Plum of London x Grey Fox Blog

We’re delighted to have received a glowing review on our Royal alpaca men’s knitwear from the most refined of gentleman – The Grey Fox! Read the full article here:

Plum of London – Royal alpaca knitwear made in Britain

Businesses making knitwear in the UK are now quite common, but few, like Plum of London, use Royal alpaca from South America, a fibre which exceeds cashmere in strength, warmth and softness. Plum’s founder, Hugo Douglas, works closely knitting and weaving mills in England and Scotland to push the boundaries in knitwear fashion and to create sustainable and Eco-friendly luxury British knitwear using ethically sourced alpaca yarn.

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Royal Alpaca Menswear Range 

The menswear range is still under development, but I tried a few items. The feel is of a smoothness and softness that speaks luxury and quality. The fibre is naturally light in weight and this gives the garments a misleadingly insubstantial quality which is contradicted by their warmth and comfort. Alpaca of this quality would make a superb fabric for sporting base layers and could be worn next to the skin without smelling unpleasant in the way that modern artificial base layers do. Keep an eye on Plum of London. Their innovative, sustainable, ethical and novel approach to knitwear offers a real alternative to high end, expensive fashion brands making lower quality products outside the UK. To see their ranges for men, women, chilsren and homeware, see www.plumoflondon.com

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Plum of London – Lauding Alpaca Knitwear

We’re on a mission to educate and inform the world of the incredible benefits and advantages Royal alpaca possesses over all other yarns and so far, we think we’ve done quite well! So we thought we’d share the latest flattering reviews from Press and Customers alike…

Press Accolades

Awarded the Butterfly Mark as a ‘Brand To Trust.’ Positive Luxury

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‘Named in Top 5 Alpaca brands’. Eluxe Magazine

“Plum is a beautiful product”. Jo Malone MBE

“A beautifully intricate knit in the softest alpaca yarn.” Mrs Carole Middleton, mother of the Duchess of Cambridge

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”Plum of London, the brand that combines an incredible range of alpaca clothing with a guilt free way to shop.” The Good Web Guide

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”Launched in Britain, the new brand Plum of London quickly became a reference in the kids industry.”Papier Mache Magazine

‘Named in the best winter beanie hats for men’. The Telegraph

Best eco fashion brand: Plum of London
We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in the Junior Design Awards!

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“Keep an eye on Plum of London. Their innovative, sustainable, ethical and novel approach to knitwear offers a real alternative to high end, expensive fashion brands making lower quality products outside the UK” Grey Fox Blog

Customer Reviews

”Good evening, thank you for my items, which arrived today. Not only are the items lovely but I felt the need to drop you a line to say I like the personable way you do business. In a world of poorly worded emails and badly stuffed envelopes, it has made a pleasant change. With best wishes” Ms T.Smith, England.

”Hello I Just wanted to say thank you and how pleased i am with my recent order. I love the colour and feel and quality of the alpaca. The hat is warm without being heavy and sweaty like most hats. The ‘man snood’ as i call it is very comfortable around the neck and head, very comfortable item to wear.
The order came quickly, beautifully packaged and feels like a top quality product. I’m really keen to only buy products of this nature if i can afford them. I wish you every success and i am really happy with my purchase. Well done and thank you.” Revd. A.B. Midlands, England.

”The parcel arrived yesterday and I am very, very pleased with the scarf and the snoods! Wonderful products, I am sure I will come back to Plum of London! Thank you and kind regards from Finland.” Ms S.M. Jaali, Finland.

”Hello, I’m emailing you back to thank you for your email and specially for the nice scarf which I’ve got today, looks very good. I’m happy with the purchase and the service as well, thank you again and keep the good work up. Best Regards, Y.E.” London, UK.

”Just wanted to say – this is the BEST warmest scarf! It’s below -12 F degrees out and it blocks wind and keeps me nice and snug! Can’t wait for my neck scarf, ideally I could be encased in some kind of alpaca chrysalis!” Ms L.P. Chicago, USA.

We look forward to the day that you too can write something similar about Plum of London’s alpaca clothing and accessories – we’re sure you’ll be converted soon enough!

We look forward to welcoming you too to the family that is alpaca here at Plum of London…!

