Whether Suri or Huacaya, both types of alpaca fleece are considered luxury fibers because of their unique characteristics. In the United States 85% of alpacas are Huacaya while the remaining 15% are Suri. Both of these fibers can be as soft or softer than cashmere.
The huacaya alpaca has a crimpy, fluffy fleece often described as looking like a teddy bear. The fibers are perpendicular to the body and an ideal Huacaya fleece is fine, dense and uniform. The fibers form bundles of crimpy staples across the body of the alpaca. The lack of lanolin in both Suri and Huacaya fleeces increase the soft feeling of the fiber and makes the cleaning process easier.
Crimp in fiber refers to the waves or ripples in a group of fibers. Crimpier fiber may have a tendency to be finer and denser but not always. If the crimp is consistent across the alpaca’s body it shows that the whole fleece is uniform. Crimp is also associated with good yarn for knitting due to its consistency and elasticity.
Huacaya fiber is slightly elastic due to the crimp. It is used for anything from fabric to yarn. The yarn has a good handle which is the subjective feel of the fleece often associated with the uniformity of each fiber in the fleece plus its fineness.
Huacaya fiber is used for suiting fabric, yarn for knitting and crocheting and it also felts easily leading to a whole range of potential products.