Do you like Alpaca?

I started MMarios FSL shawl yesterday using some Lions Brand laying around. 30% Alpaca, 30% wool, 40 acrylic.

I went to the store today to buy new yarn (I do not have a big stash) and start over. That alpaca was so hard to work with. The spin (whatever you call it) would separate and made it hard to work the needles with as you would grab most but not all yarn. It shed alot too.

Is this an isolated incident?

Celowin's picture

I've only worked with alpaca on one project... it was a 70% wool, 30% alpaca blend, in a lace weight. I didn't notice any of the problems you describe, but maybe that is at least partially because the yarn was so thin in the first place.

Honestly, I'm enough of a yarn snob that my first thought would be to place the blame on the acrylic portion of the yarn rather than the alpaca. That is just a gut feeling, though, without the experience to back it up.

RCC's picture

I just started a project with some wonderful 100% alpaca fresh from Peru. I'm not having very good luck with speed......I've tried every type of needle and none of them seem to take well to the alpaca. The knitting is going very slow with metal needles but the wooden, bamboo and plastic didn't work well at all.....they all seemed to create a tug with the yarn.

Any suggestions or experiences that others can share?


drmel94's picture

I use primarily Addi turbos or Brittanys (mostly Addis) and both work well for me. What brand of yarn is it? Some of it may have to do with the way the yarn is spun, as a more loosely spun yarn will be more prone to catch on any little imperfection on the needle. In general, though, alpaca tends to be more slippery than wool, as it has a smaller scale structure on the hair shaft. You might also need to just work it on smaller needles if using wood or plastic and knit more loosely so that it will glide better.

"Hatred does not end by hatred; hatred ends by love. This is the eternal law." - Buddha

Well, I am kinda a snob too but I just prefer natural fibers to manmade. Does not have to be expensive...just more of an environmental thing I guess (for me). The yarn I bought today is 100% wool but I guess the way it was is very stretchy, so it is out for the shawl. Ugh

I found the Alpaca to be the same as you RCC.

Parrot's picture

I have worked with alpaca and alpaca blends several times. I really enjoyed knitting with it. I have only knitted scarves with it, which were well received and used by the recipients. I think I use metal needles. Most of the time I used either wood or bamboo. I prefer to use natural fibers, and enjoy trying new fibers, such as bamboo, soy, hemp, and corn. Most of the time I use wool or wool blends, especially with silk. One of my favs to use is Noro Silk Garden. I just like the feel of the natural fibers over acrylic . . not a fiber snob, just know what I feels good to me.


Craig's picture

To stop the yarn from shedding, place in a plastic bag a put it in the freezer for about half an hour.

Have been knitting for years. I knit continually then will try another craft, but will return to the needles.

SKHolt's picture

I love alpaca and have used it in a couple of projects. The most recent was a lace weight scarf. I don't have any of the problems you described. I suspect, you described it yourself, that it is the spin. I've been working with a microfiber, lion brand yarn, the twist is awful, the yarn tends to split, etc. As a spinner, I should've watched out for that little problem. But the feel of the yarn was so amazing (even though it was synthetic). Twist is important.

scenter's picture

That microfiber wouldn't be 'Lion Brand Microspun' would it? -That stuff splits just by looking at it wrong. It does feel silky when knit or crocheted, but how many times do you have to unknit to catch that one little fiber that got away and is floating freely above the right side of the fabric.....grrrrr.

drmel94's picture

I would say that 30% alpaca really isn't very much alpaca. At least it's 70% not-alpaca. My experience with some Lion Brand yarns, too, is that they tend to be relatively lightly spun, which makes them prone to splitting. Which is, of course, a major PITA.

"Hatred does not end by hatred; hatred ends by love. This is the eternal law." - Buddha

MMario's picture

I like alpaca almost as much as I like KidSilkHaze....and that's quite a bit! But - ANY fiber can be worked up into a bad yarn....I've had good liuck with the KnitPicks alpaca and blends.

MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

scenter's picture

I love alpaca - it's the brand that's the problem, not the fiber itself.

I have used Misti Alpaca (lace weight), and Blue Sky Chunky (chunky weight), and Elsebeth Lavold's Baby Llama (worsted weight) recently, and they are soft, easy fibers to knit.

I am thinking maybe it is the Lions Brand. Except...there are "stiff" hair pieces...I think I will be more selective next time.

But last night, I needed a I restarted it again with the alpaca....

BuduR's picture

Bwahahahaha Tucker, you are a sick sick man!

MWK's Token Estrogen-American

MMario's picture

yeah, he is hooked allright!
MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

I really enjoy working with alpaca yarn. Infact, im knitting a really simple scarf for my grandpa using Bernat 30% Alpaca and 70% Acrylic. It might be that im using very slippery plastic needles, but the yarn seems to just glide right over them.

Of course there is the occasional splitting of the yarn but nothing unlike any other yarn ive encountered.

I suppose that's what you get for using Lion Brand. Also, it could have been god punishing you for using an ALPACA/ACRYLIC BLEND?!?!

I'm really not trying to sound like a snob, but I hate synthetics, all of them. I find that if you just look hard enough, you can find something that will work better for you, made of something you'd have never guessed could be made into a fibre, much less yarn.

In the case of Alpaca, it's one of the best things on earth, as far as texture, strength and warmth goes. However, it is not very stretchy. Of course, you can find a lot of light, soft stuff out there that will give you a fair bit of stretch, but it all just needs to be handled gently while you're working with it. It's REALLY warm stuff, almost too warm, really. I started making hats for my friends in High School (We lived about a half hour from the largest ski resort in the state.), and found that a nice bulky-weight cotton thread, mixed in with a similar weighted Alpaca, knitted thick on 10.5 needles makes for the warmest, most breathable thing you'll ever put on your head, without making you sweat your hair out. The one thing you can't solve is the unending fuzz factor.

As far as needles go, for most of my straight needle work I use Takumi "Clover" bamboo needles, (and Brittany ash needles when I need a little more grip) which never give me a sticking problem. You'll want to avoid lower-quality bamboo needles, as the type/portion of the stalk creates a rough surface on the point of the needle, but the kind I use have a smoother working surface than metal, and with a longer life if they're treated nicely.

adam the teacher's picture

I just wanted to add a somewhat related note regarding alpacas and fiber for knitting.

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit a few fiber farms in Vermont just last week, I went to Snowshoe Farm near Peachtree - a great alpaca operation!!!; I also went to Tregelly Fiber Farm in western Mass - and was very let down. That couple is just doing their farm all wrong. They are rare animal collectors of too many varieties, and are not even doing any fiber harvesting anymore.

We want to quit the rat race and start a farm in New England - either Vermont, New Hampshire, or western Mass - and raise animals for fiber (as well as dairy/cheese/etc) probably have some long-haired goats for cashmere, some alpacas, some sheep - and the obligatory chickens for eggs, an organic vegetable garden, oh you know the dream.

this is what all the folks burned out on metro density always say, isn't it?

yesterday, it worked.
today, it is not working.
Windows is like that.

yesterday, it worked.
today, it is not working.
Windows is like that.