I bought a hank of beautiful alpaca and lamb’s wool blend at the Rhinebeck Fiber Festival in NY this fall. The woman gave me a pattern to go with it and said if I had a problem with it, to e-mail her. Well, I started knitting the baby sweater pattern she gave me and I realized there was not going to be enough yarn, so I e-mailed her and asked if I could buy some more. She replied that she couldn’t because she didn’t have anymore…and… here it comes… “she wouldn’t recommend using that alpaca yarn with an infant”! So she gave me another pattern and said if I didn’t want it to send back the hank and she would refund my money.
Can any of you tell me if it is a bad idea to use alpaca with an infant. Would it be because of the tiny fibers, it might not be good for their lungs? But then why would it be o.k. for a 6 month old?
Maybe I’ll just make a scarf for me!
I would have no problem putting alpaca on an infant. The problem would come when I had to take it off of the infant and wash it. Alpaca felts like wool, but even easier (the stuff I’ve worked with anyway). I’d recommend reserving the alpaca for a use that wouldn’t require frequent washing (like a scarf, a hat, a shawl, etc.).
You could always buy a complimentary yarn, do the arms and collar in the alpaca and the body in the other yarn. It’s not hard to mix or match with all the choices we have today.
I could find nothing on the 'net about not using alpaca for little ones. The common belief is that even if they are allergic to other wools, alpaca will be soft enough for a babies skin.
I wouldn’t simply because of potential wool allergies. Alpaca feels lovely soft to me on my fingers… but the second it’s on my neck or back it feels like pins and needles.
Washabiltiy. Don’t make anything for anyone that isn’t washable, unless you know they are prepared to take care of it, but please do not make anything at all for anyone under 5 that isn’t wash and wear. No one wants to see it ruined, but kids are kids, and if they are doing what they should, a gorgeous alpaca sweater could either be a beautiful wall hanging, or ruined. Even if only worn once, for a 30 minute photo shoot, it can be done for.
The baby will spit up. Drop food. Roll in the dirt and grass. Slither on a floor that looks clean until baby is a human dust mop and proves otherwise.
If wool, superwash!
Cotton, and cotton blends.
I have made my daughter (who is now 3) plenty of items that are handwash. However, I know that I will be the one doing the handwashing, so it is not a problem.
I also think baby alpaca feels soft and silky while knitting, but to me is itchy to wear. I made a hat for DD from Suri Alpaca and it seems soft and she has never complained about it being itchy or scratchy. She has always (since she was born) had a lot of hair, so nothing has every touched a little scalp directly.
I don’t think that wool allergies are as rampant in babies (or adults) as people might think. A true allergy and an irritation are different things. I still would never want to use a scratchy feeling wool though.
Superwash is a great idea and there are many very soft ones available.
Wool is used all the time for diaper covers for babies… from underwear to full-length pants. But the people using it know they have to take care of it. True wool allergies are fairly rare. More often it is a sensitivity, and most often it is in fact a reaction to the chemicals the wool has been treated with (like mothproofing), and not the wool itself.
If you know the child has shown a sensitivity, then by all means don’t use wool, but I wouldn’t let the “potential” for an allergy stop me from using an animal fiber any more than I would let it stop me from cooking a meal with peanuts.
I’ve heard that alpaca is a hypo-allergenic fiber, so it should be fine for babies. I’m no expert, though.