What makes excellent fiber?
Two things: Fineness and crimp. My goal is to breed alpacas with the fineness of cashmere and the crimp of merino.  Fineness is measured in Microns and finer fiber has a smaller micron count.  As an example, human hair can have a micron count of 40-80+ while most cashmere is in the 15-19 micron range.  Alpaca fiber can range from 15 -40 microns with younger animals having the finest fiber.  The Peruvian standard for alpaca grades is listed below:

Alpaca Fiber             Micron Count
Royal                            < 20
Baby                             21-23
Superfine                    24-26

Each shearing season, we take samples of our fibers from shorn fleeces and send them to two different testing labs to check the micron count and the crimp of the fleeces.  Thus, we know for breeding and spinning purposes exactly the character of each alpaca fleece.  Most of the yarn I make comes from alpacas whose fleece has a “royal” or <20 micron count -- the same as cashmere.

Crimp means zigzags.  It gives alpaca, wool or any animal fiber greater elasticity which helps the knitted garment spring back into shape after wearing.  The fiber testing labs measure the fleece samples to get a crimps per inch measurement.  Merino and cormo wool set the standard for crimps per inch and can be found in micron counts similar to “baby” alpaca.

At Valhalla Farms we consider the different micron count of each fleece before deciding whether to blend it and what to blend it with upon spinning.  I love to use 100% “Royal” alpaca spun fine for scarves, shawls or even heirloom baby blankets.  Sometimes I will add some silk to increase the sheen and luster of the resulting yarn.

I like to blend superfine merino or cormo wool with my alpaca to produce yarn that works well for sweaters or other wearable garments that benefit from resilient yarn. I search all over the country to find the finest merino and cormo fleeces that will have a similar micron count to my alpaca from breeders who breed for fineness and cover their animals‘ fleeces so they can be processed without harsh chemicals. 

Another benefit of these fiber combinations is that when dyed, they take up color with more depth and nuance.  Sort of like the difference when you dye hair with just one color giving you an even, uniform look versus different, layered shades of highlights and lowlights.  With the blends you can achieve colors that are multi-dimensional and more sophisticated. 

Most of my yarns are spun to a sport weight or finer.  This is because alpaca is 7 times the warmth of wool!!!  It is a hollow fiber which means it retains  more heat than wool.  Another benefit with our sport and fingering weight yarns is that less bulk makes you look....less bulky!  It complements most figures and and wears better and longer.

And finally, Valhalla Farms award-winning yarns are heavenly to knit with!  They feel smooth and silky soft running through your fingers.  So do yourself and loved ones a favor, try Valhalla Farms award-winning yarns a discover heavenly soft fibers.
Valhalla Farms Alpacas
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