Baby alpaca yarn is yarn spun from alpaca fiber that is fine enough to be classified as “baby alpaca.” Alpaca fiber is classified not by age of the animal, but by the diameter of the hair. Baby alpaca is the finest, softest yarn, and it is highly prized for knitting and other crafts. It also tends to be very costly.
Alpacas are camelids related to llamas and vicunas. They grow coats of dense, fine hair that is very strong and has superb insulating properties. They are periodically sheared so that their fleeces can be combed, sorted, and spun into yarn and thread. Alpaca yarns are extremely warm, very soft, and somewhat shiny or glossy. They do not repel water well because alpacas do not produce lanolin.
In the case of baby alpaca yarn, the yarn is made with alpaca hair that is 21-23 microns wide. Superfine alpaca yarn is made with somewhat larger hairs, while suri is the coarsest alpaca fiber. People who are experienced with handling and processing alpaca hair can grade the raw fiber by weight, feel, and heft. Grading takes place soon after shearing to determine how much a given alpaca fleece is worth.
Alpacas naturally come in an array of colors including cream, gray, and brown. Undyed baby alpaca yarn is available in many hues and shades that people can blend if desired, and it also comes in an array of weights, from very fine yarns for projects like socks to chunkier novelty yarns. Dyed baby alpaca yarn is produced with both natural and synthetic dyes in an array of colors and can be suitable for many different types of crafting projects.
Spinners can use various techniques to produce baby alpaca yarn, including twisting multiple strands together and creating fiber blends with other materials. People who are interested in producing their own yarns can purchase raw fiber from fiber cooperatives, knitting suppliers, and alpaca farmers. The level of processing the fiber has been subjected to can vary. Sometimes it is sold all ready for spinning and in other cases it must be prepared.
Working with baby alpaca yarn is usually very easy. The yarn is soft and flexible without being excessively stretchy and it can be worked in a variety of gauges. After a knitting project is finished, it should be washed and blocked out to hold its shape. Washing with cool to warm water with mild soap or detergent and hanging dry or drying on a low heat cycle is recommended.