Tell me about Angora, Alpaca, Wool, etc,

So far I’ve only used wool and wool blend. Bought some alpaca but havn’t gotten the chance to knit it. Tell me, everyone, why are alpaca and angora more expensive than wool, and which is better, quality wise? Which would you prefer? What stores or sites do you shop for them?

All inputs welcome!
Thanks !

plants flag firmly in the alpaca camp

I :heart: alpaca. I love it best because it’s soft and not outrageously expensive. And it’s SO WARM. Really, really warm. I :heart: it.

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They are sooooooo soooooft especially angora. These are luxury yarns. I seen French angora for $12.50 for a little tiny ball. If you really want to try something like angora but don’t want to pay the price Moda Dea Dream is very nice and it is relatively affordable. Also Knit Picks has alpaca at decent prices.

Nadja xxx

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I don’t know that I would say that angora and alpaca are better than wool quality wise. Within each fiber there is a range of quality. The reason angora and alpaca are more expensive is largely related to supply.

Angora comes from rabbits and it takes a lot of rabbits to make enough yarn for a sweater! You seldom see pure angora yarn either. It is usually mixed with wool for strength and to make it more affordable. To me it is the softest yarn I have used. Haven’t used Qiviut yet. Some people find the fact that it sheds disagreeable.

Alpaca yarn used to come only from Peru but in recent years alpacas are being raised in the US too. When I went to Stitches West last February I was amazed at all the booths that were selling alpaca yarn from small farms. As more people get into the alpaca business, prices should come down.

One of the most disturbing things I have learned about alpaca recently is that in Peru, alpacas are being cross bred with llamas to increase the yield because they get paid by weight of fiber rather than quality. There is has been a significant decline in the quality of alpaca fiber over the last 20 years because of this.

Compared to wool, alpaca yarn has much less crimp. That mean’s that it has a tendency to stretch. Some companies like Misti compensate for this by spinning the yarn tighter. Overall though, alpaca does not have the kind of stitch definition that you get with wool. It is great for lace but not so great for textured stitches such as cables. It may not be the best choice for something that has a lot of shape. However, it is pleasingly fuzzy and actually warmer than wool. It is sometimes said to be hypo-allergenic but that is in fact not true.

I think which you prefer is a matter of personal preference. You just have to try them all!

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I love Alpaca. Don’t forget we are talking about all different kinds of animals too. What I choose definitely depends on the recipient. MY mom is allergic to wool, my best friend is allergic to angora. Stuff like that.

I do think that Alpaca is the best bang for the buck in terms of softness/warmness/affordability.

I agree that Alpaca is sooo very soft. I have knit with the chunky, made a scarf and I really like it. It has a loose feel to it and will feel great when it gets cold here (here in the South cold is 45 degrees). You know if it gets much below freezing here in the South we wrap up like we are at the North Pole LOL.


Psst. Freezing is 32 degrees. 45 is well above! :wink:

Yeah well, we think it’s cold when it gets down into the 50s and 60s, which it will be soon. Good thing I am making a CARON SIMPLY SOFT scarf to wear!

:roflhard: :rofl:

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yep, it was 45 this morning and I am still bundled up and 50 would not be much better. We are so spoiled here in Georgia because even in the winter we can have days of 65 degrees and sunshine. We get creaky when the temperature goes down. And to think I was once considering a move to Chicago…brrrrrrrr


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Angora is super soft. I am trying (and failing :pout: ) to make the Branching Out scarf in Fleece Artist’s Peter Rabbit, which is 70% angora, 20% nylon and 10% wool. It’s very soft, but it sheds like crazy. What was I thinking? As though having two live rabbits in my house doesn’t leave me with enough rabbit hair all over.

[size=2](i’m sneaking in a bunny pic. her eyes aren’t red in real life: )[/size]

Alpaca is also soft, but I must admit I find it itchier than merino wool. My friend bought me this unbelievable soft hand of alpaca yarn, it feels so soft to the touch. But when I tried to make a neck warmer out of it, I found it was unexpectedly itchy around my neck. I prefer merino wool around my neck. Even better, silk. Alpaca also sheds a bit, and I think I read somewhere that it doesn’t generally have the elasticity of wool, but the ones I worked with I could hardly tell; they were very nicely and springy spun.

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You could have a low level allergy to Alpaca? :shrug:

I love them all! I don’t find one better than the other, just better for different applications. Sometimes a wonderful chocolate dessert is just right and another time it might be a special cheesecake. :wink:

Mama Bear

Alpaca is my favorite. It’s super soft. Baby alpaca seems almost as nice as cashmere.
I’m still new so I haven’t knit with a lot, but so far I prefer it over wool because it seems softer and warmer.

I agree with Nadja…all these luxury yarns are wonderful and they need to be hand wash …

I dislike Alpaca yarns.

They are difficult to work with, have no elasticity whatsoever, they have a tendency to stretch out and also, they have a strange oily feel.

It is however, very soft and very warm. It may actually be too warm for knitting clothing unless you are planning an arctic expedition. I guess the hairs are hollow, increasing the insulative properties of the material.

I much prefer a fine Merino or Merino/silk blend. Still very soft and plenty warm, but much easier to work with.

Also, fine organic or pima cotton yarns have the softest hand. I think softer than cashmere. But of course, very little elasticity, but still easier to work with than alpaca, and not nearly as warm as animal hair.

