In indigenous crafts markets throughout Peru you’re going to encounter a wide selection of “100% baby alpaca” sweaters, shawls and blankets, usually at amazingly low discounted rates.
Only trouble is, more often than not, these garments are brushed acrylic, not the genuine article.
On the road from the ruins of Sacsayhuaman to the Inca capital, Cusco, there’s a charming high-end weaving shop, Factoria ALPAQUITA, where well-trained staff take the time to offer a detailed explanation on the secrets to knowing the difference between baby alpaca, alpaca & llama, and imitation acrylic wools.
Six tips to discern baby alpaca from a synthetic knit fake
- Touch! The only way to be sure you’re buying genuine baby alpaca knit ware is to feel the garment.
- The first thing you’ll notice about real baby alpaca compared to an acrylic fake is the weight. Baby alpaca is a substantial wool. Acrylic yarn is extremely light by comparison.
- The baby alpaca sweater will be remarkably soft and smooth, inside and out. The acrylic fake will be brushed on the outside, creating a temporary similar feel, but inside it will be rougher.
- In most cases, a quality, hand-made baby alpaca sweater are knit in one piece — no inside seams! A synthetic fake is more often than not a commercial garment, mass produced, with internal seams.
- Quality baby alpaca knits are usually produced in natural colors or dyes – earthy shades of white, browns, grays and reds. The fake acrylic are made with bright chemical powder dyes.
- The genuine baby alpaca sweater will be cool to the touch. Acrylic is warm.
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