What is an alpaca?

There are two kinds of alpaca: the suri, which mainly serves for industrial manufacturing and the huacaya, which is well adapted to hand made production. It is quite difficult to spin alpaca wool with a machine. All products sold at the Alpaqa boutique are made with huacaya.

The wild ancester of the alpaca is called a vicuña. Its hair is even finer and softer than the alpaca's and very expensive. It is only recently that the vicuña can be kept in captivity.

Alpaca may be spelt two different ways; the most commonly used, "alpaca", is the same for Anglophones and Peruvians who speak Spanish, Quechua or Aymara. In modern French, we use "alpaga". The Alpaqa boutique is written with a Q to indicate its location in Quebec.

As mentioned previously, it is a species of camel living in the Peruvian Andes. Although it resembles a lama, it isn't one. Since Lamas have much rougher hair. Lamas are used for transporting alpaca wool to the markets. Alpaca farms on the Altiplano, are located at 3,800 meters altitude or more. The high altitude cold air is beneficial to alpacas and is responsible for a thick and high quality coat. From a scientific point of view, the alpaca's coat is made of hair, which, like human hairs, are long empty tubes, contributing to unequalled thermal and insulating properties. As a matter of fact, this fibre was used by NASA at the beginning of space exploration. When it comes to natural fibres, alpaca is the best.

Besides all this, there are an impressive range of colors; thus no dye is used, which adds to the natural charm of this fibre. Alpacas are often beige, white, brown or black. Other more rare tints are obtained by coupling different animals, but the results are unpredictable. Grey, for instance is quite difficult to obtain, but extremely prized when it is pure. An undeniable advantage to alpaca is the fact that this wool is neither allergenic nor itchy. It can be worn even by people with sensitive skin.

The alpacas are free animals and their raising is ecological. The animals are raised in their natural habitat where they calmly eat plants they cut with their teeth without uprooting them. This allows this high altitude region to continue providing the food they need, since the vegetation is quite scarce in the tundra. Alpacas have big camel's hooves which don't sink into the turf. Just like these animals which do not disturb nature, the raising and commerce of the alpaca and its derived products should remain ecological and equitable. This is well understood by the Dent family, their associates and friends: they respect it and encourage it. Behind each product of the Alpaqa boutique are smiles and handshakes and beasts running in the cool air.

The young alpacas are so cute!
The young alpacas are so cute!

The most common colors are beige, white, brown and black.
The most common colors are beige,
white, brown and black.

The alpacas hair has unequalled thermal and insulating properties!The alpacas hair has unequalled thermal and insulating properties!
The alpacas hair has unequalled thermal
and insulating properties!

The alpaca cuts plants with its teeth instead of uprooting them. This allows a renewal of the vegetation in the tundra.
The alpaca cuts plants with its teeth instead of uprooting them. This allows a renewal of the vegetation in the tundra.

Alpacas farming on the Altiplano at a 4,700 meters altitude.
Alpacas farming on the Altiplano
at 4,700 meters altitude.

 
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