A Black And White Animal That Lives In China Tips to Classify and Cultivate Your Alpaca Fiber

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Tips to Classify and Cultivate Your Alpaca Fiber

The most luxurious natural fiber available is Alpaca Fiber. It is superior to angora and even cashmere, because it is softer, if not softer than cashmere, yet it will not pill and it has better thermal properties. Alpaca hair is almost hypoallergenic, because it does not contain lanolin like wool – lanolin is oily and traps dust, mites and other allergens. The lack of lanolin also means that no chemicals or special washings are needed to prepare the alpaca wool for processing. Because of this purity, even the most sensitive skin is not irritated by alpaca products.

Classification by Color or Fineness

Color is the easiest thing to learn about classifying your wool, yet there are areas where a color can seem to drift between meanings. To begin with, there are 22 colors that are recognized worldwide. At this time, most animals are white or faun. Gray and black are the most available colors, so it is the easiest to sell. White is also very easy to sell, because alpaca fiber takes from colors very easily, so white is often used when dying the wool.

The roan color is a solid base color like brown or black with white at the tips or white hairs growing in the amount of the base color. Almost all backgrounds will have noise in their color. Gray is a very popular color, and can range from a very dark gray to an animal looking white. Most grays will have dark spots on them.

Another way to differentiate your wool is to separate it by finesse. Fineness is the diameter of individual hairs and is measured in microns. For comparison, human hair is between 40-90 microns.

Alpaca fiber with a measurement of 18 or less microns is classified as Royal. Historically, this type of rope was reserved exclusively for the Incan royal family.

Fiber with a measurement of 18 to 20 microns is classified as Fine or Superfine. This can be seen mostly on one-year-old alpacas, their first cut.

A classification of Fine is given for alpaca fiber between 20 and 25 microns, and Medium for fiber between 25 and 30 microns. Both of these types are easy to spin into yarn and very soft. However above 30 microns, then we are into the category of Powerful. Obviously not as fine as Fine or Medium, but still great for gloves, rugs and other rugged finished products.

Another category is Composite Materials which are over 30 microns and are used for felt and decorative arts products.

Planting

You must not treat your alpacas; Brushing, pulling and even petting your alpacas too much can stretch the hair fibers. This affects the top of the wool, the dog that means here the ability of the hairs to return to “normal” after being stretched or squeezed, it may not indicate fluffiness, but this is not correct. Because the scales on alpaca wool are all in the same direction, they don’t bounce back as strongly as hard wool – making it more susceptible to stretching out of shape – it doesn’t spring back.

If you have enough grass space, a great strategy is to put your alpacas on fresh grass three weeks before shearing. This will allow any grass, twigs or other things that may be stuck in the wool to work themselves out and you will have clean produce, ready for processing.

If you live in a humid climate, make sure the sheared wool is dry before you pack it to keep it clean and smell good for your customers. An inventive solution to this is shared by Deb Wright of Wright’s Choice Alpacas – on this until dry and ready to bag. You also have to make sure that you keep moths out of your wool until you have time to sort it and prepare it for moving or moving. You can put a paper towel in with each bag to repel bugs.

A long-term strategy for producing quality wool would be a breeding program, or purchasing animals bred for superior wool from a good breeding farm. A breeding trail, long-term keeping and detailed records, and honesty will help a breeder develop lines that are proven to provide quality wool.

If a breeder knows that the offspring of an alpaca do not make quality animals, they should pull them from the breeding stock, geded if they are males. It takes years to make these decisions, which is why a detailed and honest record keeping will pay off in the long run.

Animals that are not suitable for breeding stock can also be used for wool production for the rest of their lives, the owner will also be able to make money from them. However, if a breeding program has a goal of a certain wool quality, these animals should not be bred. Even medium and strong wool carries the wonderful qualities of alpaca fiber, and there are many millers and artisans who will be happy to buy this alpaca fiber.

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