- The oldest and most traditional method of turning alpaca fibre into yarn is hand spinning. Alpaca is a very attractive fibre to the hand spinner as unlike sheep’s wool it is a dry fibre, containing minuscule amounts of lanolin and so can be spun straight from the fleece without the need to scour. Many BAS members sell individual fleeces in all colours to hand spinners. Some will sell carded (or combed) fleece and some washed and carded fleece in small quantities down to as little as 50-500g. The average unsorted alpaca fleece is around 2.5kg and will give a hand spinner enough fine fibre to keep them busy for a very long time.
- A survey of several mills and their processing of suri.
- Australia has great potential for a viable alpaca fibre industry. The Australian Alpaca Association (AAA) was founded in 1989 to provide co-ordination for a growing national herd of high quality alpacas in Australia and to enable a viable and sustainable animal and fibre industry. The Alpaca Co-operative P/L (Alpaca Co-op) was established in 1995 to market products derived from alpaca fibres. Both organisations promote alpaca fibres and products in Australia as well as overseas. Australia has sound pastures and modern technologies for breeding the best stocks and currently has the largest alpaca herd outside South America. There is also an increasing interest in luxury fibres among fashion houses. The alpaca fibre industry in Australia is still very young and relatively small compared to the wool industry, and there has been strong desire to process alpaca fibres in Australia on the established wool processing systems. Knowledge on luxury fibre processing is often kept secret by international processors who have the know-how. Local industry needs to understand the properties of Australian grown alpaca fibres and their processing performance, so that the industry can market the fibre effectively and export high quality alpaca fibre products.
- Alpaca fibre has potential uses in the textile and fashion industries as a luxurious fibre for high-end garments. For such applications, the alpaca fleece first needs to be processed to produce a clean, high quality, uniformly fine fibre for products such as roving and yarn. Prior to mechanically processing in the mills, the fleeces were cleaned, washed and dried for further studies. In this applied research, alpaca fleeces were processed using modified Belfast Mini-mills fibre processing equipment. The alpaca fibre was processed to roving through a series of five machines to produce fine, clean, and uniform fibre products required for textile and related industries.
- A summary of what processing of alpaca fibre into luxury yarn looks like, from raw fiber to finished yarn.