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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • December 2017
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Winter is coming: Don’t despair, be prepared!

No one wants to think about it, but it’s again time for cold, snow and ice. Weather experts predict a very volatile winter for northeast Wisconsin during the 2017-2018 winter, with temperatures fluctuating 30 to 40 degrees in just a few days. Frequent changes like that make it difficult to plan for activities and what to wear. Too many layers and you’re dying from heat, too few and you’re an ice pop!

Luckily, Mother Nature has provided humans with a wonderful solution: alpaca clothing! Alpaca fiber has a hollow core. In cold weather, that air pocket retains body heat and provides a protective barrier of warmth. Alpaca fleece has even been used in subzero temperatures to prevent emergency communication electronics from seizing up. Sounds perfect for Wisconsin’s extreme winter weather. Clothing made with alpaca fiber works just like the insulation in your house — it keeps your body temperature regulated for comfort.

If you wear alpaca as your base layer, you will discover that you will need less layers, even in temperatures that are not constant. For example, when wearing alpaca long johns you will find that you are comfortable indoors as well as outdoors. Alpaca clothing does not have to be bulky and thick in order to keep you warm. You can be warm and pretty. Alpacas come in 22 natural colors and shades. Black is the most difficult to source while white is the most common. White alpacas tend to have a softer “handle” because of their finer fibers. White fiber also takes dye very well. This makes white fiber the first choice for many designers. So, while you won’t find a pink, blue, green or gold colored alpaca in someone’s barn, you will find lovely colored hats, scarves, gloves, sweaters and blankets made from dyed alpaca fiber.

Although relatively new in the U.S. market, South American designers have been utilizing alpaca in their clothing for years. As North Americans, Europeans and Asians learn to value the amazing properties of this fiber, demand is increasing. This has led to more stylish designs and better quality finished products. Clothing designer Ralph Lauren has just announced that the U.S. Olympic athletes will be wearing winter accessories, gloves, hats and scarves made from U.S. grown alpaca!

Alpaca long johns are the perfect solution for everyone. They are especially helpful for linemen, city workers and outdoor enthusiasts who spend a great deal of time in the extreme cold weather. Senior citizens can also benefit greatly from wearing them. As we get older we also get colder. This is caused by a decrease in blood flow throughout our bodies, which is part of the natural aging process. Lightweight alpaca long johns will regulate your body temperature far better than traditional long johns. They can be worn all day long. Not only will seniors be kept warm and comfortable, but they can even lower the heat setting in their homes. This will result in cost savings. According to the Alpaca Owners Association, alpaca fiber is also considered hypoallergenic. It is not scratchy and is a renewable resource as alpacas are sheared annually.

Alpaca clothing is the perfect way to be prepared for our Wisconsin winters! 

Sally and Tom Schmidt

Sally and Tom Schmidt began Sabamba Alpaca Ranch and Bed & Breakfast in 2006. Located in De Pere, they have successfully grown an award-winning herd of over fifty huacaya alpacas. Sally served as a director on the board of the Alpaca Fiber Co-op of North America and was a member of the National Show Committee for 2013. Sally and Tom specialize in educating new and existing alpaca owners. They focus on industry trends, health care, handling skills, product and business development, fiber sorting and grading, and breeding consulting. Sabamba Alpaca Ranch also features a bed & breakfast. Guests interested in alpacas can stay overnight for a full “alpaca lifestyle” experience. Their retail store is located on the farm and carries alpaca products, including socks, gloves, hats, mittens, sweaters, yarn, long johns and more.

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