Today it was -5 degrees Farenheit here in New York. It is the kind of weather where your hands and face hurt within seconds and you cry "cold-tears". Just the right time to pull out some soft alpaca and knit a hat for my beloved husband, who has been poking me in the arm every day: "I neeeed a hat, honey!" I got this unbelievably soft Blue Sky alpaca at the Yarn Company on the Upper West Side. Two days ago, I visited with the owners of The Yarn Company, Julie and Jordana, two spunky, driven New Yorkers. They met in college, and, although they both studied something else, bought The Yarn Company together when it was up for sale in 1997, and have been partners ever since (but more on that in February). The only other thing I'll mention now is that they publish knitting books, which was very helpful, because one of their patterns is a basic, simple, beautiful winter hat! How did they know? :-)
So today's yarn is alpaca:
Alpaca is one of my favorite yarns. When it is spun pure, it is very soft but also thick. It is almost like knitting thick angora. I love alpaca for men’s sweaters and scarves. In particular it is great for large, bulky sweaters that are worn instead of jackets. The yarn is naturally beige, light brown, dark brown, gray, or black. Alpaca can be very heavy. Coats or longer pieces of clothing made out of it can sag. As with angora, alpaca can come apart when pulled too hard, so try to knit loosely and don’t put too much pressure on your yarn while you are knitting. Do not use alpaca for your first project
An exception to the sagging nature of alpaca is baby alpaca. Today there are a number of companies that spin really nice baby alpaca. Since it is more forgiving, you can use baby alpaca pretty early on—perhaps not on your first project, but definitely on your second.
Llama and alpaca are nearly identical. Do not use llama for your first project.
Two great alpaca companies are: