Alpaca Fiber Questions
I just received my first order of alpaca fibers today so I could teach myself to spin on a drop spindle. I have no experience with alpaca or any fiber so I have a couple questions.
I got two kinds: reddish brown Huaquaya and light gray Suri.
The suri is softer and the locks are 7+ inches long. I love it, I can spin it as is, just separate each lock into three sections and go.
The Huaquaya is a different matter, the locks are barely 4" long and are about impossible to separate. They have bits of vm and feel dirty. Now I got a very good price on it, so I expected it to need washing.
My questions are: How long are alpaca fibers supposed to be, the good kind, called blanket I believe? Did I maybe get the less desirable locks? Or are they shorter because maybe they are from a young alpaca? Is 4" too short to work with and comb out?
There are two distinct types of alpaca, the Suri and the Huacaya with distinct types of fiber.
Most of the alpaca fiber you can get is from the Huacaya. The Huacaya fleece should have a bit of a crimp and have a strong staple definition.
The Suri fleece will be straight with little to no crimp, their fiber is longer than the Huacaya.
Each animal, even in the same breed, can produce a different type of fiber. Genetics play a major role, as does care and feed of the animal. also color plays a role. Darker colors are generally courser than lighter colors.
4" is a fine staple to work with.
Hello everyone! New member here, and alpaca breeder.
I breed huacayas only. I can tell you that staple length varies from animal to animal, depending on health, age, genetics, and nutrition.
Our crias (babies) typically have 7+ inches in staple length their first clip. Adults generally have 4-6" staple, although older females, especially, do frequently have shorter staple of 2-4".
Often, suri will have longer staple length because they are shorn every two years instead of every year, a practice I definitely do not approve of.
It is believed that darker colors are coarser than lights and whites, but I have some blacks and a rose grey that put many whites to shame!
I learned to spin on a drop spindle with the fleece of my oldest girl with a 2-2 1/2" staple. Right now it's still a single, and is rather bulky, but has really wonderful handle. I need to spin up some more to have enough to do something with!
I have 15 huacayas & 1 suri.
4" is a good staple length for a year's growth. Younger alpacas will have longer staple lengths, since they're just growing not breeding, gestating & nursing. Adult alpacas put more energy into reproduction than fiber (fineness, crimp & staple length), which can result in fiber that is less fine and shorter as the alpaca gets older. However, there are exceptions to this. Most mills require a staple length of at least 2".
Darker colors don't necessarily mean coarser fiber. Fineness is more a function of genetics than color. Our finest animals are a brown & a black, both from bloodlines known for extreme fineness.
The structure of the suri fiber is different from the huacaya, which makes it more slippery & shiny. We have a huacaya girl who's fiber is very difficult to separate, which is due to her fiber structure. Top quality huacaya will exhibit bundling, in which the fiber organizes into locks, somewhat like the suri.
There's a section on this website with articles about alpaca fiber. http://www.alpacas.com/AlpacaLibrary/
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