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By Echoview Fiber Mill News 28 comment03/November 5 Reasons Why Alpaca Products Will Be Your New Favorite
Here’s the deal: want a conversation starter? Ask folks those questions, and then surprise them with an answer they didn’t expect while stunning them with your brilliance when you explain to them why the answer to both of those questions should be “alpaca.” Keep reading for the top five reasons why!
1. Alpaca is lighter and warmer than wool and cashmere.
The structure of alpaca fibers (also known as “fleece”) is responsible for many of the great benefits alpaca products provide. Two things wool and cashmere are known for are their warmth and relatively lightweight nature. Alpaca fibers are often medullated, meaning they have tiny air pockets inside the shaft. This makes them both lightweight and better at retaining heat. Both of those are a bonus for clothing worn by cool-weather adventurers (hunters, skiers, hikers, tailgaters, etc.).
2. Alpaca is as soft, or softer than cashmere.
Again, the structure of alpaca fibers is also responsible for their softness. The shaft is covered by layers of scales that have a smoother cuticle, and smaller scale height and frequency than those other fibers. This gives alpaca a softness that is not only microscopically measurable, but also easily distinguished simply by touch. (Seriously. Touch a ball of wool yarn, and then one of alpaca and tell me which is softer. I’ll wait.)
3. Alpaca is stronger, more durable, and essentially pill-free.
What, the structure again? Yes. They also have a high tensile strength and long staple length, making them great for spinning into yarn and knitting into long-lasting garments and accessories. Alpaca sweaters have been shown to retain their softness, brightness and luster for decades. Those long fibers are also much less likely to pill. That translates into a beautiful garment that lasts and looks beautiful longer.
4. Alpaca is hypoallergenic, and not itchy.
The reason rests in two things: the size of the alpaca fibers, and the absence of lanolin. Smaller fibers cause less irritation, which is one reason wool is perceived as being itchier than say cashmere. Wool fibers are larger and have rougher scale structure than either cashmere or alpaca. Alpaca fleece is considered “dry fiber,” meaning it does not secrete lanolin, which can be an allergic trigger that also causes discomfort and itching. Many people who cannot wear wool are able to comfortably wear alpaca.
5. Alpaca is flame resistant.
Alpaca is a Class I Fiber, which is the safest level for flame resistance. This means it is more flame resistant than plant or synthetic fibers. It is marginally flame retardant which means it will self extinguish, and it does not melt onto the skin like synthetics do. Sounds like a plus for those cool evenings around the campfire when you get a little too close!
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