Not much? Welcome to the club. Yet I was intrigued by what Signe Langford wrote in the Star about these long-necked, bucktoothed creatures with fuzzy heads, woolly coats and a sunny disposition.
Members of the camel family, they are known for their soft fleece.
There’s a quirkiness about them too, from their blunt faces, banana-shaped ears. They’re two-toed and none-hoofed. They seemingly have a droll sense of humor. As members of the camel family, they spit at you in showing off ‘negative’ communication. At anyone, anything.
There were few alpacas around here until farmers brought them up from South America. Their perkiness makes them ideal for petting zoos, farms and hospices. They have a friendly disposition.
They seem to be fun even in photos. They look you in the eye. According to the writer alpacas are more than a pretty face. The fleece is incredibly soft and warm, making it expensive as well.
There are only a few mills turning the raw fleece into yarn. According to the article, a couple who own a fiber mill, ‘they clean, sort and spin alpaca fleece into yarn for weaving, knitting and felting’.
Alpaca’s coat is six times warmer that sheep’s wool and isn’t itchy: good for those who can’t tolerate sheep wool touching the skin. The fur is taken from them once a year, mostly in May. According to one producer, ‘alpaca is hypoallergenic with no lanolin as found in sheep’s wool’ which makes you itch.
Author’s comment: I latched onto the alpacas while catching up with the two week old newspaper. It caught my attention because it seems its wool texture is even softer than cashmere. I’ll still stick to the latter.