Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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All About Alpaca

November 16th, 2012

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All About Alpaca YarnAlpaca yarns have been gaining in popularity quite quickly over the past few years, and it’s no wonder: alpaca yarn is strong, soft, and warm. But how is it different from other fibers? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked alpaca questions.

How are alpaca yarns so soft?
Every piece of hair is made up of a series of scales. Animal fiber yarns that are soft tend to have very small, short scales. On average, alpaca fibers have shorter scales than sheep.

I can’t wear wool. Can I still use alpaca?
Give it a try! Alpaca yarns do not contain lanolin, an oil that sheep produce to protect their fleece. That means that people with wool or lanolin sensitivities can still wear alpaca. Baby alpaca is especially great for people with sensitive skin.

Does alpaca yarn felt?
Unless the yarn is superwash, alpaca will felt. Because the scales are small, alpaca yarns will take a little bit longer to felt than traditional wool. However, the results are just as beautiful.

How do alpaca yarns drape?
100% alpaca has a beautiful drape, so it creates gorgeous shawls and accessories.

How stretchy is alpaca?
A yarn’s bounce or stretch is determined by its scales. Since the scales are so short and smooth, they don’t lock together. That means 100% alpaca yarns will have a tendency to stretch, and they won’t shrink back into place like some wools will. This is a fantastic advantage when knitting or crocheting lace, as the stitches will really open up.

How are there so many undyed shades of alpaca?
Believe it or not, there are actually 22 natural colors of alpaca, ranging from neutrals like white and brown to rich golden oranges and silvery blues.

How warm is alpaca?
Super warm! Although it’s very light, alpaca is incredibly warm, even when wet. In fact, it’s my go-to yarn for winter knits because I know that it’ll keep me cozy. It also has great moisture wicking properties.

So now that you know a little more about alpaca, why not give it a try? Our LB Collection Baby Alpaca comes in beautiful undyed shades, and our Martha Stewart Crafts Alpaca Blend combines alpaca with wool and acrylic for an easy care yarn.

Have more alpaca questions? Be sure to ask in the comments!

  • Calenia

    The LB collection baby alpaca also takes dye beautifully. It doesn’t take it the same way that wool does, so test your colors, but it is a great way to add color to that super soft yarn.

    • Jess Hicks

      Great point, Calenia! I’ve dyed the Fawn Heather into a beautiful heathered burgundy shade. The Natural color also takes dye very well.

  • Lola Stockmaster

    I bought some Alpaca yarn to make socks with but I’m not sure that will work now…anyone have some ideas…Thanks

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