When I first became interested in alpacas I soon found there were two different types – huacaya and suri. Huacayas dominate the world population with roughly 95% and as much as 85% in the USA. The extremely fine crimpy fibers grow perpendicular of the body, much like sheep grow wool, creating this wonderful soft fluffy long necked teddy bear. Most of the alpaca fiber related products in the marketplace are from the huacaya alpaca. Suris are a rare breed of alpaca with their lustrous, silky smooth draped fleece. The fiber grows off the body draping elegantly into locks of luster. These incredible characteristics make suri a very unique natural fiber.
I was first introduced to the suri alpaca while living in Hood River, OR. The pacific northwest has a healthy population of alpacas and was one of the first locations with the original imports from South America. Wanting to learn as much as I could from all the local ranches, I made frequent farm visits to the surrounding areas. I was intrigued by both breeds of alpacas and knew someday I would own both breeds but it was the suri alpaca that I fell in love with. I liked the fact suris are a rare breed of alpacas, the suri breeders community is well organized with the Suri Network, and the fiber just
feels so dang good. Not to mention, there isn’t anything so elegant in animal than to have a suri alpaca in full fleece come running down the hill. The lustrous, shiny fiber just sways back and forth. They’re just awesome.
After 7 years of raising suri alpacas, I went to the dark side (or came from) and now have a small herd of wonderful huacayas. When it comes to fiber and end products, there is no better yarn than huacaya and suri blended together. For years I’ve kept my yarn and products to 100% suri but have realized suri fiber should be treated as the secret sauce in a blended yarn or felt. At least this is the direction we are taking for some of our
end products. But of course, it really depends on the desired end product. Suri does really well in woven products due to its straight fiber that lacks any memory. Knitted items tend to grow on a person or become larger due to the heavy drape. Whereas huacayas does a lot better with knitted items having more memory with its crimpy fibers. The natural luster and silky smoothness compliment the huacaya fiber nicely.
At the end of the day, there is no better or worse alpaca fiber between suri and huacaya. With the new introduction of huacayas, we now feel complete in raising alpacas for the wonderful natural fleece they provide each year. Come take a look at the best of both worlds and visit with us. We’ll let you make the chose which you like best huacaya or suri.