This month we’ve been looking back at the origin of baby alpaca at AREA. We also shared a story about LIAM, everyone's favorite present.
Wirecutter even chose LIAM as their favorite baby alpaca throw!
AREA founder & designer, Anki Spets, has been designing with baby alpaca for over 15 years and it all started with the LIAM collection.
15 Years of LIAM
2010 The original : LIAM original three colors (almond, graphite, soft grey) in blankets and throws with a regular fringe
2012 “Brights” introduced : LIAM green, magenta, orange, yellow to complement similar colorways in SIMONE linen duvet and cases.
2013 New sizes & colors : LIAM camel, classic grey, earth, navy to add rich yet neutral options. LIAM original three colors debut in king throws.
2015 Leading up to the blush trend : LIAM rose, a melange with great dimension.
2016 More blush : LIAM bordeaux, soft pink to add variety to blush and porcelain combinations.
2017 The next evolution : New colors blue, poppy and spice, intense and adaptable melange shades. Keeping on colors from 2015, LIAM’s regular fringe is replaced with an eyelash fringe to update the throw to a more unique, modern piece. King throws were adjusted to a wider size and called XL. LIAM and COLIN also get their own version of a decorative pillow, becoming immediate bestsellers.
Travel sets with a LIAM from 2013.
Inspired by LIAM
The simplicity of LIAM was the catalyst for 15 years of baby alpaca items, from blankets to throws, to clothing. The weave of LIAM is plain, with a surface brush accessible in its softness. It is comfortable, attractive and easy to like. Anki works only in natural fibers where parameters of creating something new are weave, color, and detail.
LIAM easily lends inspiration to new pieces, starting with HUGO.
The HUGO blanket used the same type of plain weave as LIAM, but was double-faced with knitted edges as a subtle elegant detail. Reversibility is a trait of a lot of AREA blankets. What can be more practical and fun and add more longevity than being able to flip a blanket, revealing a completely different side?
HUGO came out in 2011in grey/brown reversible & in 2016 hazel/natural was added.
Next, she focused on exploring a new texture. Continuing on her signature graduated stripe theme as seen in INES, MILES, RUBEN and most recently OVAL, she came up with JACK. Using industrial looms to create a basket weave, she wanted to keep the yarn’s silkiness intact without brushing. This meant that JACK would have a little more of a sophisticated look and feel, plus a subtle shine.
JACK debuted in winter of 2012 in throw form, then became a permanent offering as a popular blanket in 2013.
In 2015 AREA expanded past LIAM throws and introduced new plain, soft weave baby alpaca patterns. Check out other LIAM inspired throws.
Here Anki tapped into her affinity for masculine-inspired universal designs that don’t get boring or go out of style. Basic stripes, as with HARVEY, plaids such as JASPER and geometric patterns like COLIN don’t require jacquard (a programmed repeating pattern) and so are not only simple to make, but keep the smooth, even feel of the original LIAM.
HARVEY, a constant favorite, mixes hues of grey & brown in a magnified version of Anki’s “graduated stripe”.
Classic plaid JASPER throw comes in graphite & soft grey.
Geometrically perfect, yet somehow unfussy, COLIN is easy to throw into the mix.
Deciding to revisit the basket weave that had made JACK so popular, this time she took full advantage of the overlapping basket weave and mixed contrasting tones, and neutrals with colors. Starting out with ELLIOT beige, a mix of beige and light grey, and ELLIOT dark grey, grey and white, these throws expanded on another theme that AREA is known for: close up contrasting tones that disappear into a harmonious blend from far away. The color combinations of ELLIOT blush, espresso, mineral, and ink, marry the best of both warm and cool tones that have endless possibilities for every day (and night).
ELLIOT started as a throw in 2015 & then expanded to blankets in 2016.
In fall 2017, AREA debuted another basket weave, this time hand-loomed: the NORTH blanket. Heavy and thick, but surprisingly airy, it falls somewhere between knitted and woven in appearance. It was AREA’s most luxurious blanket to date.
NORTH in dark blue, grey & natural.
Clothing & LIAM
When Anki launched her first baby alpaca clothing items in 2011, she wanted to make fine, lightweight pieces using this exclusive material. Starting with knitted yarn robes, the ELLE boatneck poncho, the TESS layer poncho, and v-neck sweaters, the idea was to make simple, basic pieces that were perfect for layering.
In 2013 came the wide and long ALIA scarf, as well as the JEN poncho, light as a TESS but with hood detail. Both knits came in a natural graphite shade that went well with everything.
The knit TESS layer poncho, available in almond, soft grey & graphite is still in stock to this day.
Next AREA debuted the LUCY poncho in three natural LIAM colors: almond, graphite, and soft grey. Woven rather than knitted, the LUCY brought back the feeling of the LIAM throw in a simple but elegant poncho design, draping shorter in the front than the back. Its versatility in shape and design meant it could be worn in a variety of ways, used as a cover-up while traveling, and even pulled forward around the neck like a scarf.
The FAY, a hooded version of the LUCY poncho was also made as an option for truly cold climates where nothing but head-to-toe coverage would suffice.
The popular woven LUCY poncho has been in stock since the day it debuted in the three natural LIAM colors, and even took a jaunt into black in 2014.
Wanting to add even warmer pieces to the AREA clothing line, Anki designed a series of items in 2014 in what she called “chunky knit”. Using older, smaller, manually operated knitting machines and a heavy yarn, she designed ponchos, a turtleneck sweater, long scarves, and a wide throw. Here it was all about the heaviness of the yarn and the bulk of the rib knit defined all the pieces.
The FLO scarf, part of the "chunky knit" line of AREA baby alpaca clothing.
In the winter of 2015, AREA added a LIAM weave wide scarf called MILO that could be worn as a regular scarf but doubled nicely as a wrap. Colors were again the three natural tones, plus black.
Most recently, in the theme of the chunky rib knit, was the KIAN turtleneck sweater and ALLY scarf. This new version of the “chunky knit” has yarn mixed with merino wool to make it lighter.
KIAN sweater + ALLY scarf from 2018
When asked her personal favorites, Anki opts for an updated version of the original classic, the LIAM XL throw. But she quickly notes a second favorite, her latest creation, ELLIOT blankets.