Since Erin has put up a few videos about llama fiber I thought it would be cool to learn a little bit about this amazing fiber. I first learned about what I think are amazing properties of wool reading the Clara Parkes book "The Knitter's Book of Wool". I highly suggest reading it if you are into that sort of thing, it is readily available on amazon. It's the hippie/nerd combination in me that likes to know this type of information so I can kind of reflect a little about the animal while I spin some yarn or knit up a project with it. Don't get any ideas in your head of me wearing a flower crown and spinning naked in a field of flowers or something. I usually just pick up a bunch of fiber and admire it for what it is and then spin and continue on with my latest binge-worthy show on Netflix. I love sci-fi fantasy so you can picture me spinning to Game of Thrones! (Ugh when will that last season be out already?) Anyways here is a list of the super neat qualities of llama fiber!
It's hollow which means two things....its very warm and pound for pound it will outperform wool in the warmth category. Basically it's lighter and warmer than wool. It's kind of like the difference between worsted and woolen prep yarn. Woolen is looser and has air pockets when spun and is therefore a little warmer because it can trap body heat.
It has a lower natural scale and therefore has a low prickle factor for next to skin use. Scales are also what will cause a fiber to felt and or shrink with washing and agitation because they hook together on themselves. These scales are the reason why we now have the super wash wool products on the market today, to prevent the felting. Super washing is a process where the wool is washed in either acid to remove the scales or in resin to coat it and mat it down. This takes away the prickle factor of wool and also prevents it from shrinking. As with anything it seems in life with the positive comes the negative. The wool will not wick moisture as well as it should because the surface of the fiber has been altered and it looses durability. With llama because if its low scale you don't have to process away the scales so it keeps its natural wicking properties and is highly durable.
Llama fiber also does not have lanolin like wool does so it doesn't carry a natural odor or pick up environmental odors. This means if you are careful with any garments or products you make out of llama yarn you also don't need to launder them as often. When you do wash it, it can be done in low heat with mild detergent and it will readily air dry. This makes it better for our environment using less water, cooler water, and no dryer.
The fiber is very resilient so it doesn't pill or mat. That means its functionality is very high. When garments or materials wear its usually because there is a coating or layering (like the super wash resin) that wears away after a period of time. With llama fiber there is no process and therefore there is no functional fatigue, or rather it takes a very very long time or rough treatment for it to wear out.
Llama fiber also carries little to no static electricity.
Please don't take this as me bashing wool products. Wool is the first fiber I fell in love with after learning about all of its super cool qualities. The nerd in me will always go out and learn as much as I can about whatever it is I'm doing at the moment. This moment I just happen to be spinning llama. I still love wool and always will. I hope you all learned something new today and it encourages you all to go and find out about whatever fibers you happen to be using in your crafty lives.