Alpaca fleece is second to vicuna fleece – the most exclusive and luxury fleece of the world! Why is Alpaca fleece so valuable? Alpaca fleece is very soft. Unlike sheep wool it is hypoallergenic. It weights 30% less than sheep wool. Because of the structure of the individual fibre, it keeps you much warmer than wool. But the thermal quality, that is the ability to let warm or cold air pass through, also makes it the ideal material for hot climates. This is what the alpacas need in their natural environment high in the Andes mountains, and that is what makes the fleece so comfortable for you in any temperature. Another quality which makes alpaca fleece so comfortable in warmer temperatures, is the ability to absorb moisture. Whenever you sweat it will be absorbed by your alpaca garment – up to 30% of the fabric weight.
It is often said that alpaca fleece is not itchy. Yes and no. Here we touch the point of quality again. What does quality mean in this context? Finally it is all about fineness – the diameter of the individual hair or fibre. Alpaca fibre measures just one third of human hair. The diameter must be lower than 30 micron. One micron is 1/1,000 mm. If the diameter is lower, it won’t feel itchy. This is why the fineness of the fibre is the most important factor for you. All our fibres used to produce our COKAL luxury garments are less than 20 micron. This is usually called baby-alpaca, because when the animal gets older the fibre usually gets thicker. We use our thicker fibre to produce other products like duvets and doggy beds which don’t touch the skin.
Each alpaca produces just five to ten pounds of fleece per year. The highest quality can be found on the back of the animal. This part is called the blanket and it represents just two to three pounds. The fleece from the neck, the belly and the legs are of minor quality.
Most breeders sell the raw fleece or ask fibre mills to produce yarn and sell that. The yarn is then used for felting, knitting and weaving.
A cottage industry is busy producing and selling products such as scarfs, gloves, socks, blankets, sweaters and other garments. The finest of the fleece might vary.