Knitting with alpaca yarn – How it feels and what to knit with it

Everything you need to know about the fiber, how to knit with alpaca yarn, and helpful tips.

I have a confession to make: I’m an incredibly sensitive person and I can’t stand the (perceived) itchiness of standard wool. And in all my years of knitting, one fiber became my favorite alternative. So, this post is all about knitting with alpaca yarn and why I like it so much.

colorful skeins of alpaca knitting yarn on a board with needles

Setting allergies and sensitivity aside, alpaca yarn has a lot of amazing properties that make it a worthy fiber to knit with either way. So, I’ll talk you through all the advantages of the South American yarn but I won’t keep the few disadvantages from you either. I will also try to do away with quite a couple of myths that have been floating around the internet for the longest time.

I’ll start with a general introduction of this amazing fiber and its properties, and then we’ll dive into the knitting specifics. This will be a very long post that really goes down into the (k)nitty-gritty. Feel free to scroll down if you just want a specific question answered.

Let’s dive right into it, eh?

Note: I spiced up this post with lots of pictures from my trips to South America, I hope you enjoy them.


alpaca grazing on the altiplano in peru on the train from cusco to puno
Alpacas on their pasture on Peru’s Altiplano

Alpacas are basically a smaller and fluffier version of the lama. Both are members of the camelids (on that note, read my post about camel hair yarn) but the coat of the alpaca is much thicker and finer.

While lamas have always been used as beasts of burden in the Andean regions, alpacas have been bred to improve the characteristics of their luxurious fleece (and to a lesser extent for their meat) for over 5,000 years in the Andean highlands by the Inca and their predecessors.

Called “The fiber of the gods“, Alpaca yarn was used to weave the clothing of the Inca royalty. The animals are shorn once a year in spring. Typically, no extensive pre-sorting or combining is required (like with yak yarn or cashmere), though parts (or all) of the guard hair are removed during the carding process.

a suri alpaca in peru near cusco with very long coat
A typical Suri alpaca

You should also be aware that there are two types of breeds: Suri alpaca with a very long dreadlock kind of coat that can be kept at lower altitudes and warmer climates. And the more common Huacaya alpaca (with shorter hair and a poodle-like appearance) you will see all across the Altiplano at altitudes of 4,000 meters and above. Both are believed to be descendants of the wild and much, much rarer Vicuña.

a huacaya alpaca in peru near lake titcaca
A typical huacaya alpaca

1. Soft and lightweight

High-quality alpaca yarn is very soft. Much softer than normal sheep wool. Depending on the age and breed, the fibers of the processed fleece range between 15 and 30 microns in diameter. That’s a very wide range and is an important reminder of why knitters should invest in quality over quantity.

macro shot of natural undyed alpaca yarn
Close-up shot of natural undyed white alpaca yarn (dk)

Still, I always try to remind people that the physical thinness of a fiber should not be confused with the perceived softness of a ball of yarn or the finished product. Alpaca yarn is incredibly light-weighted. It almost feels like it has some kind of innate buoyancy like the garment was hovering over your body, and this effect makes it feel much softer.

Contrary to what you might read in some reports online, the yarn isn’t physically much lighter than sheep yarn (something you can easily confirm yourself by looking at the yardage of two 50 gram balls of DK yarn).

The main difference between sheep wool and alpaca is how far the cuticle cells protrude. If you look at a single hair under a microscope, you will see that the outer layer looks scaled. And in sheep wool, these scales typically protrude around 0.8 to 1.0 microns, while in alpaca yarn, it’s only approximately 0.3 – 0.4 of a micron (source).

Thus, alpaca yarn feels a lot smoother and doesn’t prickle the skin as much. Another factor here is the spinning method. Alpaca is often spun at a much slower speed and thus less of the broader fibers are thrown on the outside (think of it as a centrifuge).

2. Excellent insulation properties

The fibers have hollow cores and this creates thousands of microscopic air pockets – the perfect insulation for the harsh winters (and nights) on the Peruvian altiplano. And this fine fleece works the other way around during warmer days where the alpaca yarn shows good breathability.

