Karen Rice gives a tour of  Serendipity Alpaca Ranch in Northwest Vancouver on Thursday March 27, 2014. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)

With winter rapidly progressing we’ve so far been very lucky with the warm temperatures here in the UK but that’s not something that we can rely. Sometime in the next few months the likelihood is that temperatures will drop and if they do one of the first things that happens is people turning up the heating. It’s a reasonable response in most cases but at night there is another way to keep warm – more blankets. The problem with this is often the extra weight and bulk. It’s confining makes breathing harder and if you have medical issues can cause problems of its own.

We’ve had a partial solution to this for the last few winters – Alpaca throws. Alpaca wool has extremely good thermal insulation for its weight – six times better than standard sheep wool and it’s extremely soft and tough. It does have the slight drawback of not handling water particularly well but in a bed this should not be an issue!

Alpaca blanket

As with everything else there has to be a drawback and there are two. The first is that most throws tend to be very brightly colored and patterned in a traditional Andean style. This can look great in many situations but will not fit into many suburban bedrooms. There have recently been a number of more subtly colored throws available and that leads to the other issue – they’re more expensive than fleece or polyester throws.

Take this grey double bed sized throw – its £69. That’s compared to a grey fleece throw like this £19 one.

For me the fact that it is so much warmer, lighter and tougher makes a difference. We’ve had one throw for 7 or 8 years and it still looks like the day we bought it. If is turns to cold this winter I’m going to be very grateful for it and don’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone.

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