Surilox Alpacas

Alpaca Fleece is known as Fibre of the Gods.
It was reserved for the Inca nobility and royal family, who were descendents of the divine spirits.
The fleece is widely acknowledged as one of the most luxurious natural fibres. The fibre is resilient, soft, warm and extremely light weight.
In linear tensile strength Alpaca fleece is almost as strong as Silk, but unlike silk is also strong in cross-section. This means that unlike silk, alpaca can be used in long-wearing and resilient textile such as carpets.
An individual shaft of alpaca fibre has scales that lie almost parallel to the shaft of the fibre itself. This makes alpaca a comfortable fibre to wear, with a very high comfort factor. So unlike sheep wool, alpaca will rarely itch. It also has the advantage of being hypoallergenic.
Additionally Alpaca is flame resistant and will not burn unless it comes in direct and sustained contact with a naked flame.
It tends to have low levels of absorption of ambient humidity
Spinners, Weavers and knitters delight in using alpaca. Alpaca slivers and yarns, when made from good quality fleece have a glossy lustre, and a cool slippery feel.
Alpaca comes in all natural colours. It is not unusual to see alpaca herds with many different coloured alpacas grazing the paddocks.
Traditionally Alpaca fibre is classed as follows:
Royal Alpaca - is fibre that is under 19 microns
Baby Alpaca is 20  to 25 microns
Alpaca is 25 microns to 29 microns

A Micron is 1 millionth of a metre.

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For comparison
Human Hair
Cashmere
Kid mohair
Mohair

approx. 50 microns
15 - 19 microns
24 - 26 microns
24 - 36 microns

Merino
Camel
Silk
Linen
Cotton

14 - 22+microns
18 - 26 microns
11 - 20 microns
15 - 18 microns
15-20 microns

Fibre Testing and Analysis

Fibre Testing & What it means
There are several fibre testing facilities in Australia. Generally a sample will be taken during shearing, from the mid-side of an alpaca. Many alpaca breeders take their samples from several points on the mid side to get as accurate an analysis as possible. A Fibre Analysis will be returned with the following information:
Mean Micron
A micron is the unit of measurement of the diameter of the fibre. A micron is a millionth of a metre or, if you like, a thousandth of a millimetre. The lower the mean micron the finer the fibre.
Comfort Factor
is the measurement of softness and texture. Technically, the measurement is the percentage of fibre below 30 microns. This is generally an indication of the angle of the scales on a shaft of fibre. A comfort factor of 100% tells us that the fibres scales lie parallel to the shaft of the fibre. There will be no scratchiness or itching in this fibre. CF is also a count of those scales or barbs. All fleece has small barbs along the shaft of the fibre. The more barbs the lower the comfort factor & the more likely wool is to scratch your skin. Sheep wool has many barbs which is why it is often uncomfortable to wear next to the skin.
Alpaca fleece has almost no barbs. If you are buying alpaca to spin for garments always choose a high comfort factor.
Standard Deviation of Micron or SD
The fibre tests are done on around 2000 or so fibres. There is always some variation of micron in the fibre sample. The standard deviation tells you +/- how many microns 68% of fibres deviate from the mean. eg micron 20 SD 2.1 The average diameter is 20 microns but most are with a diameter between 17.9 microns and 22.1 microns. A micron is an incredibly small measurement & an SD of 5 or less can hardly be felt & makes really very little difference to the quality of the fibre.
CV or Coefficient of Variance
This is also known as diameter distribution. It is a measurement that tells you about the micron consistency in the fleece ie 18% of the fibres in the sample were more or less than the average Micron
Fibre curvature (degrees/mm)
Fibre curvature is a primary measure of the frequency of the crimp of the fibres within a Huacaya fleece and the spiral of the lock in the Suri.

You can download this information as a Surilox Fact Sheet from our articles page.