My wife has a lovely alpaca jumper which is beautiful but rarely worn because it’s itchy. She can wear a long sleeve t-shirt underneath but it has a turtle neck which is next to her skin. Is this normal for alpaca wool? Is there anything that can be done to make it less itchy?
I haven't had experience with alpaca fibre, but if you don't want to use fabric conditioner, then hair conditioner or distilled vinegar can also be used. I've heard also that raw egg makes a good hair conditioner, so that may be worth a try.
Alpaca can be baby-soft or it can be as coarse as human hair. It depends on the animal (and diet and environment and...). Think about just after a hair cut how itchy the cut ends are on our neck.
It could also be how the fibre was processed. Some of the cleaning chemicals are quite harsh and most of the time the itch comes from a sensitivity to those chemicals. But this should go away with washing the sweater.
It's a beautiful sweater. I would almost be tempted to take it to a knitter and ask their price to lower the neckline. It's actually quite easy in a sweater like that. Maybe 2 hours work.
You folks are great! I’ll start with a vinegar solution and then if that doesn’t work, try some of the other suggestions. And then investigate reworking the neck line. I think the jumper is at least 20 years old and much loved. Thank you!
I agreed with Raven about altering the neckline. It looks like the neck part starts with rows of 2x2 ribs then rows of skoninett that forms the rolled edge. If you remove the skoninett part you will get a crew neck. It will work out great
with a shirt or a small scarf underneath.
Based on the halo that can be seen in the pictures I'm going to say x2 on finding someone to alter the neckline. Also, if taking it back and knitting a smaller trim you'd have some yarn leftover to save for mending that may be done later.
From the halo in the pictures it looks like the fiber was a blend and not dehaired. Which makes sense being actually from Peru, I don't know a ton about it but I don't think dehairing machines are used there. They just grade the fiber and different grades go to best uses softest to coarsest, rather than running the fiber through a machine to remove the coarsest fibers.
Remember that prickly feel is actually your skin reaction to the amount of coarser fibers poking out from the average. Coarse fiber doesn't have to be prickly and much softer fiber can be prickly if there is above a certain percentage of fibers that are coarser blended in.