FAQ

    • What is an alpaca?

    • Why is alpaca fiber hypoallergenic?

    • How do I wash my Alpaca Socks?

    • How do I store my alpaca socks?

    • What if my socks have stubborn stains?

    • Why is alpaca so expensive?

    • Which is your warmest sock?

    • What is the difference between alpaca's fiber and sheep's wool?

    • Does alpaca fiber wick moisture as well as wool?

    • Why use alpaca dryer balls

    • Do you use dyes to color the fibers?

    • How often do they need to be sheared?

    • What is so special about their fiber?

    • I want a special order - how do I do this?

    • Do they make good pets?

    • What do they eat?

    • Are they easy to keep and care for?

    • Do they get along with other animals?

    • How are orders shipped?

    • How much land do they require?


    What is an alpaca? top

    Alpacas are the second newest mammals on Earth. They were bred into existence by breeding a vicuna and a guanaco. Unlike llamas, who are work animals, alpacas were created specifically for their fiber.  Alpacas and their close llama relative are members of the scientific family camelid, as are camels, guanacos and the extremely rare vicuna. The alpaca was imported to the U.S. in the 1980s from South America (Peru, Bolivia and Chile).

    There are two types of alpaca – the Huacaya (pronounced wah–kay–ya), and the Suri (pronounced sir-ee). The main difference between the two is in the appearance of their fiber. The Suri has fine fiber that grows downward on their body and appears to hang in dreadlocks from their body. The Huacaya has very crimpy fiber, which gives them a woolly and round appearance. Both types come in a wide variety of natural colors – 22 different ones in fact - ranging from bright white to true black with all shades of brown and gray.

    alpaca for fibers

     

    Why is alpaca fiber hypoallergenic? top

    Alpaca fiber lacks barbs, scales and lanolin. Lanolin is traditionally found in sheep’s wool and irritates many wearers upon contact.

    alpaca fiber

    How do I wash my Alpaca Socks? top

    There are two ways of washing your 

    1. hand washing
    2. machine washing.

    Hand washing

    When hand washing is advised, we recommend the following method:

    • Use cool water (85ºF / 27ºC max.) and a mild soap or a human hair shampoo.
    • Never use chlorine bleach. Woolite is not recommended.
    • Never use a brush.
    • Fill a container with cold water, pour shampoo and carefully rub the  with the hands. Soak them in the water with care for two or three minutes. Rinse with cold water.
    • To avoid your from losing their shape, press slightly to remove the water. Never wring. Dry flat, reshaping the product and keeping it from direct sunlight.

    Machine washing

    When machine washing is advised, we recommend the following:

    • Use a mild detergent.
    • Wash and dry after turning socks inside out.
    • Machine wash in cold, lay flat to dry or tumble dry on cold/air setting.
    • Do not use the hand wash cycle in a washing machine. Use the wool cycle.
    • Wash dark colors separately.
    • Wash in a mesh laundry bag to reduce agitation. This will avoid the getting stretched and losing their shape.

    How do I store my alpaca socks? top

    • Before storing, make sure that the item is fully dry.
    • In some climates moths could cause a problem. If this is your case, place your in plastic bags with small scented bags, or place cedar chips in the storage area.
    • Sachets using dried lavender are also useful.
    • We do not recommend the use of mothballs.

    What if my socks have stubborn stains? top

    It is best to take your socks to a professional cleaner if you can not remove the stains.

    Why is alpaca so expensive? top

    There are quite a few reasons that alpacas and alpaca fiber is so expensive. For starters, there are fewer alpacas than sheep and there's a lack of industrial infrastructure. There are only about 350,000 alpacas in the U.S., of which are not all high quality. The alpaca industry estimates there needs to be at least 1 million alpacas in the U.S. to support a full time mill and make it affordable. For perspective, there are 6 million sheep in the U.S. with mills able to process sheep's wool into yarn at around $18 per pound whereas processing alpaca's wool costs around $38 per pound. Additionally is costs about $35 per shearing to shear an alpaca versus $2.00 per shearing for sheep. Mills also need specialty machinery to process alpaca fiber and cannot use sheep wool mills' machinery without making major adjustments.  