Why Alpaca?

We’re often asked why alpaca yarn performs so much better than cashmere, merino, wool as well as other yarns so have compiled which can be found below…

Why Alpaca?

Alpaca fibre has an almost infinite list of benefits and advantages over all other yarns;

Hypoallergenic

Unlike sheep and goats wool, alpaca fibre does not contain lanolin meaning that Plum of London’s knitwear range is especially good for babies, children and those with sensitive skin.

As soft yet finer than cashmere

Royal alpaca (which is used in our knitted clothing range) is the world’s finest alpaca yarn and boasts a micron count of less than 17. This results in alpaca knitwear that handles just as softly as cashmere but possesses so many more benefits.

Naturally antibacterial

Thanks to there being no lanolin present in alpaca fibre, pure alpaca clothing and garments repel dust mites and other organic matter which might trigger allergies.

Lacks the ‘prickle factor’ associated with wool

This risk is eradicated in our collection because we use only Royal alpaca in our knitted range. It has been said that those who can’t wear cashmere can wear alpaca.

Possess incredible thermal qualities

Properties which protect and insulate the alpaca at heights of up to 5500m and in temperatures varying from -28c to +27C mean that pure alpaca clothing  keeps the wearer cool in hot temperatures and warm in cool conditions. When required, alpaca fleece is 3 times warmer than merino and better insulating even than goose down.

Machine washable

Some fabric experts suggest alpaca has a lower tendency to shrink than both cashmere and wool, Due to alpaca being free of lanolin, Plum of London’s knitted garments don’t require regular cleaning but when required, are easy to clean and more importantly, machine washable!

Extremely durable

Alpaca fibre is almost indestructible: woven alpaca clothing has recently been found in almost perfect condition in Incan ruins dating back over 2,000 years. Alpaca is stronger than mohair and second in strength only to silk.

Wicks away body moisture

Therefore improving the comfort of anyone wearing alpaca clothing and ensuring that the wearer maintains a constant body temperature.

Resistant to stains

Alpaca fibre is impermeable to oils meaning spills are easy to clean up before water saturates the fibre which would otherwise allow stains to develop supporting the claim that there is no better yarn in which to clothe babies and children.

Resistant to odours

Thanks to its antibacterial and water resistant qualities, alpaca fibre successfully resists odours much more effectively than other similar fibres.

Does not retain water

Tests have shown that alpaca is virtually water repellent, allowing alpaca clothing to maintain its thermal qualities even when wet.

Not prone to ‘pill and ball’ unlike cashmere, wool and other yarns

All animal fibres contain ‘scales’ which are visible on each individual strand but the scales that are found on alpaca fibre are much shorter consequently improving the wearability and lifespan of alpaca clothing and products as they are less likely to create ‘pilling’ and ‘balling’.

Lightweight and has lustrous handling

Thanks to the ‘hollow’ qualities of alpaca fibre, Plum of London’s garments remain remarkably light when compared to other similar animal fibre (including merino, wool and cashmere) as well as synthetic clothing.

Resistant to wrinkling

Consequently, this helps alpaca garments to hold their shape and look new after even years of wear.

Fire resistant

Whilst it can catch alight, alpaca will not support a flame and so will not melt or stick to the skin unlike synthetic fibres. Alpaca does has been found to be even more flame retardant than merino wool.

Resistant to solar radiation

Which will protect your baby’s, children’s or indeed even your own skin from harmful UV rays by providing the wearer with a natural sun block.

http://www.plumoflondon.com/index.php

Best British Men’s Brands

Plum of London admires many brands but those we feel are the best British men’s brands form an elite list. As Englishman, the quality of the clothes we produce is something that we should look to with great pride. The tradition, heritage and innovation that have been employed by some of the greatest British brands in the world should feed this pride and the extraordinary craft that goes into making a Savile Row suit or a pair of Northampton-made shoes deserves to be celebrated.

Gieves & Hawkes
If the brand’s position at No1 Savile Row isn’t enough, then surely their three royal warrants will prove to you the incredible longevity of Gieves & Hawkes. Gentlemen from Winston Churchill and Prince Charles to David Beckham have long been fans of the world famous brand, and the tailor prides itself on the exquisite attention to detail placed on each and every stitch, whether it’s an off the peg blazer or a bespoke suit.