Now, I’ve read some reports saying this makes it a nice yarn for summer knits. I would like to contest that view, but I’ll talk about this a bit further down below. Suffice to say that only the thicker fibers (above 20 microns actually) are hallow. Below this size, they are quite solid and with that, all perceived advantages of that special build vanish. Contrary to what some people will claim, neither ceratin nor air conducts heat very well.

macro shot of a single alpaca yarn thread
High resolution image of alpaca yarn

Often, alpaca fibers are spun in a much airier (slower) way. Together with the low crimp, this creates a puffier yarn that often develops a halo. And this, and no so much the actual properties are probably responsible for the perceived warmness and lightness of the yarn. This is not to say the yarn doesn’t have lovely insulation properties. It’s just saying that in and by itself it is NOT warmer than sheep wool.

3. Alpaca yarn is incredibly strong, or is it?

One quite surprising fact about alpaca yarn is its sturdiness. In fact, you will read about it around every corner. It is even often repeated that it is 7 times stronger than sheep wool, usually followed by some archeological evidence of 2,000-year-old fabric found in Peruvian tombs. These people seem to forget that the Paracas Textiles, etc. were discovered in an excellent conservatory environment where it never rains.

Now, beyond the anecdotal myth-making, I could not find any hard evidence to support that claim. One study suggests that there is indeed a difference, but we are talking about a single-digit difference. This is to be expected of fibers that basically share the same general physical traits (as opposed to say linen or cotton). The experiments did show, however, that alpaca is quite a bit more resilient to wear & tear.

comparing the crimp of alpaca with sheep wool - a macro shot
Shetland wool (left) and alpaca fibers (right)

Nevertheless, it is important to understand that the durability of knitting yarn is by and large determined by the spinning, the crimp, and the staple length. And here it has to be said that sheep wool is quite a bit more versatile. Still, alpaca has a really nice staple length of 3-7 inches and allows for spinning lovely light DK and worsted yarn and also some higher twist socks and even lace yarns.

You will have a hard time tearing a strand of good quality yarn apart with your hand. And, for all practical reasons, that’s all knitters should care about.

4. It’s Water-Absorbant

Apparently, some people maintain that alpaca yarn was water-resistant and would somehow magically wick away moisture. I am not sure who started this myth but it really needs to disappear. Dipping your yarn into a glass of water should be evidence enough.

It is, however, true that alpaca can absorb up to 30 percent of its own dry weight until the wearer feels it. In this, it behaves pretty much like wool and this is certainly a really lovely characteristic.

5. THere are Over 22 natural colors

different natural colors of alpaca yarn - undyed skeins

One of the main advantages of alpaca yarn, in my opinion, is the wide array of natural colors and shades. You can find anything from a pure, almost white, cream color up to a dark chestnut kind of dark brown, grey, and even black. So if you love undyed natural yarns, then you probably won’t find a more suitable fiber.

Using the light natural tones as a base, you can achieve pretty pastel colors, while darker rich deep hues are easily achieved by dyeing the greyer bases. It pretty much behaves like sheep wool in that regard, though most commercially available yarn will stick to a more natural-looking color range.

6. It’s very Sustainable

alpaca yarn i bought from a local farm and a specific animal
Alpaca yarn from a specific animal I bought at a local farm

Alpaca yarn can be produced quite sustainably. The herds can graze in regions where agriculture is not possible anymore. Their soft hooves are kind to the landscape and their grazing methods do not overly tax their large pastures either.

So, far so good. These days, alpacas are increasingly also held in Europe, the USA, and even Australia where these principles may not apply anymore. Instead of close to free-range, they are penned up, etc. Plus, you do have to consider that the shearing process is very stressful for the animals.

Alpaca may seem fluffy, and you frequently will see tourists petting them but the reality is that the animals actually hate being touched. Unlike many other mammals, their natural behavior does not involve any regular physical contact at all. Not even the mother will lick its young. Touching each other is not part of their behavior. Due to the many natural predators in the region, they are also very easy to scare.

Of course, they are also a domesticated breed, and they do need to be shorn. Unlike their vincuna-ancestors, they don’t lose their winter coat anymore. So, what I am trying to say is that you need to look closer. Ethical farming also means harvesting the fibers with the well-being of the animals in mind. It will always be very stressful for them, but they do not need to be hurt in the process either, eh?

