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Fiber Facts and "Lingo"

We toss around a lot of statistics and terminology on this website that we've learned over the years.  Seeing it all can be overwhelming at first, but once you have it down, it all starts to come together and make sense!  NOTE:  we use Dr. Norm Evans for density testing and Yocom McColl for histogram testing.  Averages given for density testing information are pulled from the pool of Suris that Dr. Evans has tested.  These numbers will shift and change as the pool increases in size.


Density:  Average follicles/sq mm in Suris - 46 
The more follicles per sq mm, the greater the density and the more fiber one gets from a single animal. 

Secondary to Primary fiber ratio average (S/P) - 9.2:1
As the secondary fibers are the softer fibers which improve the feel of the yarn, the ideal is to have as many secondaries to primaries as possible.

Gland presence (indicating luster) is rated 1-4, with 3 being average
The gland levels are thought to influence luster, although the research on this is not yet conclusive.

Micron spread between secondaries and primaries average:  10:1
Similar to grading fiber, the closer all of the fibers are in micron range, the better the handle of the yarn or end product.  We are finding this to be a critical component of making great fiber.  We have a few animals with higher microns, but because their primaries are so close to the secondaries, their fiber still feels lovely and spins up nicely!

Medullated fiber average:  40-50%
Medullation, while adding warmth because of the hollow shaft of the fiber, is also thought to reduce the handle of the yarn or end product.  Thus, in Suri, the ideal is to minimize medullation.

Mean fiber diameter (MFD):  tells the average micron count based on a reasonable sample size of raw fiber.  Below 26 microns is considered good, below 23 microns is considered superior, and below 20 microns is considered the best possible outcome for any fiber, based on international standards.  Note:  Suri's slick handle improves the micron "feel" by up to two microns, and processing Suri under 20 microns often proves to be difficult.  So, there is still debate about the ideal Suri micron level.  Salt River Alpacas strives to maintain a micron level below 28 microns over the life of the animal, which often means the first one or two clips will be under 20 microns.

Coefficient Variable (CV):  a mathematical calculation that expresses uniformity of the fiber microns within each sample.  Ideal is 20 or less.

Grades of Fiber:
The textile world generally uses six grades of fiber for Alpacas:
Grade 1 - < 20 microns
Grade 2 - > 20 but < 22.9 microns
Grade 3 - > 22.9 but < 25.9 microns
Grade 4 - > 25.9 but < 28.9 microns
Grade 5 - > 28.9 but < 31.9 microns
Grade 6 - > 31.9

Grade 1 is valued at a considerably higher dollar amount than the other grades.  Grade 2 is valued well also, and grades below that fall off precipitously.


1) As mentioned ealier, Suri's slick handle can improve the feel of the fiber by up to 2 microns.

2)  Suri fiber is closest in feel and processing to mohair, which comes from angora goats.  However, kid mohair, the finest of that species, does not typically have micron levels below 22, and most often after the second year, angora goats' fiber will jump to 28 microns and higher.  Suris, if bred correctly can retain their fineness through adulthood, resulting in a  more valuable animal. 

3)  Suri can be used in both knitting and weaving applications.

4)  Suri is known for its drape, luster, and wonderfully soft handle!

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