Turnbull & Asser
This is admittedly one of our favourite Men’s British brands. When it comes to shirt-making, there are very few brands that live up to the expectations of the marvellous Turnbull & Asser. Expertly crafted products made in their own unique way and with quality at the heart-centre is what the brand, which was established in England in 1885, prides itself on. Many of the Turnbull & Asser craftspeople have over two decades of experience between them, and with the Royal family holding the brand close to their hearts from day one, you know you’re buying into an incredible piece of history.

Floris
Another favourite of Winston Churchill’s, the brand also has Princess Diana and Ian Fleming on its books, and continues to have pride of place both in Britain and all over the world.The fragrance you spray should be as unique as the suit you wear, and there’s no better brand for the scent of a lifetime than Floris. As the oldest independent family run perfumer in the world, you’d be right to assume that the brand knows a thing or two about scent; they have been creating rare and beautiful fragrances since 1730.

Crockett & Jones
The esteemed shoemaker of Northampton is certainly our favourite men’s show brand here Plum of London HQ. The 5th generation family-managed business has since paid the utmost attention to creating seriously high quality and beautiful footwear that’s guaranteed to take you through all walks of life.

dunhill
Alfred Dunhill took over his fathers equine-goods store in 1893 and doubled its turnover within six months. And so, whether it was creating the lighters that the brand became so well-known for, or making bespoke blazers that’ll last you a lifetime, dunhill remains as ahead of the game now as it was over 100 years ago.dunhill has always been one of the most innovative British brands in the world. Iconic and always with a strong sense of its own message, dunhill has paved the way for many other Great British design houses who have drawn inspiration from their ethos.

Purdey
Whether through their guns or field-wear, Purdey is a true representation of British craftsmanship in the highest form. Since the brand’s establishment in 1814, they have been leading the way for gun and rifle makers all over the world.

Holland and Holland
The brand has held its own at the forefront of great British design for over a century.Their unconventional establishment in 1835 hasn’t stopped Holland and Holland from being at the pinnacle of British gun-making. Coming from a tobacconists background, Harris Holland initially founded his brand as a passion project after developing a keen interest in competition shooting and thus his need for a bespoke gun. You can guess the rest…

Lock & Co
Top hats and fedoras are an accessory synonymous with the English gentleman and Lock & Co are the brand to go to for such an item. Heritage and tradition are at the heart of Lock & Co’s ethos, and since the brands been around since the 1600s, they play a large part in every one of their hats.

Johnstons of Elgin
No British list such as this would be complete without the inclusion of an incredible cashmere brand, which is where Johnstons of Elgin comes in. Since it was first established in 1797, the company is still run by the same two families that started it, the Johnson’s and the Harrisons.

Geo F. Trumper
Geo F. Trumper is a British barber than stands out time after time in a continuously saturated market, and one that works with tradition at the base of everything it does. It’s been on the scene since the 19th century and still remains to rival all other modern barbers in the country through its two locations on Duke of York Street and Curzon Street.

Hardy Amies
When you think Savile Row, you think Hardy Amies. Sir Edwin Hardy Amies himself was best known during his time as an official dressmaker for Queen Elizabeth II. The tailor is one of the most highly respected in the world and with clients such as the Royal Family, when you purchase anything from you brand you can be sure that you’ll be in good company.

Emma Willis
With the factory sitting in the middle of Gloucester in a beautiful 18th century townhouse, Emma Willis is about as British as it gets. The brand creates some of the most luxurious shirts, boxer shorts, pyjamas and dressing gowns in the world; clothes truly fit for a gentleman and bespoke items that will last you a lifetime.

William & Son
William & Son prides itself on its heritage, history and iconic, distinctly British design: attention to detail is one factor that will never be overlooked.

Star Wars x Alpacas

Separated at birth…?

Baby Alpacas Ewok

Ewoks from Star Wars may help some people some of the time but alpacas help everyone all of the time! Why, well just visit our ‘Why Alpaca’ page which details just some of the amazing benefits, qualities and attributes alpaca fibre possess:

http://www.plumoflondon.com/why-alpaca.php

 

“Plum is a beautiful product ” – Jo Malone MBE

Jo Malone hails Plum of London’s luxury British alpaca knitwear!

