Most people will be surprised to learn that a core herd of guanaco can be found on the South Island of New Zealand. Listed internationally as Rare and Endangered, the Guanaco is considered to have fibre quality second only to that of the Vicuna. Guanaco in Canterbury are carefully bred to maintain breed purity but are also selectively interbred to restore quality to the national Llama herd. Llamas generally in New Zealand had initially been heavily interbred with Alpaca in an attempt to increase fibre quantity however the resulting coarse fibre was not popular.
Young Guanaco fibre measures 13-15 micron, adult 16-18 micron. Guanaco shed their fibre annually, it is collected by brushing, not shearing, meaning that both ends of the fibre are tapered naturally which eliminates most of the itch when worn next to skin.
Guanaco have a low percentage of guard hair which sheds in different season. After washing and carding, Guanaco fibre is ready to be spun. Here in New Zealand it is popular to blend it with 25% fine Merino or silk although many prefer to maintain the pure fibre.
It is almost impossible to purchase Guanaco fibre, either from Argentina or from Europe where their fibre is exported to and gobbled up by two large textile companies. Garments made from Guanaco fibre, like Vicuna, tend to have become exclusive to the rich and famous. No where in the world, except for villages at high altitude in Patagonia and in the South Island of New Zealand can brushed Guanaco fibre be found. Excellent for outer, intermediate or inner garments.