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The Golden Threads Blog
Have you ever thought about a fiber bucket list for spinning? Luxurious, expensive, exotic fibers would be at the top of that list would they not? Or maybe you want to grow as a spinner and branch out and try new things. Even if you never plan to do anything with exotic fibers as far as knitting, crocheting, or weaving; exotic fibers are a must try for many hand spinners and Fiber artists. You can learn a lot about technique and texture from exotic fibers; each fiber diversity different than the next. If you are an adventurous fiber artist and like to try new things then Guanaco fiber would be an excellent fiber to work with.
Guanaco fiber is a very unique and often forgotten fiber since it's relative the Vicuña gets all the glory for being the fiber to try. Like Vicuña the Guanaco is a camelid and part of the same family as alpacas, llamas, and camels.
The guanaco fiber is comprised of a super soft and down under coat guarded by a harsher guard hair. The guard hair has a crunchy crisp texture that is between 2-2 1/2inches in length. The guard hairs are removed from the fleece before spinning. If the guard hairs were left in I would venture to say most would not want to work with the fiber as it would feel itchy. Once you have removed the guard hairs you may be disappointed to see that you have 50% less fiber but the fiber you are left with is this super soft, plush, fuzzy undercoat that is between 3/4 and an inch in length.The undercoat has no luster to speak of, it really it has a powdery or chalky look to it. The undercoat is very warm to the touch and the softness is one that is so hard to describe without experiencing it. One thing that may scare some hand spinners is the amount of vm this fleece can hold. I personally have never worked with a fleece like this that had that much vm in it but I will assure you the vm for the most part falls out freely as you begin to work with the fiber. There is no lanolin in this fleece and once you remove the guard hairs and shake the vm out you can spin this fiber with no washing. This fiber doesn't have any crimp to really speak of so if you are planning to make something with it I would advise you not choose a pattern that requires a lot of memory as this fiber does not have that. This fiber due to its shorter staple and lack of crimp needs a lot of twist in the single to make a good strong yarn. This is a lovely fiber and would be beautiful in a shawl pattern where you want a light weight drape.
As a hand spinner and fine fiber connoisseur I highly recommend you give this fiber a try. If processing it seems like a bit much you should at least try already processed Guanaco fiber. The luxurious feel to this fiber will for sure put a smile on your face.
SHAWNA MARIE VENCEL
SHAWVE FRENCH ANGORAS AND FIBER ARTS