The advantages of buying alpaca products are endless. The quality of natural alpaca fibre and wool used in the product ensures longevity even if worn frequently. In addition to extreme warmth as well as superior softness, you will find that our alpaca products are easy to care and will give you years of enjoyment.
Our shearing process is an undeniable factor in the quality of our finished products. We practice a very particular series of steps in the harvest of the alpaca’s fibre which is batched into six different grades based on the animal’s micron count (fineness). Meticulous time is spent during the batching process to ensure that the organic fibre is properly utilized in the production of specific products like hats, scarves and mitts. For example, the most luxurious cashmere-like fibre is used specifically for the production of scarves. The warm comfort of natural alpaca fibre on your skin is the perfect accessory during a long Northern winter.
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Not all alpaca yarn and products are created equal.
Yes that’s right. Some products will be identified as pure alpaca but you will find it scratchy and rough. Why is that, you say? Well it all has to do with the preparation and batching of the fibre. Let me explain…
Preparing alpaca is an art and a science. Having a good quality end product is the result of much learning and years of practice… like anything else that is worth mastering. All producers need a basic knowledge of good fibre preparation, but then can access the skills of a qualified grader/sorter to help in final preparations for the mill.
At Meadowview Alpaca Farm we use The Harvest Code of Practice in order to prepare alpaca fibre for processing to ensure the best possible results in the development of finished products. The Code was designed to ensure the success of the alpaca industry across Canada and is one Meadowview Alpaca Farm happily contributed to.
Alpacas generally have a very good coverage of natural fibre on their whole body, however the fineness of the fibre is not equal on all parts of the body. The finest organic fibre is on the blanket—back and sides of the alpaca. Think of a saddle blanket extended. The upper legs become coarser and, over time, begin to show more guard hair. The chest area, called the apron, generally has quite a bit of guard hair, which again, increases and becomes coarser as the animal ages. The neck fibre is usually about the same fineness as the blanket, but much shorter and so cannot be processed with the blanket. The result is, that at shearing time, these areas must be separated immediately in order to avoid contamination of the best quality fibre...that is the blanket. For each animal, we separate the fleece into four bags: the blanket, the neck, the legs or seconds and the apron. Each are combined into one bag and labeled with the animal’s name.
The other issue important to deal with on shearing day is cleanliness. It is very important to send a “clean” fleece to the mill. One filled with vegetation will still have vegetation when the yarn comes back. Too much vegetation will cause problems with the carding machines in processing and will likely be refused by the mill. We make every effort to clean the fleeces even before they are removed from the animals by blowing dust and dirt from their coats and removing the vegetation.
This is what we do to ensure the delivery of a high-quality product to the consumer with the best fibre possible.
After shearing day, the bags of fibre that have been collected are put into batches for processing. The word of the day is “Uniformity,” as each batch must be similar in three essential characteristics: fineness, fibre length, and colour. During this process, we ensure that guard hair and vegetation are also removed.
The fibre is classed into six different grades. Grade One is considered to be the finest fibre, while Grade Six is the coarsest. A classer is responsible for making suggestions regarding the appropriate end product the fibre is suitable for. The quality of the fibre determines whether or not it is suitable for the production of a pair of socks, a scarf, a hat or any other. The classer places instructions into each bag for the next stage of processing. All this information is also stored electronically for future reference.
From the alpaca farmer’s perspective, good fibre preparation means;
· Separating the natural fibre according to fineness, length and colour (although colours can be combined);
· Making sure that organic fibre sent for processing is clean and consistent; the key word is uniformity;
· Selecting the best end product for the wool—i.e. the finer grades are great for fine yarns being used close to sensitive skin areas but not great for alpaca wool socks which need to resist much wear and tear;
· Also selecting blends that combine the best characteristics of alpaca fibre with complementary traits of other fibres such as fine merino, silk, bamboo and others. These selections are also made keeping in mind the end product.
Our socks have a true Canadian story. An eighty-three-year-old man named Leon visited Meadowview Alpaca Farm’s booth at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair with a need for a warm pair of socks that could withstand his passion for long walks.
At the time, the gentleman walked five miles a day and complained of cold feet. With a pair of Meadowview Alpaca Socks, Leon would no longer have this problem.
He bought two pairs, one for daily use, and one as a back-up. While meeting Leon the following year, he praised the product and informed us that he had not yet been required to open the packaging on his “back-up” pair of socks and that he still avidly enjoyed his five-mile walks, but now while wearing a pair of warm, soft alpaca socks.
After the passing of another year, Leon visited the booth at the fair again and told us that he was still wearing the same pair of socks and still taking his daily five-mile walks. After three years of walking in the alpaca socks, Leon appeared at the booth once more, this time declaring he had finally put a hole in them and it was time for a new pair. He again praised the durability and warmth of the product, informing others that there was no sock comparable.
The reason alpaca socks have been reported to be “warmer” than any other is due to the nature of the alpaca fibre. It has a high insulation factor. The cold temperature is stopped from penetrating through the fibre and acts as a barrier. A person’s natural body heat is reflected inward from the barrier of the alpaca fibre. Such garments feel like cashmere, but also have the practical feature of keeping your extremities warm. Meadowview Alpaca Farm recommends that socks be purchased alongside our mitts and tuques for a warm, cozy, Canadian winter.
A client’s son experienced the value of Meadowview Alpaca Farm’s socks firsthand while winter camping and completing his outdoor program. On the first day, most of his peers had wet feet and were cold. The client’s son, however, had worn his warm “Terry” alpaca socks and was toasty warm all weekend.
Even Camilla, Prince Charles’ wife, was impressed with the quality of Meadowview Alpaca socks while visiting their booth at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair! Shop for your very own here!