7. Hypoallergenic

Alpaca yarn is supposedly hypoallergenic because the animals don’t produce any lanolin/grease. And that is completely wrong. Alpaca is not lanolin free! Like almost every other mammal, their follicles have wax glands – they just produce much less of it than sheep. If you dig your hands deep into the coat of a sheep before shearing, your hands will come out quite a bit greasy.

The same will not happen with huacaya alpaca (with only about 1-3 percent of grease on average). The fleece of Suri alpaca can have up to 20%, though!

As a matter of fact, both sheep and alpaca fleece is scoured clean before spinning (though you will need less water & detergents in the case of the latter). That being said, I did already mention the much smoother surface of the fibers and I’ve read some research that hinted that this could possibly be a reason why some people show less of a reaction.

8. Considerably affordable

In recent years, alpaca farms started popping up like mushrooms after a summer rain all over North America and central Europe. As a result, alpaca yarn became one of the most affordable luxury fibers currently available to knitters. Speaking from personal experience, the premium (compared to a ball of good merino wool) is often only in the range of 20 to 30 percent.

This is not to say it’s inexpensive or the best knitting yarn for beginners – far from it in fact. But it’s not as outrageously expensive as quite a lot of other luxury yarn and I feel an affordable alternative for a special project.

Important: One very important thing you should know. Alpaca is a very wide field and there’s a big difference between a huacaya animal raised on 4.000+ meters near Cusco and the average Suri alpaca from Nebraska. So, all general information about this amazing fiber should always be viewed as a range of characteristics and not so much as a set that applies in every instance.

Reading tip: The 10 most expensive yarn in the world

Knitting qualities

knitting with alpaca yarn on a table with different skeins and tools

Alpaca shows a moderately good stitch definition. It’s probably not the best idea for intense knitting stitch patterns that benefit from crisp stitches. Voluminous stitches, like brioche stitch, can be a fabulous and very warm option, in my opinion.

cable stitch swatch knitted with alpaca yarn in rich brown color
A swatch with a cable stitch

One factor is certainly also the finer awn hairs that resist the dye a bit – so you rarely get a 100% solid color – except it’s baby alpaca yarn (see below). Plus, these (still very fine) hairs will stand out a bit like (soft!!) bristles.

close-up of a alpaca yarn showing how the awn hair take color differently
Can you spot the awn hair sticking out of this hank?

On top of that, you need to consider that your finished project will develop quite a halo after washing (or even before), so you will have a harder time making intricate design elements pop. That being said, it can still look very interesting and cozy, and there are certainly quite a lot of patterns that use exactly this to great effect.

before and after washing and blocking a swatch of alpaca yarn. it got slightly bigger and fuzzier
A swatch before and after washing

On a more positive note, this makes it quite a good choice for colorwork techniques (like intarsia) where all the fuzziness hides joins, and floats. The floats of Fair Isle will be able to add structural support to the otherwise stretchy fiber.

a traditional peruvian hat knitted with alpaca yarn in different colors
A traditional Peruvian hat knit with alpaca yarn

Alpaca will eventually felt (but not nearly as good sheep wool) but pilling and shedding can be a problem. Usually, alpaca produce quite the uniform staples. But low-quality yarn will have a wide mix of fiber lengths and those behave differently. Through normal wear & tear the shorter (or broken) fibers will migrate out of the twist and will eventually be released. This process is typically called shedding or pilling and can be avoided to a certain extent by finding a trusted yarn producer.

macro shot of the natural halo of alpaca yarn as seen on a swatch after washing

Due to the fact that a lot of alpaca yarn is only lightly spun, it can often be a bit harder to get neat and uniform ribbings and the like.

Best things to knit with alpaca yarn

a group of peruvian women knitting with alpaca yarn and two alpaca in the background
Two women in Cusco knitting during a break

There is one question that seems to surface quite often: “What to knit with alpaca yarn”? And I guess it boils down to the fact that a lot of knitters receive a skein or two as a gift or just had to buy a particularly beautiful hank from their local yarn shop.

Now, let’s talk about knitting with this fiber, and what you need to be aware of. Most commercially available alpaca knitting yarn is somewhere in between DK and light-worsted. So, that’s needle sizes 3-5mm. This makes it perfect for shawls, tunics, hats, and those kinds of patterns. Here on my blog, there is also a pattern from some really simple fingerless gloves for beginners.

