A strong demand for exotic animal fiber has created a market for everything from yak to buffalo to musk ox hair. Highly valued in spinning and weaving circles, llama and alpaca fiber has become a hot commodity, and garments made from the stuff are reaching more and more markets worldwide. High-quality llama fiber sells for about $3.25 per ounce, and the best alpaca fiber is available for about $4 an ounce. Guanaco and vicuña are very difficult to domesticate (they jump fences), and each vicuña produces only about a pound of the good stuff every couple of years, so their fiber is expensive. Guanaco fiber sells for around $30 an ounce, vicuña for about $225 an ounce.
One way that spinnable material is measured is by the width of each fiber, in microns (1,000th of an inch). The vicuña and alpaca top the charts for fineness.
|Alpaca (Suri)||10-15 microns|
|Musk Ox (Qiviut)||11-13 microns|
|Angora Rabbit||13 microns|
|Cashmere (goat)||15-19 microns|
|Yak Down||15-19 microns|
|Merino (sheep)||12-20 microns|
|Mohair (goat)||25-45 microns|
|Alpaca (Huacaya)||27.7 microns|
|Llama (Tapada)||20-30 microns|
|Llama (Ccara)||30-40 microns|
Source: International Llama Association