White to black and everything in between, plus beautiful fawns and browns. The color spectrum for alpaca fiber is rich. According Alpaca Canada there are 22 basic colors, most of which are shown in the color wheel above. And then there are color variations for everything in between. Just the natural range of colors between white and beige rivals any set of paint chips.
Our herd has a good mix of creams, light fawns and dark browns. We try to breed for white and cream, but the color of the crias (baby alpacas) can always be surprising – Dark brown moms with snow white crias and vice versa.
Some generalizations can be made based on color, too. For example, the healthiest animals and the ones with the best fiber are usually light fawn. The reason probably goes back to the original breeding done by the Incas when they worked with the wild vicuna. Vicuna fiber is incredibly soft, light and warm, but the vicuna cannot live and thrive in captivity. These animals have cream to medium fawn color in their fiber, and some of our alpacas have a similar color combination. Getting off topic a little further – did you know that the alpaca cannot live in the wild? It has been domesticated to the point that it can only survive in captivity.
Back to color – just using the variety of colors in an alpaca herd can provide a beautiful spectrum for garments and fabrics. The best part, though, is that harsh chemicals for dyeing are not applied to the fiber. Try a weaving project or knitting in fair-isle with natural colors. You will love the results!
Color wheel from www.lavignaalpacas.com.