But there is a caveat: I already mentioned spinning methods. Now, obviously, this is a generalization and you will find exceptions in both directions. But as a rule of thumb, knitting with alpaca results in a very drapey and somewhat loose fabric (the crimp of the fiber, or often the lack thereof, also plays an important role here).

As a start, this means you probably should go down a full needle size compared to what you would normally use if you want to get the same kind of gauge/drape you are used to when knitting with merino yarn. But that might actually be the wrong approach. In fact, it should be worth considering going UP with your needle size to enhance the drapey effect.

As a general rule, I would stay away from tailored patterns (like a seamed sweater) and rather pick something slouchy with a more casual fit – like a tunic. Then it will look quite stunning. Or you pick an alpaca blend.

And then, of course, you need to consider, the warmth of alpaca. Due to the numerous characteristics the spun yarn shows, knitted alpaca fabric will feel incredibly warm. Depending on how cold (or warm) your winter is, you definitely should consider picking a lighter yarn than you usually would. Instead of an Aran weight, a sport weight, etc or a nice blend.

And I really wouldn’t consider knitting any summer apparel with it. A nice drapey shawl for a cool summer evening could be an option, but the idea of a light summer t-shirt in alpaca is quite preposterous in my opinion. Due to its breathability and ability to retain moisture, it’s certainly not the worst idea but it will still be very warm.

Linen, silk, or cotton are probably the much better idea nevertheless. All recommendations I found for alpaca as a summer yarn were based on the (false) fact that the fine fibers were hollow.

How to knit with alpaca yarn

a man near lake titicaca sitting on a rock knitting a hat
A man on Taquille Island in Peru knitting a hat

Now, there are a couple of tips for knitting with alpaca yarn I need to share with you. 100% pure alpaca can be a very lovely yarn but it’s certainly not like your standard sock yarn which you could possibly use to knit anything.

1. Factor in the stretchiness

Most fitted garments knit with alpaca yarn will stretch out quite a bit after the first wear. Knitting a good swatch, washing it, and blocking it hanging with a bit of weight is the only way to find out if knitting a sweater or hat with that specific yarn is a good idea or not.

Please bear in mind that you will be able to adjust to a certain extent but stretched stitches will look and behave quite differently as well. So, be very cautious.

2. There is no memory effect

A woolen sweater may stretch out a bit as you wear it over the day. But wash it and it will spring right back. That’s because most sheep breeds produce fibers with quite a lot of crimp. Most (but certainly not all) alpaca breeds don’t show a lot of crimp and thus that sweater will not spring back.

The only way to truly fight that is using blends or knitting with two strands held together (like a nice merino lace yarn, etc).

3. Avoid creating dense areas

And on that note, you should also try to avoid creating fabrics that feature significantly different characteristics in different portions like a cable pattern in the middle and lace on the sides. Imbalances like these are bound to encourage parts of your finished project to stretch out differently.

Other than that, there’s not much else you need to observe when knitting with alpaca yarn. For all practical reasons, the difference to other common yarns is not all that noticeable anyway if you are buying quality products. It will feel incredibly soft and lovely on your hand.

I will have to say, however, that much of the difference will only be visible after the first washing/wearing. And hence I would be careful to judge an alpaca yarn based on knitting 10 rows with it.

How to wash alpaca wool

hand washing a swatch of alpaca yarn in warm water and mild soap

Generally speaking, knitted alpaca products need to be cared for in the same way as most other knitted fabrics to ensure a long life:

  1. Wash gently in warm water using a mild (liquid) wool detergent or soap and then rinse thoroughly. Avoid intense rubbing, wringing, twisting, or fast changes in temperature to prevent the fabric from felting.
  2. Support the fabric carefully when removing it from your tub/sink (especially if it’s a throw or sweater). Wet fabric can be quite heavy and this could stretch out the item beyond repair. Instead, ease it down on a towel, bring it back into shape, and roll it up to press out the excess water. You may want to do this twice.
  3. Then lay it on a flat surface until thoroughly dry.
  4. Don’t put sweaters, etc. on a hanger. Instead lay them flat in a drawer so they don’t get stretched out of shape.

If you observe these rules, you will find out that alpaca yarn is washable and will be able to last a long time.

Can you wash alpaca wool in the washing machine?

