BATTING ON THE HOOF Posted on 01 Aug 12:52 , 0 comments

Recently I posted about the Alpaca Ranch I pass every year on my way to Sisters for our Statler Retreat. I had written to Sue Bunch of Back to Back Fiber Products. She and her sister work together raising Alpacas and producing products using the alpaca wool. Sue was gracious enough to respond to my quest for accurate information regarding this great batting as well as all the other great alpaca products they for us to play with. I wanted to share her repsonse with you. You'll find her comments in red below added to the original post content.

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.

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. Back to Back Fibers are now using their Wool Blend battings for felting....both needlefelting and wet well as for quilters.

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. Actually, what make the fiber so warm is that each fiber is hollow making it naturally insulated. I believe alpacas and polar bears are the only animals with that type of fiber.
  • 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. We have two blends only.....Alpaca/Wool...60%/40% and Alpaca/Cotton...50%/50%. We do not blend with poly. One type of our Alpaca/Wool is a dark batting....blends of dark alpaca fibers and dark sheep wool.

Want to know more about all kinds of batting? Be sure to check out a book written by Nancy Goldsworthy ... Flat or Fluffy.  Nancy takes you through the basics of batting from production, content fibers, and how/when to use to create the desired effect on any given quilting product. Her style of writing is very easy to read and yet packed with lots of down-to-earth usable information.