Is alpaca fiber hypoallergenic?

 

Have you ever wondered what makes alpaca "poor man's cashmere?" You may have asked yourself, "Is alpaca fiber hypoallergenic? Why is it so soft? Why are there different kinds?" We're here to answer the call! 

Alpaca fiber has skyrocketed in popularity in the last 10 years. Suddenly, alpaca farms are cropping up everywhere, and spinners, knitters, and crocheters alike are in love with this super soft yet affordable fiber. Just like wool, there are different breeds of alpacas that have slightly different textured fiber. In addition, there's also baby alpaca fiber, which isn't only produced from baby alpacas! 

Alpacas have been bred across South America for hundreds of years, and were originally used to make clothing for royalty. A smaller species called the vicuna is still incredibly rare, and produce the world's most expensive yarn. Alpacas, though, are hardy creatures bred for tough mountain environments. Nowadays, a large male alpaca can produce 7kg of fiber, with 3kg of that being high quality fiber for spinning yarn. The rest of the fleece can be blended with other fibers to create woven textiles for clothing and accessories. 

Alpacas are popular due to their friendly temperament and their low impact on the environment. The only thing better than economical, super soft fiber is knowing that it didn't cause a large carbon footprint too! 

Alpaca fiber hypoallergenic

So, what makes alpaca fiber hypoallergenic?

Sheep's wool has a naturally occurring oil called lanolin, which some unlucky people have an allergy to. While most yarns are treated to remove most of the lanolin, those with allergies have a super sensitivity to the oil. Alpacas, however, do not produce any lanolin! The fibers have a unique construction and a natural waterproofing that means they don't need to produce the oil at all. 

Some people might have sensitive skin, and may prefer non-animal fibers like cotton and bamboo, but alpaca is indeed hypoallergenic. Exciting news for those with wool allergies!

Ready to take the plunge? Here are some alpaca yarn options! 

Pure alpaca yarns

Amano Apu: 100% imperial alpaca fiber (click here to learn more)

Rooster Yarns 4-ply Alpaca: 100% superfine alpaca fiber (click here)

Alpaca blend yarns

Yarn Stories Fine Merino and Alpaca DK: 70% merino, 30% alpaca (click here)

Manos del Uruguay Serena: 70% baby alpaca, 30% pima cotton (click here)

Rooster Almerino Aran: 50% merino wool, 50% baby alpaca (click here)

Rowan Alpaca Soft DK (pictured in the header on this page): 70: virgin wool, 30% alpaca (click here)

Want to search for yourself? Click here to see all alpaca fiber yarns!