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Baby Alpaca Infinity Scarves

A good scarf ends up being your go to accessory, one of your best friends in the winter. We’ve also heard them referred to as a security blanket that you get to wear around your neck every day.

Whether best friend or security blanket (or both), there’s no denying that once you have found a favorite, you tend to treasure it. We love infinity scarves because they are simple and easy to wear – you don’t have to dip into the science of how to properly tie a scarf. With our alpaca scarf, you can either wrap the scarf 3 times for a tight and completely windproof approach, or 2 times if you want a looser drape in the front or something that can be worn off the shoulder.

We constructed these beautifies on the Stoll machine with a seed stitch, or moss stitch, pattern which gives the knit a lot of bounce and stretch. The yarn is made from 100% baby alpaca fleece, and my is it soft. Soft like you need to keep running your hands over it, rub your cheek on it, and cuddle with it before bed. Dare we forget to mention how warm it is! Alpaca is a hollow fiber, which means that air can get trapped in the core of each fiber and create a little tiny pocket of warmth – just what you need for a brisk walk in the cool morning air.

This alpaca is sourced from the Andean Cordillera in South America – and not the hallowed fields of the United States (like all of our other fibers up until this point). “Why?!”, screams the purist in all of us, “would Appalatch source from Peru?” The short answer is – we trust it, it’s extremely high quality, and we can’t find it anywhere else.

The long answer is that we tried to source this kind of alpaca yarn completely in the United States and we hit so many road blocks that we would have had to hire another full time employee to work them out, and even then we couldn’t guarantee that the yarn needed exists yet. Don’t get us wrong, we are working on it, and as soon as we can switch sourcing yarn for these products to a totally domestic source, we will. In fact, we have a box of raw alpaca fiber sitting in the office right now that we are working to develop into a beautiful yarn for knitting on the machines (it may take us 2 years to get there, but we are doing it).

The reason high quality baby alpaca is so hard to source in the United States is scarcity. Folks do farm alpaca in the States, but many of them farm these alpaca for pets rather than for their micron count. You might find a small farm with 30 alpaca and only 2-3 of them produce a fiber of the quality that you might wear around your neck. There are larger alpaca ranches to be sure, but we have found that their fibers are mostly funneled into the hand knitting biz and as of yet, they are not made for the machine knitting game. So, logically, if each farm has at least a little bit of fiber shouldn’t they all get together and pool their fine fiber and share the proceeds? Yes! Sometimes they actually do. They form alpaca fiber co-ops and together they make knitting yarn, socks, and other awesome alpaca products. These are the folks we have bought our raw alpaca fleece from.

The biggest problem we have encountered is that walking this alpaca through our existing wool supply chain is impossible because we are grouping 2 different animals whose fleeces are not usually spun together on the types of machines that make machine knitting yarn in the good old USA. At least, not yet anyway. We hope that the current demand for domestically sourced and spun alpaca continues so that we can easily attain such a product, but in the mean time we are turning to a responsible alpaca yarn maker in a country that has made farming feather fine alpaca fiber its business. We told you it was a long story!

So why Peru? Alpacas have been bred in South America for their fiber for thousands of years, and there is a large fiber industry in Peru based around processing, spinning, and making products with Alpaca yarn. Mills in Peru will sort all of the alpaca they process into the 22 different colors that alpaca fleece naturally grows in (a process not done in the states). This means that the beautiful whites, blacks, grays, and browns that you see in alpaca yarns are actually the color that that yarn grew in. Our gray alpaca scarf is made of un-dyed alpaca fiber!  The alpaca we are using, in particular, comes through an organization that is helping farmers in rural areas to improve their herds fine fiber yield. This practice adds values to their herds and helps to ensure that their practices and heritage can continue to be handed down year after year, rather than being snuffed out and forgotten due to competition with finer synthetic fibers. For our part, we hope alpaca farming is NEVER supplanted by synthetic fibers. Alpaca is a totally renewable resource, and with proper farming techniques the grazing herds prevent desertification of grassland, which offer a natural source of carbon sequestration.

If you have any type of resource for domestic alpaca that we are just missing in our never ending quest, please feel free to email me at...

grace@appalatch.com

 

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