Stories - Eco Alpaca Yarns
Posted on July 01 2018
Ekotree elaborates on the traditional Irish knitwear look by using superfine alpaca yarns. This is an age-old but very luxurious yarn. Generally we only use non dyed yarns as it adds to the pure essence of the product. Therefore our natural coloured alpaca products in black, grey, charcoal, off-white and beige are actually the natural colour of the alpaca's fleece.
Alpacas are considered some of the “greenest” animals around. Their adaptations for living in harsh environments like the Andes give them a light eco-footprint: soft pads in place of hooves leave terrain undamaged, and their efficient eating habits result in greatly reduced water and acreage needs relative to other grazing animals.
Alpaca is also sustainable because an alpaca can produce fleece throughout its life without being harmed. When late spring arrives in the Andes (late fall here in the Northern Hemisphere) and the weather warms up, alpaca ranchers shear their animals for their annual “clip.” While alpacas don’t usually enjoy the shearing process itself, they are noticeably more comfortable after their annual “haircut.”
Because alpaca is naturally free of lanolin and other oils found in sheep’s wool, no harsh chemicals are needed to process alpaca fiber, making alpaca ranching 100% natural and safe for the environment.
Fleece lovers looking to reduce their environmental impact look to alpaca because with proper care, it’s virtually indestructible and can be worn for years, reducing the demand for new products. Alpaca garments dating back over 2000 years in Peru are still in good condition.
Ekotree only sources its alpaca from reputable sources.
PACOMARCA: “Sustainable Alpaca Network” is an international enterprise providing support for the sustainable development of alpaca raising. It seeks to generate benefits for all those involved in the alpaca production chain, and especially for the thousands of rural families who make a living from this resource in the harsh conditions of the Peruvian highlands.
The idea came about from the need to promote the human development of alpaca producers through their links with the modern world of textiles and to respond to the important changes occurring in social and economic areas as well as in climate.
A little history about alpaca
Alpacas have been bred in South America for thousands of years. The wild South American camelid Vicuñas were first domesticated and bred into alpacas by the ancient tribes of the Andean highlands of Peru, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. Two-thousand-year-old Paracas textiles are thought to include alpaca fibre.
Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of 3,500 m (11,500 ft) to 5,000 m (16,000 ft) above sea level, throughout the year. Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, they were not bred to be beasts of burden, but were bred specifically for their fibre.
Alpaca fleece is the natural fibre harvested from an alpaca. It is light or heavy in weight, depending on how it is spun. It is a soft, durable, luxurious and silky natural fibre. While similar in structure to sheep’s wool, it is warmer, not prickly, and has no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. Its softness comes from having a different smoother scale surface than sheep wool. Alpaca is naturally water-repellent and difficult to ignite.