Jo Malone, founder of one of Britain’s most famous and best loved brands in the Nineties has become synonymous with luxury and indulgence. It is therefore with great honour and extremely exciting that having experienced Plum of London’s alpaca clothing and accessories first hand, Jo Malone commented “Plum is a beautiful product.”

The incredibly soft handle and infinite list of benefits that our Royal alpaca knitwear offers will surely have influenced Jo Malone’s highly regarded opinion of our collection.

Full report to follow…

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Positive Luxury Meets Plum of London

In recognition of Plum of London’s recent achievement in being awarded the Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury, the founder of the ethical alpaca brand was recently interviewed and offers his thoughts on everything sustainable, British and of course alpaca.

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Tell us a little about the origins of Plum of London
A few years ago, owing to a number of sudden events in both a personal and professional capacity, I had the opportunity to do work with a knitwear brand which is where I first experienced the incredible attributes, qualities and benefits of alpaca fibre. The Incan society was literally ‘woven together’ by alpaca fleece with the very best reserved to clothe royalty and nobility and has since been referred to as ‘’The Fibre of the Gods’’, but only now is Western society starting to appreciate its incredible attributes and true value. Knowing that alpaca yarn was for some reason underappreciated in Western society, I saw an opportunity to create ethical and sustainable alpaca clothing which has the potential to revolutionise the knitwear industry. Armed with a strong desire to support the British knitwear industry, I then sourced sympathetic mills who can all be attributed in helping me realise my ambitions: to create sustainable and eco-friendly luxury British knitwear using ethically sourced alpaca yarn. This remains firmly at the heart of the Plum of London brand

What’s your vision as you take the brand forward?
To provide others with the belief and evidence that alpaca is the future of knitwear an quite possibly clothing. With this, I believe that alpaca can change people’s lives and ultimately the environment for the better. It’s an incredibly versatile and highly adroit yarn meaning that it’s purely a matter of time before other are fully informed, educated and have been made aware of what this yarn’s true capabilities. By continuing to create clothing which meets the ethical values our environment deserves whilst ensuring that the needs of the increasingly demanding consumer requires, we will create an evolving brand which will remain at the forefront of sustainably pioneering clothing and allow us to be a key influence in the future.

What are the benefits of alpaca over wool?
A huge and significant number! Alpaca fibre truly is incredible and needs to be handled first-hand in order to be fully appreciated. We do find that many people have quite negative preconceptions of alpaca but thanks not only to the incredible qualities of the fibre but also our ability to revolutionise the manufacture of alpaca yarn, the quality and handle of our products is exceptional and amazes all who come across them. Essentially, the first comment we hear when is that alpaca’s incredibly soft – its handle is far superior to wool – it’s always softer than they’d imagined. Alpaca also lacks the prickle factor associated with wool and merino whilst some claim that it’s even softer than cashmere. Royal alpaca is better performing than merino both in breathability and thermal qualities, hypoallergenic, naturally antibacterial and possesses incredible strength – it’s stronger even than mohair. I could go on – alpaca is mesmerising but I don’t want to bore you!

Why is made in Britain so important?
Often, the made in Britain label is seen merely as a reference to something traditional or heritage whilst avoiding the significant part it actually plays but it would be a mistake to undervalue its importance. Not only do we have a chance to support our own highly skilled workers who have shown huge resilience over the centuries but we strongly believe that alpaca not only has the ability to help revive the British knitwear industry but also revolutionise knitwear itself. The versatility and adaptability Britain has shown from the invention of the first knitting machine in 1589, to the industrial revolution and more recently to Scotland – famed for its cashmere production, the decline of the industry would be devastating to the communities which were not only built upon it but once thrived because of it.
Our desire to continue the historic achievements of the British knitwear industry is not simply nostalgia, it is borne out of a creditable belief that using our highly skilled workers, we can create a better product which will be revered and cherished the world over. After all, our aim is to create truly indispensable sustainable fashion which will be adorned and loved for many future years and shun the fast-fashion mentality that is all too prevalent on today’s high street and this is a trend we need to buck at the earliest opportunity.

