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SURI FLEECE (OR FIBER)

A Suri’s fleece hangs in long, lustrous, silky, locks that drape from its frame. The individual Suri fibers are long and straight and twist together as they grow away from the skin. Suri alpacas have fleeces in a variety of natural colors which appeals to those who prefer all natural products. There are 16 official colors recognized by the Alpaca Owners Association. They can be white, beige, 3 shades of fawn, 3 shades of brown, bay black, true black, and 6 shades of grey, with many other subtle shades and hues. And to add more variety, some alpacas can be multicolored! Suri fleece takes dye well, creating an infinite color palette for the fiber artist. Suri fleece can also be blended before spinning with other fine fibers such as fine wool, cashmere, mohair, silk, tencel, bamboo and angora to attain incredible natural blends.

Comparing alpaca fleece to sheep’s wool, in general, alpaca fleece is stronger, lighter, warmer, and more resilient. Finer grades of alpaca fleece (known commercially as "Baby Alpaca") are believed to be hypo-allergenic, meaning it does not irritate your skin as sheep’s wool sometimes does. Unlike sheep’s wool, suri  fleece contains no lanolin and is therefore ready to spin after only nominal cleaning. Prized for its unique silky feel and superb "handle," Suri fleece is highly sought-after by both cottage-industry artists (hand spinners, knitters, weavers, etc.) as well as the commercial fashion industry.

SURI PRODUCTS: Suri's straight, lustrous fiber makes it an excellent choice for spinning fine yarn and weaving garments that show off its silky and lustrous nature. When used for crochet or knitting, it makes beautiful lacy items, that drape. To make items such as sweaters, all alpaca is served well by blending the fibers with other fibers such as merino to give the yarn more elasticity and memory to hold its shape. To shop for products made with Suri alpaca fiber please  VISIT OUR STORE

SHEARING DAY: Shearing day is the day that the owner reaps the wonderful rewards of having Suris. Shearing is an art requiring significant experience to guarantee the best harvest and the safety of the Suri alpaca and workers. Most Suri owners choose to use professional shearers that come each year. With an experienced team of farm helpers assisting them, the shearer is so efficient that they can shear up to 10 alpacas in an hour. Our Resource page has several documents related to shearing to help owners prepare for the big day. Resources

SKIRTING AND SORTING: The prime part of the fleece is shorn from the back, down the sides, and partially into the legs. This is referred to as the blanket. After shearing, fleeces are individually bagged and then "skirted" either on shearing day, or another day. Skirting refers to the removal of coarser fleece and bits of debris that may have been stuck in the fleece. Sorting is the next step where the fleece is evaluated for its qualities called grades. Fineness, length, color and uniformity determine the grade. A fleece that is fine and uniform is placed in one group and a fleece that is less fine or not as uniform in micron is placed in another. An individual fleece may actually be divided up so that one part goes into one grade, and another part of the fleece is placed into another grade.

COMPETITIONS: Fleece harvest is an annual event that occurs in spring. The Suri Network as well as other alpaca affiliates hold fleece shows where fleeces are placed into their groups by age and color and judged by professionally trained alpaca fleece judges. There are also competitions where a sample of fiber is spun by a Spinoff Judge and evaluated for how well the sample performs. There are Fiber Arts Competitions, and Skein Competitions where a handspun or millspun skein is examined and scored by a trained judge. To learn more about fleece competitions,  CLICK HERE

HISTOGRAMS: As you learn more about alpacas and talk with alpaca owners, you might hear them refer to histogram tests of the fiber. A histogram is a test done with special optical equipment that measures the diameter of individual fibers. After measuring hundreds of them at one time, analysis is done to determine averages and how much variation there is in the sample.  READ MORE

SKIN BIOPSIES: Another test some owners perform on their breed stock is a skin biopsy. A small plug of skin is taken from the alpaca's side and sent for analysis using a microscope. This test helps to determine the number of follicles-the hair growing cells in the skin- that an alpaca has. The higher the number of follicles, the better, for more follicles equates with more fleece and ultimately more money in the pocket of the producer.

EPD: Expected Progeny Differences in certainly a mouthful, but the information provided is invaluable. EPDs are computer generated predictions achieved by inputting measurements of an individual animal and when combined with the data of its relatives that are already in the system. Over time and with the addition of more and more cousins and siblings, the computer program is able to help the breeder predict the impact an individual might have on its offspring. The Suri Network has been strongly encouraging its members to participate in the EPD program that the Alpaca Owners Association maintains. This program uses histogram data that is collected directly from the companies that perform those tests.

S.H.I.P.: In 2011 the Suri Network began a program to evaluate and improve the suri alpaca herd in North America with that same mission to protect, preserve, and promote our beloved breed. S.H.I.P. stands for Suri Herd Improvement Program. Specially trained classifiers come to the individual farm/ranch and evaluate the conformation and fleece of the entire herd. Each trait is given a score, the information is collected and compiled and entered into the data base for access by fellow S.H.I.P. participants. This  gives the breeder one more tool to improve their herd, make breeding decisions, and see how their alpacas compare to others in the program. For more information on S.H.I.P. please CLICK HERE.



Suri Network
Phone: (970) 586-5876
Fax: (970) 591-0007

P.O. Box 1984

Estes Park, Colorado
80517


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Suri Network


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