Some modern washing machines have special programs for really sensitive wool fabrics and adjustable settings without intense tumble drying or an outright drying function. But even if you set the temperature to cold and the spin is low, I personally cannot recommend it – except it’s a blended yarn. On a more positive, most alpaca wool will not shrink a lot (the way sheep wool does). In fact, you are more likely to stretch it out.

What is baby alpaca yarn?

me feeding baby alpaca in peru near ollantaytambo
Me feeding some baby alpaca

Baby alpaca yarn is used to classify particularly fine fibers with a diameter of 19-20 microns and has little to do with the age of the animal that was shorn. Strictly speaking, it says nothing about the age of the animal that produced the fibers – only about its diameter. Typically the much coarser awn hairs have been sorted out. It’s basically the pure fine hair of the undercoat. Any close-up picture will instantly show you the difference.

As a result, baby alpaca is both softer and usually quite a bit more expensive. That being said, the hairs of the adult animals grow thicker as years go by (they share that trait with cashmere goats and their undercoat). This is called the balloon effect.

difference between baby alpaca and superfine alpaca yarn as shown with two different skeins
Superfine alpaca (left) and baby alpaca (right)

The absolute number of follicles doesn’t change but as the skin stretches with maturity, they are able to produce thicker hair. Alpaca yarn with a diameter of 18 microns or below is called “Royal Alpaca” (or sometimes super baby alpaca), while beyond 21 you’ll read “superfine alpaca yarn”.

So, this was my guide to knitting with alpaca yarn. Comment below in case you have any questions.

knitting with alpaca yarn - everything you need to know

51 thoughts on “Knitting with alpaca yarn – How it feels and what to knit with it”

  1. Do you recommend using alpaca for socks? I have several skeins that are DK weight. If add twist using my wheel would it be more likely to resist wear on the heel and ball of the foot? Or should I add a ply of regular wool sock yarn on those high wear areas?

    By the way, I love your website, all of it.
    Thanks in advance
    Connie Byrne

    • Hey Connie,

      happy to hear you love my website. As for using aplaca yarn for socks. There is some amazing alpaca sock yarn and I have no way of knowing if your DK weights is or is not suitable. Usually, the DK yarn is not spun in a way to really support socks.
      So it will be taking risks – and i would definitely play it safe and use regular yarn (or a thin nylon thread held together) for heel & toes.

  2. I absolutely love alpaca, but I do find it to be itchy.
    I did find one years ago that I did not have a problem with.
    Of course, I have no idea of the brand or type this was. and have
    gone through many failures in the attempt to find one again.
    If you have any suggestions I would be most grateful.
    Best regards

    • Hey Lisa,
      I think you should try to go for baby alpaca or royal alpaca kind of qualities. So, the itchy part is probably caused by the guard hairs that are much more common in “coarser” qualities. As a brand, I love Pascuali.

  3. I would love to knit a sweater for my son, but not sure where to find a pattern, do you know where I can find sweater patterns that use Alpaca?

  4. Is there another fiber I can knit with (?Kremke) that will decrease the stretching of the garment?
    I knit a sweater and after blocking it has stretched significantly (especially the sleeves) that I will have to ‘frog’ it and start over.
    I am also wanting to knit a throw with alpaca (royal). This time when I block the swatch I will also add weight to see how much stretch I get but I was wondering if I added something, even like cotton thread, would it help limit the stretch?

    • Hey Peggy,
      sure, you can always knit with two strands held together. However, I couldn’t possibly say which fiber as it really depends a lot on the way the yarn was spun and processed. So, actually, you would have to knit a swatch and test things yourself.

  5. Grüß Gott, Norman, (I once lived in Munich for a while!), I have just discovered your website which I love browsing through. I learned to knit when I was about five years old and am now 74, but I have picked up so many useful tips from your website.

    I am currently knitting my second cardigan in a mix of 70% Falkland Island wool and 30% English alpaca. It is delightful to work with and after blocking, the pieces become so supple and slinky in my hand. It feels really comfortable to wear so I can endorse your enthusiasm. Before using it, I had never heard of wool having a halo. Lovely expression.

    Many thanks.

  6. This is such an interesting article, thank you. You mentioned knitting with two strands held together to reduce the stretching. Are you suggesting two strands of the same yarn, or adding a mohair yarn (for instance) as the second strand? Many thanks.

