Ideas for alpaca


My guild has been asked to demonstrate fiber arts at the Kentucky Alpaca Association Festival in October.  I volunteered to demo the RHL.  I was given three 200 yard skeins: one worsted, one bulky, and one sport weight.  I figure I'll make a scarf, but would love input on how to best weave with three different weights of yarn in a way to show off these natural alpaca colors. (Aren't they gorgeous?) Stripes? Plaid?  Borders?  Lace? 


Posted on Sun, 08/14/2011 - 23:28

And you have kind of heavy yarns for weaving.  So  my reccommendation is keep the web open and light.  Also alpaca is fuzzy so a lot of detail, like the floats that occur in huck or Bronson lace will get lost after washing, although the holes may show.

Posted on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 05:10

ohhh, RHL and you have time to sample to see how the alpaca holds up to the holes on the heddle?  I'd put the worsted in the holes and color design around that.  The yarn is lovely.  Do some alternating different size color stripes with the bulky and sport weight in the slots and leave the worsted in the heddles holes.  It should hold up the best to the abrasion.  Sometimes you just keep it to simple stripes to show off the fiber and maximize the use of your equipment.  Especially during a public demonstrations....simple is good, you're explaining a concept, let the color stripes and the alpaca texture show off.

Posted on Thu, 08/18/2011 - 01:03

Great idea about putting the worsted weight through the holes.  It would not be good p.r. for me to be breaking threads!  I'm going to do a little sample...don't have too much to waste.

Posted on Thu, 08/18/2011 - 12:08

I made an assumption that all three skeins were 100% alpaca.  The sport weight is 70% alpaca, 20% merino, and 10% bamboo, and worsted is 60% alpaca, 30% merino and 10% bamboo.  Will that help the yarn wear through the holes/slots better?  

Posted on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 14:51

I've used those blends before, and they do hold up better than 100% alpaca. Still, because weaving with alpaca is quite different from weaving with wool, I second the suggestion to sample. I'm very glad I didn't skip the sampling step the first time I wove with 100% alpaca yarn on a rigid heddle loom! Here are some suggestions: to avoid abrasion, use the edge of the shuttle rather than the rigid heddle reed to place the weft; keep the space between weft pics quite open because alpaca yarns tend to full/blossom nicely; consider using less tension on the warp than you might for wool yarns; while wool fibers want to grab each other, alpaca fibers seem to want to slip past each other--just something to keep in mind as you weave; try various treatments for scarf ends during the sampling stage--I've found that knots, twisted fringes, etc. using alpaca yarn don't always end up as I think they might based on my experiences with other types of yarn. In general, be gentle with alpaca and it will produce a lovely, soft scarf that will delight you and your audience. Alpaca is right up there with silk and cashmere on my list of favorite weaving fibers.

Posted on Fri, 09/02/2011 - 23:52

The suggestions are really insightful. OK, I will sample.

Posted on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 01:12

I ended up falling in love with weaving with the alpaca blends. They held up fine in the heddles, were soft on the hand, and the natural colors were delightful. I ended up making two scarves during the festival and the breeders were fascinated with how their fleece transformed on a loom.  I particularly enjoyed the luminescent quality of the dark brown yarn.  

Posted on Wed, 06/19/2019 - 00:07

I'm weaving a scarf on my rhl. I wanted 100% alpaca warp and weft, which I used once each 30 and 10 years ago (the last time I wove), but have had trouble finding it. I have a deadline and got nervous about getting started, so I bought what I could find, with some sales advice which I'm now questioning.

My warp is mostly fingering wt 50% alpaca, 25% silk and 25% linen, with a 2" stripe of purple 70% silk,30% yak.  I wanted fingering weight natural (cream/off-white) 100% alpaca, with one purple (dyed, of course) warp stripe and one natural black weft stripe. Even though I gave up looking for it for the warp,  I thought maybe if I kept looking while I got the warp set, I'd find it. Nope. So I got a lovely soft natural Woolfolk merino sport, and, take a breath, 40% Australian brushytail possum, 40% cashmere, 20% silk for the black stripe. It's lace weight, but very fuzzy.

My priorities are softness and drape, primarily. Warmth and durabilit,y too. The 100% alpaca scarves from long ago are both still in use & look good.

Now, I know the first thing you're thinking is about sampling, but I never heard of that before and am too invested in time to tear out, sample, start over.

I have woven 8" with the merino, alternating stripes of loose weave and solid weave (more tightly beaten). The possum is next. Then I thought if I can get the alpaca I want, I'll weave a little more of the wool and then start the alpaca. At the far end, I'll do similar loose and tight wool.

So, several questions: does anyone have a source for royal or baby fingering weight natural 100% alpaca? If I buy on line, without feeling or seeing it, how do I know that it's really royal/baby?

What will give me the soft drape that I'm aiming for?

How do I change from a thin weft yarn to a thicker one and vice versa? Overlay?

What other advice do you have for this *insane* project, that doesn't involve starting over, that includes as many of the elements that I've already planned (and bought!) as possible? Not where are my unfixable mistakes or what I should have done, but what are the pitfalls ahead and how can I mitigate them?


I'm hoping y'all will see this as an interesting problem-solving challenge for your experienced mind rather than a really annoying example of ignorant newbie over-reaching.

deep and humble thanks,



rhl newbie