Section 1.73: Alpaca Compared to Angora, Mohair, or Silk

Alpaca are renowned for producing the world’s most sustainable luxury fiber. Alpaca Fiber can be eco-friendly, softer than cashmere, and warm as polar bear fleece.

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Alpaca Fiber Compared to Angora, Mohair, or Silk

Angora fiber is shorn or plucked from Angora rabbits. The fiber is very slippery and the textile industry often takes advantage of this property by blending angora with wool to make spinning easier and to reduce production costs. 

  • Angora fiber is finer than either Cashmere or Merino.
  • Angora fiber is hollow, giving it insulating properties. It is usually blended with other fibers, such as wool or silk.
  • To achieve the finest quality angora yarn, it should be handspun with high twist, to ensure minimum shedding.
  • When angora is blended with silk, its strength is enhanced.
  • Angora fiber length varies by rabbit breed.
  • Angora felts easily.
  • Angora is easily dyed and retains dye longer than wool.
  • Angora is considered a luxury fabric in terms of both appearance and feel.

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Alpaca Fiber Compared to Mohair

Mohair is produced by Angora goats and closely resembles Suri fiber.

  • Mohair locks tend to be twisting, long, bright, and silky.
  • The vast majority of mohair is white. Although colored mohair has recently become available, it is produced in very small quantities at this time.
  • Mohair is said to be stronger and more resilient than wool, and was frequently used for commercial grade upholstery for trains and the like, in years gone by.
  • White mohair takes dye very well and, therefore, is frequently available in strong, brilliant colors.
  • Mohair has no crimp and is commonly blended with wool to add loft. Mohair is often processed into worsted fabrics, due to the long length of its fiber. Since mohair has no crimp, it is not well-suited for the woolen process, unless a crimp machine is used. .
  • Angora goats grow approximately one inch of fiber per month and are, therefore, shorn twice each year, with each fleece tending to carry staples up to six inches in length.

Alpaca Fiber Compared to Silk

Silk is a fiber produced by the larvae of various insects during the construction of cocoons. Silks used for textile manufacture come principally from cocoons spun by moth caterpillars called silkworms. Most of the world supply of silk is produced in Japan and China. Silk is resilient, has excellent memory, excellent strength, and is both warm in winter and cool in summer. When blended with other fibers, silk enhances the overall strength and comfort of its partner fiber. The signature brightness of silk comes from the unique triangular shape of each fiber. Silk fibers are able to refract light, like a prism, at many angles. Most protein fibers, including alpaca, are cylindrical in shape. 

  • Silk is versatile and very comfortable, cool in summer and warm in winter.
  • Silk absorbs moisture up to 11% of its weight.
  • Silk is naturally hypoallergenic.
  • Silk is easily dyed.
  • Silk has only a moderate ability to resist abrasion, yet it is the strongest natural fiber – considered to be as strong as steel.

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Note: The silkworms are killed before the moth can emerge from the cocoon. Alpacas are no kill!

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