THE STORY OF ALPACAS

Hidden in the mists of the high Andes, a mystical and almost magical little animal – the alpaca has journeyed over five millennia, domesticated and in partnership with their human owners.

1000 years before the Great Pyramid of Giza was completed, the ancient ancestors of the Inca were measuring their wealth by the numbers of alpacas they owned, enjoying the finest garments woven from the fleece of their great alpaca herds.  Members of the pre-Incan nobility were draping themselves in multicoloured robes of gossamer sheen produced from the alpaca fibre.

Alpacas helped contribute to a thriving economy

The Pre-Inca people were expanding a thriving economy built in part on the commercial value of the treasured alpacas. They were the first to use selective breeding, producing alpacas whose quality of fleece was truly magnificent, until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in the 17th century AD.

Survived and thrived in a changing land

The Alpaca treasured for 4,000 years, was viewed as a competitor for grazing lands of the Spaniard’s sheep, and therefore more useful as a source of meat.  This deliberate decimation of the great alpaca herds would have led to the eventual extinction of these delightful animals, however as the surviving Inca’s fled to the sanctuary of the highest reaches of the Andes with their prized alpacas, in exile a much more hardy and healthy alpaca developed in the stern and demanding highlands.

Almost indestructible, fine woven alpaca garments in remarkably good condition have recently been discovered in Peruvian ruins dating back 2,500 years.

Indigenous to the Peruvian highlands they are one of the most beautiful of the South American Camelids, related to the Llama, Guanacos and Vicuna.  There is an estimated 3.5 to 4.5 million Alpacas exisiting worldwide, 98% of them still located in Peru.  Bred in altitudes ranging from 3,500 to 4,500 metres above sea level, where they withstand temperatures that fluctuate between minus 20 degrees to plus 30 degrees in a single day.  There are fewer than one Alpaca per acre, in Peru, and this minimizes the impact of farming on the environment as well as giving grazed pasture time to regenerate.

Alpaca fibre is prized thanks to its natural properties.  The combination of unique weather conditions and a low-protein diet allows Alpacas to grow fine hair that is comparable to the other special, high quality fibres such as Cashmere, Angora and Mohair

Alpacas are shorn every 12 -18 months yielding about 2 to 3 kilograms of fibre per animal.

The Michell group our supplier, is the pioneer and leading company in the field of transforming this noble fibre into luxurious yarns, working harmoniously with nature, the environment and with the utmost respect for the local population.