    Which is your warmest sock? top

    This is a tough question, because any alpaca fiber sock will be really warm if it's situated in a properly fitting shoe. We recommend buying your shoes for your socks, but recognize that can be hard to do. Finding a warm sock is about knowing how socks work and the loft that the socks have. It doesn't matter how thick or breathable a sock is, if it is constricted, it won't be nearly as warm as it could be. Think about when a puffy jacket is hanging normally, the puff is loft. If you stuff that jacket into a very tight space, it compacts and the loft is decreased. That space--the loft--is what allows the sock to work its magic and provide warmth. Long story short--the warmest sock is based off of the shoe. For instance, in a tennis shoe, the warmest sock would be a light to medium sock--not a sock like our arctic sock--because the shoe would only have space for a light to medium sock. IF everything fits, our arctic sock is the "warmest" sock that we have, but you have to make sure there's enough room in your shoes for them!

     

    What is the difference between alpaca's fiber and sheep's wool? top

    Alpaca fiber is stronger and warmer than sheep's wool and holds a much greater wicking capacity. 

    sheep wool

     

    Does alpaca fiber wick moisture as well as wool? top

    Wool has air pockets which gives it a thermal capacity that can absorb up to 50% of its weight. It can sit on the skin without creating any irritations, blisters or odors.  Alpaca fiber is a hollow fiber, so it does not absorb moisture, but rather pushes water away from itself and toward the outside of the fiber, which means there is not a saturation point. For example, You can wear your alpaca socks in rubber boots (no ventilation) and sweat in the socks and the outside of the socks will be damp, but your feet will be dry.

    Why use alpaca dryer balls top

    Since I had to wash a bunch of towels, I decided to test our Alpaca Dryer Balls.

    We already knew they do a great job as a natural non-chemical fabric softener, and have used drops of essential oils on them to add nice scents to laundry, but we wanted to test the effect on laundry dryer times.

    We've been using the same 3 alpaca dryer balls for about 6 years and I love them. But I wanted to know how much energy they might be actually saving me.

    I washed 5 towels 3 hand towels and 3 wash cloths - exact same towels in each load.

    Both loads were washed on hot with the spin cycle between medium and extra high

    Both loads were dried with dry flow sense - very dry setting on medium temperature

    Before each load was dried I ran a different load in the dryer and cleaned the dryer lint trap. So the temperature would be the same starting temp.

    I used the same amount of laundry detergent in both loads and did not use laundry softener in either load

    • The first load with NO dryer balls took 58 minutes
    • The second load with 3 dryer balls took 42.5 minutes.

    That's 15.5 minutes less drying time in the load using 3 alpaca dryer balls

    Using 3 dryer balls cuts down on drying time by 25%.

    If you have any question about this or any of our other products. Let me know.

    Alpaca dryer balls

    Do you use dyes to color the fibers? top

    There are 22 natural colors of alpaca fibers - so you can mix the fibers to create new color variations.

    Bright colors as red, yellow, blue, green, purple etc are dyes.  

    Natural colored fibers:

    Natural colored fibers

    How often do they need to be sheared? top

    Alpacas are usually shorn once a year for their own comfort and is a requirement for alpacas and llamas. In the southern states, huacayas are typically shorn 2x a year. Depending on the density of the fleece each adult alpaca will usually produce from 3 - 10 lbs per year. Some of the high quality stud male's production can often be higher.