How can consumers be assured they are buying from a brand they can trust?
Ultimately, it all comes down to the transparency of the brand. It is their responsibility first and foremost to provide a suitable level of engagement with the consumer and offer the relevant information. There are a number of new marketing techniques brands are adopting to raise their exposure and to promote their values which are wide and varied but thanks to organisations such as Positive Luxury, it is becoming a little easier for the consumer to fully appreciate the philosophies and ideals that various brands possess.

How do you think the textiles industry can influence consumer demand for sustainable and ethical production?
By creating durable and high performance products which are made to last. The tendency to use synthetic materials, the production of which also has a major detrimental impact on our environment, is culpable of the increasing woes our planet is experiencing. If we can source materials ethically, conscientiously and responsibly, we will soon be in a position to reverse this course. The ‘throw away mentality’ that seems to be imbedded in the psyche of today’s western society can also be halted as the consumer will become more acutely aware of the dangers their current shopping habits will have both socially and environmentally if maintained.

Describe Plum of London in three words:
Sustainably pioneering alpaca

Gieves & Hawkes x Orlebar Brown

The news that Plum of London’s favourite resort-wear brand has collaborated with the knitwear label’s cherished Savile Row tailor is cause for excitement and news worthy of sharing.

Celebrating travel and exploration, Orlebar Brown and Gieves & Hawkes have collaborated on a capsule collection of tailored ready-to-wear suitable for the modern man and their worldly adventures.

The pre-eminent Scottish explorer David Livingstone has inspired the collection and allowed Orlebar Brown to reimagine his meticulous hand-drawn maps onto a range of utilitarian clothing. Livingstone is one of the most popular national heroes of the late 19th century thanks to his pioneering expeditions and championing of causes from social reform to anti-slavery.

In many ways Livingstone has deep connections with Gieves & Hawkes. When Livingstone was feared dead in 1871, the New York Herald sent Mr Stanley to find him. Dressed in Hawkes & Co, Stanley found Livingstone in good health and well-dressed in Gieves. Upon Livingstone’s death, his body was returned to London to lay in repose at No.1 Savile Row – the headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society at the time and the home of Gieves & Hawkes since 1912.

The unique collaboration summons the spirit of curiosity, exploration and discovery both brands convey making it a project both apt and fitting.

As Livingstone said himself:

“I AM PREPARED TO GO ANYWHERE, PROVIDED IT BE FORWARD”

David Livingstone (19 March 1813 – 1 May 1873)

The Future of The British Knitwear Industry

As a niche British knitwear label thanks to our focus on alpaca, we’re often asked our opinions on the future of the British knitwear industry and what it may hold for us.

As we’re now affiliated with Virgin, they recently posed some questions and asked our thoughts on Start-ups, alpaca and many more . Find the full interview below.

How startups can save traditional industries:

There’s a lot of talk about tech startups that are taking us into the future – but at Virgin StartUp we’re just as excited about the startups moving back towards traditional industries and techniques, innovating and ensuring that these skills aren’t lost. One such business is Plum of London, the first UK business since the 1830s to focus on high-quality alpaca yarn products. Here founder Hugo Dougass talks about why we should do our best to preserve traditional industries – and how.

The British knitwear industry is declining for a reason: a surge in competition from cheaper overseas manufacturers. We could allow it to fall to its demise peacefully and avoid the drain on both time and resources it will require to reverse; or we can be optimistic, take note of the demand from both national and international consumers, and do our best to pass on the skills and techniques that have been honed over the centuries and support those in typically more rural areas with opportunities to succeed. I believe it’s a case of channeling our efforts and investing in people and machinery which will allow the British knitwear industry to once again be an international leader.

Often, the Made In Britain label is seen merely as a reference to something traditional or heritage, but it would be a mistake to undervalue its importance. There are numerous British brands who have become global powerhouses in the last hundred years thanks to their British manufacturing stance. Even though there is a significant amount of increased worldwide competition, there are opportunities for many more brands to do the same – it’s partly a matter of creating a niche product and benefiting from the specialist and highly skilled workforce this island can boast.

