We have an alpaca farm right across the road from us. These fascinating creatures are fun to watch and something really different for our neck of the woods. My horses just can't figure out whether to be afraid of them or not!
I've been doing a little research on alpaca yarn and I think I'm going to have to give it a try in my knitting. I'm allergic to pure wool, so I usually stay away from that, but I'm finding out that Alpaca's largest advantage is that, unlike wool, it is hypo-allergenic. That means that people who are allergic to wool will not have a problems with alpaca wool.
Another great thing about alpaca yarn is that it is a hollow core fiber which will keep you warmer than wool when you need to be warm, but breathes when you need to be cool. It is also smoother than wool so will not have the itch factor that wool has.
The down side is that alpaca does not have as much elasticity as wool so therefore when items made with it are stretched they will not go back to their original shape. Don't let this scare you though, because alpaca has a beautiful drape.
There are also a few things you can do to avoid having a problem with it:
1. Use a blended yarn (about 70% alpaca and 30% wool.
2. Choose small projects that don't necessarily need to hold shape.
3. Knit or crochet tighter.
4. Twist stitches to keep the "memory" in your project.
One other tip for knitting with alpaca is to use wooden knitting needles as it can be very slippery to work with.
Armed with these facts, I'm ready to give alpaca a try on some projects in the very near future. I'll let you know how they turn out.