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A skein of Blue Sky Alpaca
Blue Sky Alpaca once knitted up
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Yarn Profile: Blue Sky Alpacas 100% Alpaca

First Impressions
How I wanted to love this yarn. I adore Blue Sky Alpacas' marketing brand, slick and clean with a faded image of a friendly alpaca face. I love the company's packaging and colors. And on the skein, with its slender rippling beauty, I wanted to marry this yarn. But experience cooled my ardor.

Available in 23 rich, earthy tones, this is a simple two-ply yarn with medium twist. It has a little bit of fluffy aura to it, but otherwise the fibers lie flat.

For this review, I used the color Lavender.

Knitting Up
I worked my first swatch from the center of the skein, and the results were only passable. Variations in thickness—with thin spots and occasional excess gobs of fiber—gave my swatches a decidedly handspun look. When I showed it to a non-knitting friend, she furrowed her brow and said, "There's something wrong here, right?"

Things improved as I continued my way through the skein, leading me to suspect that the problems were mostly related to using kinked yarn from the very center. You may be better served starting your skeins from the outside.

The yarn shed only slightly in my lap while I worked.

Blocking / Washing
Although my swatches relaxed instantly in the water, the edges remained curled and required blocking while drying. I couldn't detect any bleeding in the water, but my test yarn's mellow color may have been the reason.

With wash (in cold water following the manufacturer's instructions), my swatches lost a great degree of their brassy precision, blooming into a much softer, more inviting fabric.

My unwashed gauge of 5.75 stitches per inch expanded into 5.5 stitches per inch in the washed, dryed swatches.

Although the alpaca is soft, the supersensitive might still detect an element of itch in this yarn, especially around the neck.

When I applied friction to my swatches with a dark piece of fabric, it was quickly covered in small bits of fuzzy fiber. The bloom that began in the wash continued with wear, softening my swatches with each bit of friction.

Very few pills formed over time. Those that did form were easily pulled from the knitted fabric. When subjected to repeated movements that mimick high-wear areas (such as under the arms), my swatches developed gentle waves of loose fibers that, as with the earlier pills, came free with almost no effort.

Eventually the blur overtook the entire fabric surface, giving it an almost angora-like appearance. Structurally, my swatches showed no signs of degradation or weakening.

In the end, the couple's therapy was worth it—my initial disappointment gradually gave way to a greater understanding of this yarn's innate qualities and limitations.

The clear stitch definition may be a curse in stockinette (where every flub is magnified tenfold), but it's a boon for cables, ribs, bobbles, or any other kind of textured pattern. I can see it as an exquisite large textured shawl where the sheen and drape are amplified, and alpaca's innate warmth welcome.

A medium-sized women's sweater with some textured stitches will require 12 to 13 skeins, setting the price at the $100 mark. Alpaca is a luxury fiber, so this price is relatively reasonable.

When choosing a project, keep in mind that alpaca has little elasticity or fiber memory. Your garment will stretch and increase its drape even if you don't want it to. Tip: Always fold an alpaca garment for storage rather than hanging it in your closet.

Blue Sky Alpacas provides a limited selection of attractive designs that do the yarn justice. The company is growing, and I suspect we'll see even more pattern support in the future.

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