PDA

View Full Version : Tell me about Angora, Alpaca, Wool, etc,


skNYC
10-25-2006, 12:13 PM
So far I've only used wool and wool blend. Bought some alpaca but havn't gotten the chance to knit it. Tell me, everyone, why are alpaca and angora more expensive than wool, and which is better, quality wise? Which would you prefer? What stores or sites do you shop for them?

All inputs welcome!
Thanks !

Quiara
10-25-2006, 12:19 PM
*plants flag firmly in the alpaca camp*

I :heart: alpaca. I love it best because it's soft and not outrageously expensive. And it's SO WARM. Really, really warm. I :heart: it.

nadja la claire
10-25-2006, 12:24 PM
They are sooooooo soooooft especially angora. These are luxury yarns. I seen French angora for $12.50 for a little tiny ball. If you really want to try something like angora but don't want to pay the price Moda Dea Dream is very nice and it is relatively affordable. Also Knit Picks has alpaca at decent prices.

Nadja xxx

Calamintha
10-25-2006, 12:49 PM
I don't know that I would say that angora and alpaca are better than wool quality wise. Within each fiber there is a range of quality. The reason angora and alpaca are more expensive is largely related to supply.

Angora comes from rabbits and it takes a lot of rabbits to make enough yarn for a sweater! You seldom see pure angora yarn either. It is usually mixed with wool for strength and to make it more affordable. To me it is the softest yarn I have used. Haven't used Qiviut yet. Some people find the fact that it sheds disagreeable.

Alpaca yarn used to come only from Peru but in recent years alpacas are being raised in the US too. When I went to Stitches West last February I was amazed at all the booths that were selling alpaca yarn from small farms. As more people get into the alpaca business, prices should come down.

One of the most disturbing things I have learned about alpaca recently is that in Peru, alpacas are being cross bred with llamas to increase the yield because they get paid by weight of fiber rather than quality. There is has been a significant decline in the quality of alpaca fiber over the last 20 years because of this.

Compared to wool, alpaca yarn has much less crimp. That mean's that it has a tendency to stretch. Some companies like Misti compensate for this by spinning the yarn tighter. Overall though, alpaca does not have the kind of stitch definition that you get with wool. It is great for lace but not so great for textured stitches such as cables. It may not be the best choice for something that has a lot of shape. However, it is pleasingly fuzzy and actually warmer than wool. It is sometimes said to be hypo-allergenic but that is in fact not true.

I think which you prefer is a matter of personal preference. You just have to try them all!

CarmenIbanez
10-25-2006, 12:49 PM
I love Alpaca. Don't forget we are talking about all different kinds of animals too. What I choose definitely depends on the recipient. MY mom is allergic to wool, my best friend is allergic to angora. Stuff like that.

I do think that Alpaca is the best bang for the buck in terms of softness/warmness/affordability.

Brvfan
10-25-2006, 02:42 PM
I agree that Alpaca is sooo very soft. I have knit with the chunky, made a scarf and I really like it. It has a loose feel to it and will feel great when it gets cold here (here in the South cold is 45 degrees). You know if it gets much below freezing here in the South we wrap up like we are at the North Pole LOL.

Debby

Stiney
10-25-2006, 02:46 PM
Psst. Freezing is 32 degrees. 45 is well above! ;)

CarmenIbanez
10-25-2006, 02:49 PM
Psst. Freezing is 32 degrees. 45 is well above! ;)

Yeah well, we think it's cold when it gets down into the 50s and 60s, which it will be soon. Good thing I am making a CARON SIMPLY SOFT scarf to wear!

:roflhard: :rofl:

Brvfan
10-25-2006, 02:59 PM
yep, it was 45 this morning and I am still bundled up and 50 would not be much better. We are so spoiled here in Georgia because even in the winter we can have days of 65 degrees and sunshine. We get creaky when the temperature goes down. And to think I was once considering a move to Chicago....brrrrrrrr

Debby

mwedzi
10-25-2006, 04:21 PM
Angora is super soft. I am trying (and failing :pout: ) to make the Branching Out scarf in Fleece Artist's Peter Rabbit, which is 70% angora, 20% nylon and 10% wool. It's very soft, but it sheds like crazy. What was I thinking? As though having two live rabbits in my house doesn't leave me with enough rabbit hair all over.

