The Rare Fibers of Alpaca
If someone were to tell me they had found a fiber that was silky and soft, yet never pilled nor showed its age, I would be skeptical. Yet these characteristics perfectly describe Alpaca, making it the darling of foreign fashion designers. Exported from only two countries, Peru and Bolivia, we travel to South America year after year to offer this rare and valuable fiber in the form of sweaters, hats and more. While typically more expensive than wool, Alpaca’s silky feel and amazing durability make it a great value that will stay beautiful for many years to come.
Alpaca is a durable fiber that comes from a New World branch of the camel family that lives in the Andes Mountains at altitudes of 11,000 to 16,000 feet.
Alpacas, however, are anything but wild; they have been bred over the course of millennia, probably from their smaller cousin, the vicuña. Their fur has been a trade item in the Andes for thousands of years, as high-altitude cultures like Tihuanaco and the Incas traded it with hotter coastal cultures below.
Alpaca is a rare fiber with limited production. It is warmer, softer and far more durable than wool. Due to its long fiber length, alpaca will never pill. Your Alpaca item is an investment that will still look beautiful many years after its purchase.
Alpaca is a Socially Responsible Fiber
Alpaca is an ecologically sustainable "green" fiber. Alpacas graze freely as they have for millenia. The husbandry of alpaca sustains rural families in the highlands of Peru, enabling them to stay in their traditional homes.
During the Inca Empire (1200 AD-1532 AD), only the royal family could use clothing made of alpaca. In those days, alpaca was woven into tight rectangles of colorful cloth, which were in turn draped or wrapped around the body, or sometimes joined into tunics. Knitting did not exist, but examples of masterfully crocheted four-cornered hats are still found in Inca graves.
|Alpaca should be cared for exactly like wool.||They can be hand-washed in cold water and laid flat to dry. Or dry clean.|
|They should be stored neatly folded, not hung, in a moth-proof environment.||With this care, an alpaca sweater should stand up to years of everyday usage with few signs of wear.|
|Wool is elastic and durable, as long it is treated in a manner appropriate to the garment. Rustic wool and alpaca are tough and resilient. Cashmere is more delicate. If you take care of it, your Invisible World sweater will last you many years.||Never hang a wet sweater up to dry. This is called “torturing your sweater for information it cannot reveal.”||A wool sweater or knit jacket should never be hung on a hanger or crucified on the back of a chair. This is called “punishing your sweater for something it didn’t do.”|
|To hand-wash a sweater you should wash it in cold water with a mild detergent like Woolite or a good shampoo, gently kneading and squeezing the garment without twisting or wringing it. Adding hair conditioner or fabric softener will make your sweater silkier. After rinsing, you should gently squeeze out the water and lay the sweater flat on a towel to dry.||A wool garment should never be washed in warm or hot water, or in the washing machine. Unless you have been accidentally exposed to nuclear radiation and find yourself getting smaller every hour like The Incredible Shrinking Man, you will truly regret the irreversible felting process that you have unleashed on your garment. Shrinking of things is better left to the Jivaro Indians of the northwest Amazon.||Although it is virtually impossible to systematically shrink a sweater to fit, it is possible to stretch out a sweater a little bit to just the right size. This is called blocking the sweater. To do this the sweater should be washed or at least well soaked. Then, after squeezing out the water, and laying it on a towel, the sweater is gently and evenly pulled out to the dimensions desired. The sweater should then be weighted with clean heavy objects until it is dry. It will then retain its new shape.|