New Routt County company selling locally-made alpaca fleece hats just in time for winter
November 21, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Your next favorite winter hat could be made with fleece from of a fluffy, cuddly alpaca living on a farm off Routt County Road 35A between Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek.
Yampaca, a brand new local clothing company, launched an online store last week selling beanies and headbands that promise to keep customers warm and dry this winter.
Their handcrafted hats are made from the extra fleece gathered from a herd of 83 alpacas on the Bee Grateful Farm just south of Steamboat.
And you might have to feel it to believe how soft it really is.
"I have the hardest time describing to someone how soft these hats really are," said Craig Weese, Yampaca's marketing director.
Weese can easily explain the benefits of using alpaca fleece.
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Tests have shown an alpaca's fleece, which is hypoallergenic, is warmer than wool thanks to a hollow core in the fibers.
Weese also touts the fleece's ability to resist water and wick.
"When the snow is coming in super soggy, you can wear it all day, and it will not be soaking wet," he said.
There's a good story behind the alpacas, too.
Farm owners and Yampaca co-founders Jason and Hethir Rodriguez went shopping for just 10 alpacas to bring back to the Yampa Valley.
But when they visited the herd, they fell in love with the whole family and brought back 87 of them.
The alpacas are guarded from mountain lions and other potential predators by livestock dog Bodhi, and another Australian shepherd named Jackson Brown helps keep the herd in line.
Weese said there are plans to get Yampaca's customers more acquainted with the stories behind individual alpacas, and that shoppers might someday be able to choose which one they'd like to source the fleece from.
The alpacas’ names range from Snowflake to an "overly-friendly" boy named Mozart.
The fleece is sheared off the alpacas when the temperatures climb in the summer. It is then sent to Yampa Valley Fiberworks just down the road in Craig to be processed.
The hats are made with a combination of 80 percent alpaca fleece and 20 percent merino wool.
Weese said the wool is added to help the hat keep its shape over time.
The alpaca hats do come at a higher cost because of higher production costs.
Headbands are running for $39.95, while a set of reversible beanies are priced at $59.95.
Hats come in different colors that are natural to alpaca fleece. And each hat comes with a logo tag made of bison hide.
To learn more about Yampaca or to place an order, visit yampaca.com.
Weese said the company has plans to start crafting other clothing items in the future.