Cuddle with a Camelid: Spin Alpaca and Camel
“Is it a lamb or a llama?” Whitney Dorband, a proprietor of Belvedere Fine Fibers (and former Spin-Off staffer), hears questions like this one often. Minding her huacaya alpacas at the National Western Stock Show, she gets lots of attention for her adorable (if a bit reserved) critters. To some people, an alpaca looks like a teddy bear on four legs—and the fiber is as cuddly and irresistible, too. Spinning alpaca is an affordable luxury.
Huacaya alpaca is well known among spinners for its buttery softness and incredible warmth. Not as many of us have the chance to spin suri alpaca, the long, silky fiber from the huacaya’s cousin. Suri is uncommon and therefore a little precious but definitely worth seeking out. Lustrous suri fiber can rival cashmere for softness in the finest grade and longwool for durability in the coarser grades. Corespinning, bouclé, and from-the-fold techniques make suri shine—literally.
Camels have a bad reputation, it seems—most people think first of spitting beasts of burden when they imagine camels. But Bactrian camels have a lovely multi-coated fleece that can be anything from tough tents to lighter-than-air lace. Less expensive than bison, yak, and qiviut, it shares the same warm, soft, short, and crimpy properties. Camel down is underappreciated as a spinner’s delight.
Spin Alpaca and Camel Kit
The Spin Alpaca and Camel Kit includes generous samples of all three fibers for your spinning pleasure. To help you transform each of these fibers into the yarn of your dreams, the kit also includes a download of Judith MacKenzie’s video Spinning Luxury Fibers: Camelids and the Winter 2016 edition of Spin-Off, which includes articles on spinning alpaca and camel.