With camelids, it’s all about the fiber.

| January/February 2008

  • IMG_0088

    Jenn Nemec
  • FibersidebarHats

    iStockPhoto.com/Natasha Japp

  • IMG_0088
  • FibersidebarHats

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.

Animal Fiber Diameter
Vicuña 6-10 microns
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
Guanaco 16-18 microns
Merino (sheep) 12-20 microns
Chinchilla 21 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

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