The versatility and adaptability Britain has shown throughout the centuries – from the invention of the first knitting machine in 1589, to the industrial revolution and more recently to Scotland, famed for its cashmere production – the decline of the industry would be devastating to the communities which were not only built upon it, but once thrived because of it. Britain has always succeeded in adapting to the times and forging a new path, and it is now of paramount importance that we do so once again to ensure the industry’s longevity.

There are many varied reasons for the decline of the industry. Significantly, since the mid-20th Century – aside from debatable government policies and general complacency – there has been a surge in the development of overseas manufacturers who have invested more in technology and advanced means of production than we ever considered. We’re currently witnessing it in steel, we’ve seen it before in the shipbuilding, motor and aircraft industries, and if we don’t correct the trend, we’ll soon see it the knitwear industry.

One might say that although the manufacturing industries are in decline, the economy has been balanced thanks to the resurgence of other industries, finance being most notable. This might be a relatively constructive counter-argument, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that these statistics are based upon lone individuals whose opportunities, needs and desires require attention. I think it’s unlikely that someone who grew up in the Borders and has always wanted to work in textiles may want to relocate to London to work in finance just because that’s where they’re told the opportunities lie. Of course they’d prefer to work in their chosen industry in Britain, but may soon may find that their chances of success are moving to Japan or China.

Without the continuous flow of new workers the knitwear industry desperately needs, we’ll find ourselves in another vicious cycle: fewer skilled workers in well-paid positions creating less disposable income to spend on goods made by other skilled workers in another industry. This trend is cyclical and would have a detrimental impact if we allow it to continue.

British manufacturing is struggling and has been for quite some time, but this is doesn’t have to be terminal – there is a possibility that we can prevent this impending decline and there are many reasons for us to be optimistic. There is an increasing desire for British products internationally, especially in emerging markets where economies are growing and the Made in Britain label is aspirational. I see a constant stream of start-ups launching ecommerce platforms supporting British goods and ethical products – to say that this is encouraging is an understatement. There are many established organisations from UKFT and UKTI who we’re in talks with, to independent organisations such as MakeitBritish.com and StillmadeinBritain.com whose sole aim is to promote British brands and products. Upon approaching many mills, they’ve all been receptive to our ideas and ambition even though they conflict with everything they’ve previously done and experienced. It is this will and versatility that needs to be adopted and nurtured. From our perspective, no doubt it will.

Our desire to continue the historic achievements of the British knitwear industry is not simply nostalgia; it’s borne out of a belief that we can create a better product using our highly skilled workers, a product which will be cherished the world over. After all, our aim is to create truly innovative sustainable fashion which will be worn and loved for many future years, shunning the fast-fashion mentality that is all too prevalent on today’s high street.

The Benefits of Royal Alpaca Knitwear

As a luxury alpaca knitwear brand, we’re often asked why we’ve chosen to work with alpaca and more specifically Royal alpaca as no one else is doing the same, but ultimately this is why…

Alpaca is a hugely undervalued and underappreciated yarn but this is because no other label has been able to pioneer new manufacturing techniques which allows it to handle as softly and perform as well as we have. Some have claimed that our Royal alpaca products are literally softer than cashmere which may certainly seem true for some pieces in our range as they possess a particular stitch which exacerbates the softness and quality of the product. The fact that every one of our alpaca products have so many other attributes and qualities that people are unaware of is something that we are indeed trying to remedy. Given the popularity of our range, this task is becoming easier by the day.

Here are a just a few of the incredible benefits of Royal alpaca knitwear, clothing and accessories possess…

Alpaca is;

Hypoallergenic
Naturally antibacterial
Smoother than silk
Finer than cashmere
Insulates up to 30% better than merino
When required, is warmer than goose down
Lacks the ‘prickle factor’ associated with wool
Breathable
Stronger than mohair
Wicks away body moisture
Machine washable
Resistant to stains
Resistant to odours
Virtually water repellent
Not prone to ‘pill and ball’ unlike cashmere & other yarns
Lightweight & lustrous handling
Resistant to wrinkling

If you’re still unsure as to just how good our alpaca products actually are, we can only try and persuade you to try one and experience this wondrous yarn for yourselves. After all, it is known as ‘The fibre of the gods’ and ultimately, ‘touching is believing’…!

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