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Monday, May 11, 2009

Alpacas? Suzie Alpaca!!

I went to the Minnesota Shepherd's Harvest Festival yesterday. It was my hubby's Mother's Day present to me. Four hours drive there, four hours at the fair, four hours home. What could be nicer?

I bought a bag of white alpaca from an alpaca grower. Right now I'm dying it multi-colors and will offer the mixes on my etsy site (to come! I'll announce it here when I've got everything in stock.) If you've never spun with alpaca, give it a try!

Alpaca wool is very fine and very soft. It has no grease, and a well-raised alpaca doesn't have a lot of barnyard matter in its fleece (just a year's worth of dirt and dust). Alpaca doesn't have any crimp, or fiber memory, so garments knitted or crocheted from it will tend to G-R-O-W over time. This is great if you are making a shawl and you want a lot of drape. It doesn't work as well in sweaters, so for alpaca garments to retain their shape you will want to blend alpaca with some soft wool. One of my favorite blends is alpaca, merino or cormo, and silk.

Majacraft makes a spinning wheel especially for alpaca-loving spinners. The Suzie Pro Alpaca has a 10% heavier wheel than the standard Suzie, and comes equipped with a slow whorl. Spinning pure alpaca at a slower speed prevents the yarn from being overspun. Fibers (including some sheep wools, like Icelandic) with little or no crimp can easily be spun into STRING so it is important to keep some air in the strand. The Suzie Pro Alpaca Wheel also has a lovely alpaca motif on the front of the stem. If you love camelids, you'll love this wheel.

The Suzie Pro Alpaca is as versatile as every other Majacraft spinning wheel - the interchangeable slow whorl is what makes it great for low-crimp fibers. Of course you can use a regular or fast whorl on the Suzie Pro Alpaca! And any Majacraft spinning wheel can be made into an "alpaca" wheel with the addition of the slow whorl.

Happy Spinning!


  1. So you did get to a fiber festival... feel better? I love the wheel it is so cute!!!

  2. I couldn't live w/o my Suzie Alpaca!


  3. "Alpaca doesn't have any crimp, or fiber memory"

    I beg to differ. Huacaya alpaca fiber has TONS of crimp and is wonderful for all kinds of knitting. My 100% alpaca socks are still holding their shape after several years of wear. The 100% alpaca sweater that my mom knitted 5 years ago hasn't grown. It is quite heavy and incredibly warm, though. Suri, on the other hand, has no crimp whatsoever. It seems more like silk to me.

    It may be more appropriate to say that alpaca has a different lock structure than sheep's wool.

  4. Some alpaca fiber is crimped, a lot is not. Unless you purchase the fleece, and see the crimp, it's a gamble. Huacaya breeders have only recently begun to select for crimp, and some still do not believe that crimp matters, only fiber diameter. I've bought both fleeces and prepared alpaca top, and have yet to see anything resembling crimp. You have been very alpaca-lucky!