Llamas are Camelids, from the same family as the Alpaca, and there are similarities in the fibres. In their native South America, Llamas are traditionally beasts of burden, also valued for their fibre, meat, and dung – the last being used for fuelling fires of the indigenous people and for fertilising their crops. The Llama is larger than the Alpaca, and is generally a quiet-natured animal, having been domesticated for hundreds of years.
Llama is a soft, warm, luxurious fibre and very versatile. It can be used in spinning, knitting, weaving and felting. A raw unsorted Llama fleece can contain long coarse (outer) guard hairs, which give the fleece a coarse handle. But when these hairs are removed, by hand or machine, the result is a wonderfully smooth, soft medium which is a delight to work with. The handle is similar to Merino, Mohair, or cotton wool. Younger Llamas’ fleeces are generally finer than those of adult animals.
Fleece colours range through the natural spectrum, from white through to black. The combination of these colours, plus the soft handle, are ideal for creating attractive, non-slippery fabrics which easily assemble into garments. Llama blends well with other fibres, but unless the craftsperson needs to make a small amount of fibre go further, it is an interesting and rewarding exercise to spin the fibre on its own.
• Llama breed page •Thanks to Janette Buckingham for supplying the information and photographs for this page.