    • Hm…i thought I made that clear with the half-sentence in parentheses. Yes, adding a different yarn to the mix. Two strands held together won’t help you a lot there.

  7. Hello Norman, I completed a cable sweater with Berroco Ultra Alpaca that has Yarn Fiber 50% Super Fine Alpaca, 50% Peruvian Wool. Gorgeous feel. But after careful wash it bloomed out to 1 and 1/2 size too big. Not sure how to bring it back to size. Hot water >40 C or drying. I am scared to create felting. Help!

    • There’s sadly not a lot you can do at this point and that’S why you should wash your swatches before you measure them. Chances are that it will get even bigger as you wore it the first time.
      So, quite frankly you can either frog it and knit it a bit smaller or try put it in the dryer and see what happens. If you still got some spare yarn, you could knit a little swatch and see what happens.

      • Norman,
        I really enjoy your videos and website.
        I just finished a cardigan and pullover sweaters with wool alpaca mix. I washed them in the sink and laid them out to dry very carefully. I didn’t have any problems at all. I hope that I won’t have issues in the future. Thank you for the information. I will make sure I am extra careful with things made with some alpaca.
        I think the alpaca, wool combination is just beautiful, soft and warm.

  8. Good morning Norman

    I found a shawl pattern with garter and lace sections recommending size 8 needle with fingering weight yarn, however I want to knit it with Malabrigo Silkpaca yarn.

    I gave up swatching years ago as the sample NEVER matched my finished project.

    I found your blog (very well researched) looking for an image of alpaca silk yarn swatch on size 8 and perhaps size 3 needles to see the difference.

    Your thoughts?

    Thank you Ronnie-Illinois

  9. Hi: I am contemplating knitting a bed blanket of alpaca for my husband, who has Parkinson’s and often feels chilly. I am wondering then if I should add a strand of merino wool to help stabilize it. I have seen knitter blogs where smaller blocks of knitting (alpaca) are then sewn together upon completion–like a patchwork quilt? Any thoughts on this?

    • I guess it depends on the yarn. I remember that my dad bought a couple of alpaca blankets the last time we were in Peru and they held up decently. The biggest issue I would personally see is that alpaca often stretches out after washing. And with a huge blanket, that can be quite an endeavor to do and (dry). As for knitting with two strands held together..why not go for a blend straight away?

  10. Hello: I’m knitting a hat with a 65% Alpaca / 35% Wool content. I’m actually swatching first because it’s my first time knitting with this fiber. Right away I noticed some of the characteristics you mention in your article (which is fantastic by the way!). My tension is usually on the tighter side so I swatched with two different needle sizes. The fabric I produce definitely feels lighter and looser than a SW wool. It doesn’t seem to have a lot a spring back after it is stretched. In your opinion, is it better to knit Alpaca with bamboo/wood needles vs metal needles? I swatched with metal needles and found the yarn slippery and a little challenging to tighten up. Thanks!

    • Well, i don’t really have an opinion there because I only knit with slick metal needles (only use wooden needles for tutorials, etc) or the Karbonz needles (which I love).
      But if it feels too slippery with you, I’d really take this as an indication that you need needles with a little bit more friction.

  11. Hello! Have you ever worked with Alpaka 100 Superfine from Kremke Soul Wool? It is 100% alpaka, 366m/100g. If so, can you share your experience?
    Thank you

  12. Hello

    My sister-in-law is raising alpaca. She has spent a lot of money to have the fleece processed into yarn with 5% nylon added. She is has no fiber experience. Because I am a knitter, she has generously given me bags and bags of yarn. But the yarn is SO scratchy, I don’t know what to do with it. Is it possible to change the yarn at this point?

    Also, where did she go wrong? Adding nylon should help it to hold its shape, right? I wouldn’t think that would make the fibers scratchy. Is it how it was processed? Is there something she could do differently next time?

    Appreciate your input!


    • Difficult to say but I would say that she didn’t remove the guard hair and those will be scratchy. As it sounds like it was already carded, I am not sure there’s a way to do that still.
      Also, the older the alpaca, the thicker the hairs will be – and of course, different regions of the body also have different hair quality.

