When designer Alicia Adams and her husband were looking for an enterprise conducive to raising their growing family, such as olive oil or a vineyard, a chance encounter with an alpaca led them to bravely embark on an exciting new adventure: breeding the rare Suri alpacas in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Alicia Adams Alpaca’S Pieces Take Coziness To The Next Level
A few years and some 200 alpacas later, the alpaca wool piling up had to be addressed. Her first stop was to a local wool and sheep festival where various spinners were tasked with making yarn from the alpaca fleece. Adams knew only that the yarn had to be super soft, with no itchiness; the flat, thin scales of alpaca help avoid the itch factor. Even though the samples came back too scratchy, Adams pressed on.
Alpaca wool, or fleece, is softer than cashmere, warmer than wool, lightweight but durable, and naturally hypoallergenic. Because of its natural, silky luster, it was once reserved for royalty. The ancient Incans treasured the fleece, calling it the fiber of the gods.
Going straight to the source, Adams journeyed to Peru, the native land of alpacas, where she discovered some small, family-run mills that utilized the pre-Incan tradition of working alpaca fibers into the soft, lustrous yarn she had been searching for.
With her quest complete and designs for sumptuous throw blankets, baby sets, capes, and clothing for the whole family in mind, Adams created Alicia Adams Alpaca, a collection of high-end textiles for the home and family using 100% baby alpaca wool, one of the world’s most sustainable and luxurious fibers.
Adams says she always recommends the classic throw as a versatile baby gift for both mother and child. The bestselling throw comes in over 90 natural and eco-dyed colors such as English rose, citrus, and oceanside. “The mom can wrap it around her and the baby, and then put it in the stroller,” Adams says. “The baby will grow up and always have the blanket in their nursery room, in their kid’s room, and in college, too.”
Adams’ favorite item in the collection is the Buckley throw, which features a pattern of enlarged cables with a twisting cable design. “The artist that makes these, it’s just incredible, the quality and the talent behind the Buckley,” Adams says. “It’s all hand-knitted. Both sides.”
An alpaca throw, if treated well, will last a lifetime. “It’s not going to fall apart like other fibers,” Adams says. “It’s a very sustainable and hearty fiber.” Alpaca wool has a high tensile strength, which means it takes a lot of force to break it. Thanks to the natural curl in the fur, the fiber has high elasticity, which means sweaters and pillow covers will maintain their shape.
Of course, demand for all things cozy increased during the pandemic. “A lot of people were redoing their homes and getting all comfy, thinking maybe they could upgrade their worn-out cushions now that everyone’s home all the time,” Adams says. “The pillows and bedspreads have definitely increased in popularity.”
In the 11 years since she began her journey, Adams continues to strike alpaca gold. The newest additions to the home collection are soft, handcrafted alpaca rugs. These flat-woven rugs feature a natural shine and luster, and are available in minimalist, modern prints or in all natural colors. Custom rugs are available up to 14’ x 20’; standard sizes include 4’ x 6’ and 5’ x 8’.
Alpacas are born in one of 24 natural shades, from snow white to jet black, with grays and fawns in between. “The alpaca is the only fiber animal that produces that color, and so many different colors,” Adams says.
Adams’ modern design aesthetic combined with real world practicality is at the heart of the business. As more and more people are staying close to home, Alicia Adams Alpaca is continuing to focus on luxurious, handcrafted, and sustainable products that will last for years and years.
“What I love most about my job is that it’s a family business,” Adams says. “I love creating beautiful things with alpaca, and then making people happy with it.”