Aunt Geri here. Fiber enthusiasts like us covet alpaca which has the softness of cashmere, luster and drape of silk, warmth and loft of goose down, and strength and durability of wool. Alpacas are gaining recognition and popularity for their luxurious natural fiber, but they still remain one of the world’s rarest fiber animals. Alpacas are a domesticated member of the camelid family. They originated on the North American plains about 10 million years ago.
Two wild species, vicunas and guanacos, emerged from migrations to South America about 2 1/2 million years ago, with alpacas being “created” through selective breeding for their fine fiber. Alpaca garments were reserved for Incan royalty, and goods made from Alpaca fiber have been discovered by archeologists in graves and religious sites predating the Incan Empire in South America – talk about durable!
A common question answered – alpacas are NOT killed to get their fleece. Alpacas are sheared annually, much like sheep, as much for their health (who wants to wear that warm coat all summer?!) as for their valuable fleece. Demand for alpaca continues to increase because it’s luscious to the skin, durable, (see above!) allergen free, and has a soft drape and beautiful sheen. And they’re cute to boot!