LOVE!!!!! by Ichi Antiquities at Namu
Kordal (who makes Elizabeth Suzann’s knits) –
her designs are so interesting!
Love the “crocodile” knits, and this piece above with the fringe on the sleeves
Han Starnes – based in Nashville, TN,
I have two of her knit pieces and love them to death!
Bare Knitwear – made in Canada, simple designs, and most 100% alpaca or 100% cotton –
I have this blanket
Peruvian Connection – lots of alpaca, but most is knitted with polyamide and/or nylon
Alpaca at Garmentory – as you may or may not already know, Garmentory is my very favorite resource for independent design; you can search and buy all in one cart and it way less overwhelming than etsy IMO 😉
I started looking for alpaca in earnest a year or so in an effort not to buy anymore cashmere (for reasons I’ll enumerate below). I already had the lightweight alpaca sweater by Zady they sent me to review a couple years ago. It’s a very good sweater, but I never really liked the shape/style on me. I noticed it was a bit itchy at first, and still is when I put it on, but after wearing alpaca a while, I’ve noticed that as you wear it, and your body heat warms the fibers up, it softens up and becomes less itchy.
Then, I bought the capote coat by Lauren Manoogian, which I loved, but hardly wore; it was just too bulky and warm for Texas winters, so I sold it.
Now, I have three items:
I prefer 100% alpaca, but it’s harder to find. Most of the items at Peruvian Connection are alpaca mixed with polyamide or nylon. My Lauren Manoogian alpaca coat was a mix of alpaca and polyamide, which in my opinion, made it thicker and “fluffier.” It didn’t necessarily detract from the sweater at all – the poly and nylon threads are added for strength and to help keep the garment’s shape – but now that I have more 100% alpaca items, I don’t think the synthetic fibers are necessary.
- Alpaca fibers have a hollow core which make it lightweight, and warm (it’s true…it’s warmer than you think it will be!)
- it is the strongest of the animal fibers (wool, cashmere, etc.)
- Alpaca fibers are less likely to pill (although alpaca DOES pill – edited to add this after wearing my Lauren Manoogian 100% alpaca sweater a while…)
- Baby alpaca isn’t really from “baby” alpacas, it’s just the first shearing of the animal; the fibers are finer, and softer, but fewer.
- alpaca hooves are softly padded, reducing their environmental impact (this is one of the problems with cashmere goats in Mongolia/China – they are hard on the soil, packing it down, and making it more prone to erosion)
- alpaca are camelids, which thrive in harsh conditions, and are therefore tougher than sheep or goats, and can graze almost anywhere. They need less water, and not too much food.
- Alpaca have bottom teeth that cut the grass rather than pull it up by the root, therefore leaving grasses intact (another problem with the overgrazing of cashmere goats in Mongolia/China)
- alpaca farming, shearing, and knitting are part of Peru’s culture and heritage, artisans and farmers have been perfecting their trades for centuries.
- alpaca come in a range of 20+ different colors, often the fibers are not dyed
- alpaca shearing doesn’t harm the animal, and farmers do not have to engage in mulesing (an inhumane practice still performed on some animals, although it is less widespread than it used to be. Many clothing brands are boycotting wool from farms which engage in mulesing)
All of these factors taken together make alpaca more sustainable, generally, than wool or cashmere, and otherwise a very smart choice for sweaters and coats. I’m convinced 🙂
This Quartz article: Why your next sweater should be alpaca, not cashmere is the best overall resource I’ve found on alpaca. I’ve linked others above in the numbered list.
A final couple of alpaca blend sweaters that are on sale at Shopbop and an additional 25% off with code JOY25:
Do you wear alpaca? What are your favorite resources?
*(if you use my referral link for Garmentory to sign up for an account, you’ll get a $20 credit and so will I)