Llamas produce an all natural, organic, luxury fiber. It is a wonderful renewable resource. Llama fiber has microscopic characteristics of hair, rather than wool, however, " wool" is commonly used to describe it.
Fiber is measured in microns. A micron is 1/1000 of a millimeter or 1/25,000 of an inch. The lower the micron count, the finer the fiber. Deviation is the percentage difference between the guard hair and the undercoat. The lower the number, the finer the fiber. Fiber found on ancient mummies in Pre-conquest Peru show that llama fiber averaged 22.4 microns with a deviation of 2.3. That rivals the best alpaca fiber today. The best llama fiber falls in alpaca range. Both llama and alpacas are significantly finer than Romney and Lincoln, the two sheep breeds raised for natural color. Llama and alpaca have a broader range of natural colors.
The unique hollow core fiber structure accounts for the remarkable warmth and insulating properties of llama fiber. It is lightweight, sheds rain and snow and comes in 22 natural colors from pure white thru cream, tans, grays, reds and browns to pure black.
Llama fiber does not contain lanolin so has fewer allergic reactions than wool. It also has a higher yield in processing. It is clean, odorless, greaseless and light, making it very popular with handspinners who use it alone or blended with sheep wool or other fibers.
There were only two types of llamas the native peoples recognized in South America but in the US the llama population exhibits a wide variety of fleece types resulting in cross breeding and working towards superior fiber.
Often called the classic llamas. These were the working llamas, primarily from Peru, that made up the majority of the first llamas imported before 1980. They have short flat hair on their head, legs and sometimes neck. There is a heavy outer guard hair and short undercoat that can be combed out easily. They are generally tall llamas, 44" + at the shoulder in the US, and can be 6-7feet tall at the head. They were selected for weight carrying abilities and balance, primarily as pack animals.
Combed fiber from Ccara llamas can be soft but is generally very short and almost always contains some guard hair making it less suitable for spinning.
Similar to Ccara and often called "short wool" in the US show ring. They may lack the heavy guard hair and do not shed out the down coat, so must be sheared.
The true wooly llama as it’s known in Peru and Bolivia. The fleece is very dense and does not shed at all and requires yearly shearing . There are two sub types.
Tapada ( Ta-PA-Dah)
Have a small amount of wool on their head and on the leg below the knee and a heavy coat on the body.
Lanuda ( La-NOO-Dah)
Is single coated, silky, long coated and has a great deal of wool on the head and ears and abundant fiber on the legs down to the feet. Selectively bred to minimize the percentage of guard hair to produce a fine uniform fleece which may or may not have crimp. These apear matte finish because only guard hair has luster. All the fiber is suitable for spinning. The majority of llamas at Pleasant Ridge Llamas are Lanuda.
This fleece type has more guard hair, though that hair is fine, which creates a different kind of uniform fleece with luster. The individual, distinct locks have no crimp. Yarn has a great deal of drape making items created from it heavy and flat.
Pleasant Ridge Llamas values llamas of all types and offers fiber from some exceptionally fine fibered llamas and alpacas. Coming soon !!! llamayarns@etsy .