A quality sheep’s wool is probably the best all around material as it is very easy to work with, very elastic, very durable and very warm. Change your yarn to suit each individual project, but always consider regular old unprocessed wool.

Of course, different fibers are more appropriate for some projects but if we’re just talking which we like best in general, I have a serious alpaca fetish. Lol. I just love it. I love the feel, the weight, the look, even the animals themselves. I have the serious goal of having an alpaca farm one day. Not as a main source of income. I love critters (my zoo of a household reflects that) and I’m absolutely fascinated by these creatures. Plus they produce my favorite fiber! :wink:

But I digress… I like working with wool but I have a strong preference for merino, expecially if I’m knitting for myself. (As if that ever really happens. :P) Many wools do not agree with my skin. I wouldn’t say it’s a full fledged allergy but it’s certinaly unpleasant. Merino is wonderful to knit with and wear.

I cannot tolerate mohair or mohair blends. My skin says no, in no uncertain terms. :frowning: I’m not big on the look of it either though. I like the fuzziness of alpaca but mohair is a bit much for me.

I have not knit with angora yet. I have had a few angora blend garments and don’t really care too much for it. I haven’t made a decision about the fiber in general yet. I do know I find it only suitable for outerwear. Again, sensitive skin. :stuck_out_tongue:

Basicly, I could just roll around in a mountain of alpaca and merino all day and be happy. Lol. :wink:

I like cotton and silk (in a blend) as well but they’re just not as forgiving as protein based animal fibers.

Unfortunately, I currently live in southeastern SC where it’s rarely cool enough to wear the things like to knit! sob I’m about to head up to western NC for a couple weeks and I’m so excited to use some (wool and alpaca) handknits!

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Um, if I understand correctly, silk is protein-based, just as other animal fibers like wool and alpaca are. Cotton is obviously a plant fiber, of course, but it’s the only non-protein you listed.

My favorite so far is pure silk – so soft, so beautiful, but SO EXPENSIVE! :slight_smile: Alpaca can be wonderful, too; I’m working with KnitPicks’ Andean Silk right now, and it’s sooooo soft. I love!

Hey, here you go :slight_smile:

Baby Alpaca Wool

Alpacas are native of South America. Peru is mostly famous for these gracious animals. Usually alpacas live on Andes mountain range, grazing at elevations of 3000-4000 m.

Alpacas wool has been utilized for thousands of years. Baby alpaca wool has been considered a luxury and it was once reserved only for Inca royalty.

Baby alpaca wool comes from the underside of the neck, where the fleece is finest and softest. Only a fleece that is sheared when the alpacas are one-year-old is classified as baby alpaca wool.

What are qualities of baby alpaca wool?

Alpaca wool is as luxurious as cashmere but softer and stronger. It is lighter and warmer than sheep’s wool.

Baby alpaca fibre is exceptionally fine, almost reaching the fineness of cashmere, but alpaca wool is both stronger and softer.

The warmth of baby alpaca wool is insured by the fact that its fibre is hollow. So it serves as an insulator to keep warm air in.

Alpaca wool is ideal for babies or sensitive skins. It has no lanolin – that’s why it is hypoallergenic and is a perfect solution for children and allergy-prone adults. It does not produce a ‘prickle effect’ associated with ordinary wools.

Gotland Wool

Gotland sheep breed is native to the Faroe Islands in Denmark. This historic breed tells a long story of Viking traders, island settlements, long and cold winters. Traditionally the color of the Gotland sheep even varies from year to year, depending on the grass they graze on.

Gotland sheep provide us with truly unique wool that has a special silvery quality. The fleece of Gotland sheep has one of the most lustrous and silky fibers in the world that will perfectly protect you from cold.

Check out our products from baby alpaca and Gotland wool:

I’ve been learning more about alpaca lately because I’m currently working on legwarmers for my granddaughter. Alpaca and llamas are from the camel family. The yarn I am using is Touch of Alpaca from a Lion brand yarn. This is 90% acrylic and 10% alpaca. I chose it for a 7 year child ease of washing. So far, I like it. Angora sheds and gets on everything. Very annoying. And it sticks to itself horribly. You’d better not make a mistake when knitting with it because it’s almost impossible to undo it. Wool stays warm even when wet. It’s a good choice if you spend time outdoors like a skier. Also good when you are shoveling snow from the driveway. But I’ve been reading lately where superwash wool stretches and bags. So I will use the 100% wool. Lion brand Woolease is soft, but does not have the water repellent qualities of 100% wool. It is also excellent as a diaper cover for baby’s cloth diapers. We had good success with it using Lion brand Fisherman’s wool or Patton’s wool.

Another thing to consider is the weight of wool or acrylic. I’m seeing a lot of quick and easy patterns using #6 bulky weight yarns. However, they don’t work in frigid northern climates. They get too hot so you take the garment off, which defeats the purpose of the hat. Here in the Frozen Tundra of Green Bay, we mainly wear worsted weight hats even when the temp gets down to -50. I will wear stretchy cheap gloves under my hand knit mittens or fingerless gloves when it’s cold. I take the cheap gloves off when the weather gets warmer. We layer. There’s a lot of talk about how crocheted hats and mittens are too cold because they have big holes. You can solve that problem by doing a linked double or linked half double crochet. But it must be worked in the round.