The gold of the Incas

Baby Alpaca is one the most valuable and appreciated wool kinds world-wide. The warm, extra fine wool fleece of the delicate Lama relatives exhibit, just like Pima cotton, a naturally silky gloss and are therefore called the gold of the Incas or also as the fleece of the Gods.

Characteristics of Baby Alpaca Wool

  • Thermal: particularly temperature optimizing due to the isolating effect of the Alpaca fibre which is hollow on the inside, storing the heat in winter and having a body warmth adjusting effect in the summer; Baby Alpaca is significantly warmer than regular sheep wool
  • Comfortable feel: soft like Kashmir, extremely light (fibre diameter lies between 23,0 and 20.1 µ) and scratch resistant
  • Antibacterial effect: as opposed to regular sheep wool, Alpaca displays a very small quantity of Lanolin (wool grease); therefore bacteria cannot reproduce and die off quickly on the fibre surface, which prevents infections and contributes to the excellent skin tolerability
  • Feel: silky soft and velvety smooth
  • Optics: naturally silky, shimmery gloss (see. Pima silk cotton)
  • Natural colour variety: We find Alpaca fibres in approximately 40 different natural colour nuances (with 22 main colours), from ivory white to grey, brown and black tones

Origin

Alpacas are part of the family of the Lamas, which are particularly found for many thousands of years in the Peruvian Andes at over 3500 m height. To this very day, more than 90% of all Alpacas world-wide live in the Peruvian mountains.

Already some hundreds year before the appearance of the Inca kingdom („Tahuantinsuyu “), techniques were developed in today’s Peru, which allowed manufacturing high-quality textiles from the noble and warm Alpaca fibres. Their Andes fibre had its time of prosperity under the Incas. Only the best was good enough for that Inca leader, “the descendant” of the Sun God. And as far as his clothes were concerned, this requirement was only satisfied by the fibres of Alpacas and Vicuñas, another kind of Lama.

The meaning of “the Inca gold”

Careful shearing of Alpaka

Alpaca wool equally fulfilled two different tasks. On the one hand, due to its unmistakably noble character, which was again highlighted due to the attachment of gold elements on the clothes, on the other hand due to its special thermal characteristics. In Cusco, located above 3400 m, which was the centre of the Inca kingdom and at the same time the seat of the government of the Inca dynasty, temperatures occasionally drop under 10 degrees, which makes heat-storing clothes imperatively necessary.

At that time, only the Sapa Inca, the king, and his closest entourage, had the privilege of wearing clothes made of Alpaca. This privilege has very soon turned Alpaca into a luxury fibre, which was reserved only to a few persons. The people, on the other hand, had to be content with simpler and less fine Lama wool.

What at the beginning of the 16th century still belonged to a part of the wealth of the country, was threatened to fall into oblivion after the Spanish conquest. The Peruvian Lamas have gradually been made room in the sheep breeding, and the meaning of Alpakas was reduced to their function as meat animals.

The unique Alpaca fibre was only rediscovered again in the age of the industrialization, in the 19th century. An Englishman named Sir Titus Salt of London was the one who drew the attention of various fashion houses about the distinctiveness of this luxury fibre and thus contributed crucially to the revival of Alpaca breeding.

Today Alpaca is considered a luxury fibre, which is particularly used by renowned fashion designers for exclusive articles of clothing.

The Peruvian Lama and its wool

Alpacas are part of the Andes

Alpacas belong to the family of lamas and feel best at over 3000 m height. In the Altiplano, the High Plateau, shepherds living there take care of the breeding and shearing of the Alpacas. Their breeding on the roughest and largest foothills of the Peruvian Andes is laborious and very time-consuming, yet it is worthwhile in terms of quality and uniqueness of the wool.

Alpacas are sheared mostly once every year, at the beginning of the summer. The wool production per Alpaca is on average 3 kg.

Although the designation “Baby” Alpaca suggests that this can only be the fleece of young animals, this is not entirely correct. Baby Alpaca broadly means the first shearing. This is softer and finer than all the sheerings following after it. Baby Alpaca owes its special quality and exclusiveness to the small yield and the wonderful softness of this first shearing.

Mama Ocllo’s Baby Alpaca Wool

Hand-knitted baby boots

Top quality wool is used for our hand-knitted baby Alpaca booties , wool which on the one hand promotes sustainable animal breeding in the Andes and on the other hand leads to a valuable additional income for our knitters in Puno.

Important for us in this respect is the direct co-operation with the knitters of the Manuela Ramos NGO and thus the renouncement to intermediaries. In this way we receive valuable insights in the production chain, we can insure the fair conditions of work and we are able to offer our hand-knitted quality products to the German-speaking market for reasonable prices.