Saturday, February 19, 2011

THe qualities of alpaca fleece

As with all fleece-producing animals, quality varies from animal to animal, and some alpacas produce fiber which is less than ideal. Fiber and conformation are the two most important factors in determining an alpaca's value.

Alpacas come in many shades from a true-blue black through browns-black, browns, fawns, white, silver-greys, and rose-greys.[1] However, white is predominant,[1] because of selective breeding: the white fiber can be dyed in the largest ranges of colors. In South America, the preference is for white as they generally have better fleece than the darker-colored animals. This is because the dark colors had been all but bred out of the animals. The demand for darker fiber sprung up in the United States and elsewhere, however in order to reintroduce the colors, the quality of the darker fiber has decreased slightly. Breeders have been diligently working on breeding dark animals with exceptional fiber, and much progress has been made in these areas over the last 5–7 years.[citation needed]

[edit] Dyeing Alpaca fiberBefore dyeing the alpaca fiber must go through other stages:

Selection of wool, according to color, size and quality of fiber

"Escarminado", Removal of grass, dirt, thorns, and other impurities

Washing, to remove all the dirt and grease.


Once the fiber is clean then it is possible to begin with the process of dyeing.

Natural dyeing: (recipe used by Andean artisans): To dye 1 kg of alpaca wool with cochinilla (natural dye).

Boil 5 liters of water in an aluminum can with 100 g of cochinilla for an hour.

Sift and put the wool in the water.

Boil again for an hour and add 50 lemons cut in halves.

Then take out the wool and hang for drying.

Note: For dyeing with another natural dye (native plants) add 2 kg, of the products to the water and boil.

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