To say that alpaca sweaters are “immortal” is a pretty bold boast. But yes, if you properly care for your alpaca sweater, it might outlive you. However, if you intend to throw down some currency for top-end Peruvian clothing from your favorite high quality alpaca seller, you need to take on the responsibility of knowing how to wash and store this luxurious garment. We operated a retail store for 32 years in a small town and saw our sweaters go through the complete life cycle on zillions of customers, so we are speaking from experience.
Why Buy Alpaca Sweaters?
Before we dive into caring for your alpaca cardigan or sweater, let’s explore why you might want to purchase one (or three) to begin with. First of all, you can wear it as a spring, fall or winter sweater, as well in over-cooled offices or on brisk summer nights. Even better, while you’re wearing the heck out of nearly year-round, it’s not pilling or stretching, because alpaca fiber is extremely long and incredibly strong. We have seen alpaca wool sweaters decades old that still looked great. In fact, we own some.
We could go on about this amazing fiber: how its cultivation allows traditional rural farmers to stay on their lands. How it’s a sustainable clothing brand dating back 5000 years and getting shout-outs from Tupac Yupanqi, Manco Capac and other fourteenth-century Inca celebrities. That’s right: during the Inca Empire alpaca was reserved for the royalty. But whether you’re wearing an alpaca poncho or a long elegant sweater coat, all types of sweaters of alpaca are uniquely silky, soft, and durable, and they’ll make you feel like a million bucks. And that’s what really counts
But lets talk about how to keep this affordable luxury affordable: by not destroying it!
First of all, while alpaca fiber is extremely strong and durable, that doesn’t mean you can take a chain saw to it. Beware of snags, unraveling threads, or moth damage, and when you find a problem, stop wearing it and get it repaired (hint: try asking around a shop that sells knitting supplies). Follow these other rules of the road to keep that item of chic clothing looking great and reeling in the compliments:
HOW TO WASH A SWEATER
To hand-wash a sweater or alpaca coat you should wash it in cool water with a mild detergent like Woolite or shampoo, gently kneading and squeezing the garment. Don’t wring it rub the surface too much. Adding hair conditioner will make your sweater even softer. After rinsing, you should gently squeeze out the water and lay it flat on a towel to dry.
HOW TO BLOCK A SWEATERAlthough you can’t shrink a sweater to size, you can still lengthen or widen it a little bit. This is called blocking the sweater. This works best with heavier sweaters, but can be done on lighter ones to a lesser degree. It’s great when the sleeves are just a little bit too short. First, get your sweater soaking wet. Then, after squeezing out the water, and laying it on a towel, gently pull your alpaca clothing out to the dimensions desired. The sweater should then be weighted with clean heavy objects until it is dry. It will then retain its new shape.
Follow these guidelines and not only will your investment last for many years, but you’ll still be getting compliments on it long after your other sweaters are a distant memory.