  13. Well, that was very interesting indeed. 👍🏼 Thank you. I love all the outdoor pictures. 🙂
    I’m considering adding a DK wt commercial (Drops) alpaca yarn to a DK 100% wool in order to make a warm beanie for my son to wear under his hardhat as he works outdoors in northern BC, Canada (brr). Am I on the right track? Thanks in advance.


    • that sounds like a good plan. typically alpaca alone doesn’t create a dense enough fabric (less stability and tiny little holes between the stitches).
      (note I don’t know the individual fibers you are using, this is just a general comment).

  14. Hello Norman,
    I’m going to knit a cowl with Debbie Bliss alpaca silk. I believe it to be Aran and not DK.
    I’ll look for Knitter’s Pride cables size 7/8 US for the job. I want a loose cowl that drapes. How long should the cable be?
    Thanks as always for your tutorials on YouTube. You are the best in my opinion.
    Merry Christmas 🎄,

    • I cannot help you with that Marion. Sorry. I don’t know anything about the circumference you are aiming for, your gauge, etc, etc.

  15. Thank you for this very informative post—I’d heard a lot of conflicting info about alpaca, and you addressed all of it in an easy-to-understand way. I also love your videos as a newer knitter—my young son will often see me on my phone and say, “Are you watching Norman again?” 😂 Thank you for your great work putting out excellent information!

  16. Thank you for this post, this has been really helpful, as always. I do have a couple of questions for you if you don’t mind. I love the colors of the undyed yarns, and I think I will enjoy having a sweater made of alpaca (texture!). My idea was a very basic all stockinette raglan (?) with maybe a cowl neck or something. Extremely simple construction, let the yarn do the talking, kind of sweater. I don’t think I will mind too much if that style sweater looses shape a little with wear. Pascuali has a line of undyed 100% alpaca yarn in bulky weight that looks beautiful. You’ve said that due to the lack of memory the stitches can stretch out with wear. Does the larger stitch size of bulky yarn help or hurt this effect? Also, does the fabric tend to stretch out width-wise, length-wise, or both over time? I’ll swatch & wash & block with weights to determine my sizing gauge, but I mean over years of wearing it, how does alpaca knit fabric tend to stretch? I’ll try to allow for that expectation when sizing my knitting.
    Thank you again for this informative post, Laura

    • well I would say the bulkier your yarn the heavier it is and the more pronounced this effect will be. Pascuali has, very high quality standards in my experience…but well…still I kind of would be careful with a sweater and would construct it in a way that you don’t end up/expect something figure hugging. mOre like a tunic or caridgan that’s meant to be a bit looser and then I think it can be stellar.

  17. This is so informative but doesn’t mention that Suri Alpaca is a much heavier fibre and I have found it stretches more than Huacaya. I only use Suri for making lace scarves, shawls, wraps & baby shawls. It didn’t shrink when I tried felting it and it was VERY difficult to felt. It is so different to Huacaya fibre.
    It does take dye really well and brings out the lustre. I love spinning it end up with beautiful lustrous yarn.

  18. I have a question….I just completed a small throw blanket with baby alpaca yarn. It has three different colors. I have tried EVERY way to weave, join, knot each color smoothly into the blanket but the end keep slipping out regardless of what I do. Do you have any suggestion to keep the loose ends from slipping out. I have fuzzy little ends popping out all over. So frustrated and worried that I will just have to abandon the blanket that was meant for a gift.

    • The very ends (the last say 5mm) will always popp out. that’s why I personally cut my tails with a little margin. Other than glue or sewing over, I don’t think there is a way to avoid that (well felting works as well).

  19. I recently bought a bunch of huarizo alpaca yarn cone labeled worsted/bulky as I intend to knit beanies. However, upon knitting I noticed that it doesn’t have a very nice stitch definition at all. I love the feel of it but I do not like the look of the finished product. People buy what they see as beautiful/neat looking. I tried different stitches and different needle sizes and still not satisfied. Any further advice is much appreciated!


  20. Hi Norman,
    Thanks for your expertise. I understand that alpaca yarn, merino, and cashmere will develop a halo after washing- is that correct? I do love the effect of a gentle halo and am trying to choose my yarn carefully for my next scarf project.

    • That is not universally true. It will depend on the length of the fibers (= read quality of the wool) and the spinning method. Merino wool typically doesn’t create a halo, alpaca may, and with cashmere it’s very common – especially with the more affordable yarns.

