John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Alpacas for Fiber Arts

Alpacas owned by the fiber artist can produce a never ending supply of one of the world's rarest fibers. Fiber artists may choose alpaca ownership as a part of their hobby, or as a means of income from the sale of their hand made creations.

The idea of a fiber artists investing in alpaca ownership is the logical extension of purchasing alpacas as pets. The fiber artist will probably look for an alpaca with a better yield of higher quality fleece than what the average pet quality alpaca will produce. Given this, the fiber artist will probably pay a slight premium for fiber quality alpacas.

There are many good quality male alpacas that fail to meet the high standard of being a herd sire. Many alpaca breeders will part with these animals for $500-$1500 apiece, or sometimes less. Such an alpaca might display some minor conformational defects, or in some cases more serious, but not life threatening, problems, while producing a very high quality fleece. Occasionally one will find barren females that fall in this category also.

A good quality fiber alpaca might produce as much as 10 pounds of sub 30 micron fleece a year. The fiber artist producing one-off hand made goods from this fleece might well recoup their investment in the alpaca within the first year.

Alpaca spins easily. It is free of lanolin, unlike sheep's wool. Many hand spinners produce yarn prior to washing the fleece, choosing instead to wash the finished yarn. It is not unusual for the uninitiated to confuse finished alpaca yarns with man made fibers due to their high luster and smooth hand.

Although not the best material for the task, alpaca fiber can be felted with amazing results. Many fiber artists choose to felt the coarser leg and neck fibers, although excellent felted items have been made from extremely fine blanket, or even cria, fleece.

The fiber artist contemplating alpaca ownership must plan for the same requirements as the pet owner. Besides an annual vet exam, worming and vaccinations, the fiber artist must plan to have the alpacas sheared annually. Also, in some areas mineral and/or feed supplements may be necessary.

For more information about fiber alpacas, contact us. If you are not in our area we will arrange for you to contact a breeder closer to you.

 
Alpaca Sales

"Not farre from hence going on land for fresh water, we met with a Spaniard and an Indian boy driving 8 Llamas or sheepe of Peru which are as big as asses"

-Sir Francis Drake
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