(i'm sneaking in a bunny pic. her eyes aren't red in real life: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v194/mwedzi/tokidrinking2.jpg )

Alpaca is also soft, but I must admit I find it itchier than merino wool. My friend bought me this unbelievable soft hand of alpaca yarn, it feels so soft to the touch. But when I tried to make a neck warmer out of it, I found it was unexpectedly itchy around my neck. I prefer merino wool around my neck. Even better, silk. Alpaca also sheds a bit, and I think I read somewhere that it doesn't generally have the elasticity of wool, but the ones I worked with I could hardly tell; they were very nicely and springy spun.

CarmenIbanez
10-25-2006, 04:28 PM
Alpaca is also soft, but I must admit I find it itchier than merino wool. My friend bought me this unbelievable soft hand of alpaca yarn, it feels so soft to the touch. But when I tried to make a neck warmer out of it, I found it was unexpectedly itchy around my neck. I prefer merino wool around my neck.


You could have a low level allergy to Alpaca? :shrug:

Mama Bear
10-26-2006, 03:25 AM
I love them all! I don't find one better than the other, just better for different applications. Sometimes a wonderful chocolate dessert is just right and another time it might be a special cheesecake. ;)

Mama Bear

nikic
10-26-2006, 10:01 AM
Alpaca is my favorite. It's super soft. Baby alpaca seems almost as nice as cashmere.
I'm still new so I haven't knit with a lot, but so far I prefer it over wool because it seems softer and warmer.

hellokitty165
10-26-2006, 11:04 AM
They are sooooooo soooooft especially angora. These are luxury yarns. I seen French angora for $12.50 for a little tiny ball. If you really want to try something like angora but don't want to pay the price Moda Dea Dream is very nice and it is relatively affordable. Also Knit Picks has alpaca at decent prices.

Nadja xxx

I agree with Nadja...all these luxury yarns are wonderful and they need to be hand wash ...

MrTea
10-27-2006, 03:15 PM
I dislike Alpaca yarns.

They are difficult to work with, have no elasticity whatsoever, they have a tendency to stretch out and also, they have a strange oily feel.

It is however, very soft and very warm. It may actually be too warm for knitting clothing unless you are planning an arctic expedition. I guess the hairs are hollow, increasing the insulative properties of the material.

I much prefer a fine Merino or Merino/silk blend. Still very soft and plenty warm, but much easier to work with.

Also, fine organic or pima cotton yarns have the softest hand. I think softer than cashmere. But of course, very little elasticity, but still easier to work with than alpaca, and not nearly as warm as animal hair.

A quality sheep’s wool is probably the best all around material as it is very easy to work with, very elastic, very durable and very warm. Change your yarn to suit each individual project, but always consider regular old unprocessed wool.

meriellyn
10-27-2006, 05:27 PM
Of course, different fibers are more appropriate for some projects but if we're just talking which we like best in general, I have a serious alpaca fetish. Lol. I just *love* it. I love the feel, the weight, the look, even the animals themselves. I have the serious goal of having an alpaca farm one day. Not as a main source of income. I love critters (my zoo of a household reflects that) and I'm absolutely fascinated by these creatures. Plus they produce my favorite fiber! ;)

But I digress... I like working with wool but I have a strong preference for merino, expecially if I'm knitting for myself. (As if that ever really happens. :P) Many wools do not agree with my skin. I wouldn't say it's a full fledged allergy but it's certinaly unpleasant. Merino is wonderful to knit with and wear.

I cannot tolerate mohair or mohair blends. My skin says no, in no uncertain terms. :( I'm not big on the look of it either though. I like the fuzziness of alpaca but mohair is a bit much for me.

I have not knit with angora yet. I have had a few angora blend garments and don't really care too much for it. I haven't made a decision about the fiber in general yet. I do know I find it only suitable for outerwear. Again, sensitive skin. :P

Basicly, I could just roll around in a mountain of alpaca and merino all day and be happy. Lol. ;)

I like cotton and silk (in a blend) as well but they're just not as forgiving as protein based animal fibers.

Unfortunately, I currently live in southeastern SC where it's rarely cool enough to wear the things like to knit! *sob* I'm about to head up to western NC for a couple weeks and I'm so excited to use some (wool and alpaca) handknits!

Wendy B.
10-31-2006, 12:00 PM
Um, if I understand correctly, silk is protein-based, just as other animal fibers like wool and alpaca are. Cotton is obviously a plant fiber, of course, but it's the only non-protein you listed.

My favorite so far is pure silk -- so soft, so beautiful, but SO EXPENSIVE! :) Alpaca can be wonderful, too; I'm working with KnitPicks' Andean Silk right now, and it's sooooo soft. I love!