    What is so special about their fiber? top

    he fleece shorn from alpacas is hair not wool. It has a silky shine, and super soft feel, yet contains no lanolin and is hypoallergenic. People who have allergies associated with sheep's wool can comfortably wear luxurious alpaca garments. Alpaca fiber is much stronger and yet finer than sheep's wool. It is as soft as cashmere and three times warmer than sheep's wool. Evolving in freezing temperatures at high altitudes has given alpacas more thermal capacity in their fiber than any other fiber bearing animal. Alpaca fiber is officially recognized in 22 different natural colors and is highly prized. It can be processed into high quality fashion garments such as socks, scarves, gloves, suits, jackets, skirts and coats, as well as soft, light, warm sweaters. Because of its thermal properties coarser fibers may also be used in quilt filling. The international market for alpaca product is enormous with demand always exceeding supply.

    I want a special order - how do I do this? top

    You may contact us via our email or give us a call to discuss what you are looking for. 

    Do they make good pets? top

    Many people do have alpacas purely as companion animals – and there must be at least 3 of the same gender kept together. Males and females are kept in separate pastures and ideally not to share a fence line. They are generally not ideal for “pets” similar to dogs BUT if owners are realistic in their expectations they are wonderful animal to raise. They are more cat-like than dog-like in their attitude towards us humans - somewhat timid, but very curious and intelligent, and with handling and time most will eventually eat out of your hand, and can be trained to lead by halter. They do not really like to be held and "petted" and are especially sensitive to being touched on their heads, ears and legs.

    What do they eat? top

     Alpacas are ruminants which means they chew cud like a cow or a deer. The bulk of their diet is made up of good quality grass hay (Orchard is ideal) and/or pasture grass. They are from a harsh climate so they are well adapted to maximize their intake of their food. There are a number of commercially available alpaca feeds, but these should be rationed as a vitamin and mineral supplement. Their primary food source should always be good quality grass and hay. Here in the south, alpacas just like any grazing livestock, tend to drink a lot of water so access to clean, fresh drinking water is a must at all times. Electrolytes is ideal to put in some of the water buckets/troughs but ensure all have access to water with no electrolytes.

    Are they easy to keep and care for? top

    Yes alpacas are relatively easy to keep and care for. They are small and easy to handle. They are hardy animals and are highly resistant to disease. A simple protocol of having fecal tests done on a regular basis (e.g., quarterly) and keep an eye on their weights is a good way to keep on top of their health. Any change in behavior or eating habits is also a red flag that something may be bothering them. The need for veterinary care is minimal with alpacas. They do not challenge fences, and any fence suitable for sheep is suitable for alpacas - barbed wire should be avoided due to potential for fleece damage. A barn is nice but not necessary for their comfort. A simple three sided run-in so they can get out of the elements is recommended. Alpacas come from a harsh climate naturally so they are pretty tolerant of cold conditions but do not fair as well in extreme heat, hence the need for a shelter to provide shade. Here in FL, fans are a necessity and can provide some comfort to them during the highs of summer. Another key to keeping them comfortable during the hot summers is to take a water hose and wet their bellies and chests to bring their core body temperature down. Never wet the top of an alpaca back since it traps the heat in. Their earth-friendly padded feet do no damage to pastures, as found with other livestock.

    Do they get along with other animals? top

    Alpacas are naturally wary of members of the canine family but other than that they do fine with other livestock. They can be easily kept in the same pasture as sheep and llamas. Caution should be used when pasturing alpacas with horses and/or cows due to the risk of the alpacas being injured if kicked. It is our belief housing alpacas with goats is not ideal due to the fact they share the same internal/gut parasites as alpacas. The medicated feed typically given to goats can be toxic to alpacas.

    How are orders shipped? top

    Orders are shipped via Fed Ex or UPS Ground within the United States and via U.S. Global Priority internationally. Delivery is within 5-7 days in the U.S. and within one to two weeks outside the U.S. depending upon the country and customs.

    How much land do they require? top

    Alpacas are ideal if you don't have a lot of acreage. You can comfortably graze between 3 to 5 alpacas on one acre. Although it is not necessary, optimally you should have twice the required acreage so that you can rotate your pastures (i.e. two acres for 5 to 8 alpacas). In addition, it is recommended to always keep males (7 months of age and older) and females in separate pastures as well as not share a fence line. Your males will much calmer if they cannot touch noses with female alpacas