“Come touch these!” I called over to my friends at the Christmas market booth. I thought I found the softest fur I ever touched.
“They’re from alpacas.” The shopkeeper walked over and I shyly drew back my hand, but he smiled and continued. “The special thing about alpaca, is that each strand of fur is a hollow tube. It’s not a twisted fiber like sheep’s wool, so there are no rough edges.”
Alpacas are animals in the same family as llamas and camels. They have very long and full fur, so their annual haircut gives us alpaca fleece that can be used to make scarves, hats, socks, and incredibly soft stuffed animals like the ones I encountered at the market.
The shopkeeper explained that the smooth strands of the alpaca makes alpaca fleece very soft, a great alternative for people like me who get itchiness from sheep wool. The hollow strands mean alpaca fleece is much warmer and lighter too (air helping to insulate is a concept I mentioned in my earlier post on double-paned windows).
Who thought I would learn something new about alpacas while enjoying the holiday spirit at the Christmas market…
Thanks to Winterbourne Alpaca staff, Vancouver Christmas Market 2014.