun or manufactured. For instance, a single-ply yarn might pill more readily than a yarn with more plies (or strands spun together).

You can control pilling somewhat by knitting with a tighter gauge by using a slightly smaller needle than is recommended on the yarn label. This helps create a stronger fabric that will be more durable.

Alpaca fiber is susceptible to attack by moths, so use mothballs to protect yarn, fiber and garments. If you don't like the odor, periodically place the yarn or garment in a plastic bag in the freezer for 48 hours to kill moth larvae. You should also air out stored fibers in the sun every now and then.


Always read and use the care instructions on your yarn's label. If you need help with the symbols used on the label, check our Yarn Label Symbols page.

Generally, you can hand wash alpaca fibers. We do not recommend machine washing any alpaca knit or crochet item. Skein Lane recommends using a wool washing product such as Eucalan, and tepid water (not cold). Never use Woolite, as it contains a bleaching agent that can discolor your yarn. You may add touch of hair conditioner to rinse water for extra softness.

To prevent bleeding when washing hand-dyed yarns, add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the wash and rinse water. This will set the dyes and make the garment softer.

As with wool, alpaca is weaker when wet. Do not wring or twist the wet item. Wrap in a towel and gently squeeze out the excess water. Then lay the item flat to dry.


Some popular alpaca and alpaca blend yarns at Skein Lane are:

  • Avarice - Twisted Sisters Yarns
  • Inca Alpaca - Classic Elite Yarns
  • Frog Tree Alpaca - Frog Tree
  • Baby Grande Alpaca - Plymouth


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