ALPACA RANCH Posted on 24 Jul 12:11 , 0 comments

Question of the day: How can you tell an alpaca from a llama … the ears of the llama are banana shaped and the ears of the alpaca are straight.

Every year while on my way to Jan's house for our annual Statler Retreat I drive the back roads and go by an Alpaca Ranch. Every year I make a promise to myself.

"This is the year that I will finish a quilt using an Alpaca batting." It hasn't happened yet ... maybe this will be the year! And to that end pushing me a little more toward reaching my goal I did a little research about Alpacas and the products made from their fibers.

Alpacas come from the Andes Mountains of South America and have been domesticated by the native people for thousands of years. In fact there are no wild alpacas and they are a protected species by law. Similar to llamas in appearance, alpacas are members of the camel family. Alpacas were bred specifically for their fiber and you will find most people using the fibers for knitting and weaving.

Alpaca Batting Facts in a nutshell:

  • Alpaca fibers are soft and luxurious and are somewhat like hair being glossy in appearance. These qualities create a product that has wonderful drape making it a great fiber for use in garment construction.
  • Alpaca fibers are very dense causing them to be warmer than wool when used for clothing and bedding.
  • When the fibers get wet there is no “animal smell” as Alpaca fibers bear no lanolin. The absence of lanolin also makes the alpaca fibers hypoallergenic. This also means the fibers do not repel water  … which is fine unless you want a “water-proof” quilt or live in the rainy Pacific Northwest and have no barn for your herd. J
  • Processing alpaca fibers is very similar to the same processing procedures used for wool. Alpaca batting is needle-punched and has a scrim. Both of these features make the product very easy to work with on our longarm machines.
  • When using alpaca batting in your quilting projects you will find less definition or relief created from the stitching designs in comparison to what you might find when quilting with other battings
  • Battings made from alpaca fibers are available in cotton blends and poly blends as well as pure alpaca fibers and comes in a variety of natural colors both dark and light.
  • For more information about alpaca battings or to purchase battings made from alpaca fibers visit Back to Back Fiber Products.