(PRWEB) October 31, 2004
Rarer and finer than even cashmere, alpaca wool is the softest, warmest, lightest, and healthiest fiber you can find. When you wear it, you enjoy a privilege once limited only to the noble or wealthy. Almost lost to us through over-hunting and isolation, alpacas now thrive not only in their native lands but in many other countries as well. These charming animals and the fantastic fleece they produce is shared by more people worldwide every year.
Alpaca has always meant luxury. Native Andean tribes first domesticated this descendant of the wild vicuÃ±a almost six thousand years ago. Beginning one of the earliest selective breeding programs in history, the result was a hardy yet docile creature with very fine fleece. So exquisite was alpaca wool that it became a measure of wealth in Andes society, the clothing of which only priests and royalty wore for centuries. After the fall of the Incan Empire, though, Spanish colonists viewed alpaca as competition to their sheep and slaughtered them almost to extinction. A few native tenders escaped with their precious herds, which they bred high on the Altiplano of South America. Due to the harsh conditions and poaching, these animals continued to dwindle in numbers.
Secluded from the rest of the world, the alpaca was almost forgotten until the 1800Âs, when Sir Titus Salt invented an industrial method for manufacturing its wool. Using this rare and extremely fine specialty fiber, he produced a wonderful, soft cloth made for high fashion designs, including very expensive dresses popular with wealthy women throughout Europe. Alpaca apparel went into style in the United States during the 1920Âs and has enjoyed rising demand here ever since.
A new era began in the 1980Âs when alpacas from selected Chilean herds were exported to the United States and other countries. Generous tax benefits and excellent investment potential attracted many initial alpaca breeders. Because they are easy to raise, gentle on the environment, not raised for slaughter, and very friendly, people from all walks of life soon joined them not only for monetary gain but also the refreshing lifestyle running an alpaca farm offers. Nearly 50,000 alpacas live in the United States today, a number set to rise steadily over the next decades.
Rarity alone does not account for the great allure of alpaca clothing. Though five times warmer than sheep wool, alpaca wool is much lighter and breathes better than any thermal knit. It is free of oils and microscopically smooth , which makes it hypoallergenic and very comfortable even on bare skin. Although it dyes easily, the twenty-two recognized natural colors reduce the need for artificial coloring, allowing the fiber to retain its inherent characteristics without sacrificing variety. Clothing made of this material is resilient, durable, and lasts for generations - sometimes even hundreds of years!
Purely Alpaca proudly offers you authentic alpaca products from around the world. Our extensive catalog has something for your entire family, including alpaca clothing, rugs, yarn, jewelry, toys, and other wares at great prices. Gift certificates are also available. New items and special sales happen all the time, so check with them often. Sign up for their free newsletter to learn more about the joys of alpaca!
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