  21. Hi Norman 🙂
    I’ve been presented with a very nice vintage alpaca blend yarn and as I’m swatching I decided to look for information about this fiber… and I KNEW I would find a lot of useful information on your website! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. You’re a treasure.

  22. I bought the most wonderful feeling 100% baby alpaca yarn and made a lovely stretchy ribbed hat. Unfortunately, as you point out, it stretches out but doesn’t spring back. I don’t want to give up on the hat. Would a strand of silk/mohair solve the issue? On the one hand, it seems like it would keep it from stretching too much, on the other hand, it also doesn’t have the “crimp” of wool so not a lot of bounce back. I don’t want the yarn I carry to be especially visible. I welcome advice.

    • Well, what you could do is use that hat as a liner for a hat that is twice as warm. So, undo the cast-on, pick up the stitches, and then knit another hat in the other direction.
      Other than that, you’d probably have to unravel and use a second yarn as a base. If your silk/mohair is a godo choice..i dunno.

      • Thank you- I’m willing to redo from scratch, but I don’t want the second version to end up exactly like the first. It’s worth a try, anyway. Maybe I will check back in with an update. Happy New Year.

  23. Thank you Norman. Wish I found this before Christmas!

    My family and I visited Peru in 2016 and all fell in love with alpaca wool. I recently learned to crochet and decided to make something in alpaca for everyone for Christmas.

    I crocheted scarves and hats for everyone, plus wrist warmers for my daughter, all in 100% baby alpaca, some were mixed baby alpaca and silk.

    I am a beginner, so there was quite a bit of frogging until I had the right hook size and stitch, not to mention mistakes. I didn’t follow a pattern, but figured out how to make a great hat all on my own.

    Everyone loved their finished products, but now I’m wondering if the hats will last the winter! Maybe I can ‘fix’ them over the summer by weaving in, some sort of way, some elastic stitching? 🤦🏻‍♀️If I add it in the rim of the hats? Silly idea?

    Beginners mistakes. I have lots of them. 😆 I started one year ago, and seem to try and reinvent the wheel over and over again!! Lol. I create my own patterns, only to find them already created on YouTube after the fact.

    Learning is truly fun and although your content is mostly knitting I watch you alot. Right from the beginning I’ve stored my yarns properly because of you.

    Thank you for all your content and wise advice!

    A big fan!
    //Julie from Sweden

    • Hi Julie!

      How hard-wearing the items will be depends in part on the qualities of the yarn, sometimes even more so than the fact that you used alpaca. The real problem is that alpaca stretches a lot and doesn’t really bounce back when washed, the way wool does. Scarves can stretch all over the place and people won’t find that to be a problem, so those should all be just fine. The hats and wrist warmers might stretch a bit too much over time, and after this winter you may want to think about either remaking them holding the alpaca yarn with a yarn that bounces back better, or you may want to try and shrink them a little by felting them.

      I would leave the hats and scarves and wrist warmers just as they are, as you will almost certainly end up making another round of them next year with the improved techniques you’ve learned this year, and these ones will eventually be retired if they stretch out past the sizes you originally intended them to be. I made a lot of projects when I was just learning that people don’t still use and that’s ok. They appreciated the gift and used it while it was useable, and I learned a lot and the next things I made for them were better for it.

      If you like inventing patterns then keep doing it! it doesn’t matter if someone else has already invented the same thing, great minds think alike. If you’d prefer to use a pattern someone else has already written up then you might want to check out ravelry, as it has lots of information gathered together about a lot of different patterns, and allows you to search things like all the crochet patterns in Swedish that are free. My wife also recently started to crochet and she likes looking through patterns that are there if only to get ideas of what she wants to invent next.

      Have fun!

  24. Hello

    I loved reading this article which all this in depth knowledge, it’s fascinating!

    I’ve made a project use a fish net style crochet, but now I’m coming to unravel a few rows it keeps getting stuck. It’s an black dyed alpaca wool, thin enough for a size 3mm hook.

    Is this normal for alpaca? Am I doing something wrong? I’m just gently pulling the thread like you would normally? At this rate I am going to just use it as a test square and wash and dry it!

    Thanks :)!

    • Some people say it helps them to put in in a freezer before unravelling. That’s typically a good tip for unraveling fuzzy yarns


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