Vicuña, Guanaco and Paco-Vicuña – Turning Gold Into Yarn

I’m going to tackle this one fiber at a time so hang on for the ride.

Vicuña fiber that is coming into the US typically has a staple length less than 1″.

What you are seeing is 2/10 of an ounce of vicuña. This will be spun on a charka, which is particularly good for dealing with really short fibers.

This is the first vicuña yarn I made. Spun on a charka, plied on a light top whorl spindle. Not much yardage, but considering it costs around $300 oz you are not going to make a shawl out of it unless you have very deep pockets.

In contrast guanaco costs a paltry $30 oz.

This is a lighter colored dehaired guanaco, it also is a bit washed out by the flash and no matter how I adjusted it came out lighter than in real life. Its staple is longer, but more like somewhere between 1-2″ long.

Here is some spindle spun guanaco in the darker color. It turned out to be the perfect travel project as I could take a few tufts of guanaco and spin for a long time while at a dog show.

Just to compare, here is a picture of the guanaco (about 1 ounce skein) next to the tiny sample of vicuña.

Now you get a better idea about how much is there of each.

The prep for both the vicuña and guanaco is simply spinning directly from the “cloud” of fiber, You could card either one or blend it with another fiber, but for these yarns I chose not to.

The paco-vicuña was a gift from Toni. Yes the fiber than has been on walkabout. I guess all I need to do to scare something out of hiding is blog about it being missing.

I washed it and then decided to both comb and card samples of it similar to what I have been doing with my wool fleeces.

The samples were carded with cotton carders so I created no additional neps other than what was already there.

Not the smoothest preparation and there is a small number of guard hairs scattered throughout. I didn’t try to remove. If I was spinning for a project I certainly would try to remove them.

Here is the finished skein. Not terribly lumpy and bumpy, but hard to spin much thinner.

The combed fiber produced a lot of “waste”. And at $25 to $30 oz for raw it can add up to a considerable amount of weight. The preparation was much smoother and since it had a staple length of between 2 and 3 inches it was not that hard to comb and pull off a bit of top.

The yarn spun was a bit finer, not a whole lot as I used the same spindle, a Bosworth Featherweight, to spin both samples. If I took more time I could have spun much finer.

I’ve been overwhelmed with visits and comments since Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka The Yarn Harlot posted about Sheepwreck in her blog. Thanks everyone for stopping by and visiting. And Steph thank YOU for coming to Madison.

Believe it or not, I originally planned to go to the Madison event. I live about 10 miles south of the Illinois/Wisconsin state line. It is quicker for me to drive US 12 to Madison, than to try and thread my way through Chicagoland traffic to get to Oak Lawn. I have traveled that route many times for flyball tournaments. And despite having grown up in Indianapolis, Madison feels more like home to me than the suburbs of Chicago. I think I just miss living in a college town.

Knitting “Camp” (actually it was officially a workshop) was very important to me. It was not sock knitting, but EPS (Elizabeth Percentage System). It was a safe camp for me to attend as it was a lot of stuff I knew already punctuated by things I didn’t. It also met my long time yearning to go to one of Meg’s camps. Will I go back? Perhaps one day, I have not decided yet. It is certainly worth it.

BTW, keep an eye on this link for some future news of the herding crew. Pictures will be updated on a periodic basis. (Yes they are Australian Shepherds not guinea pigs.)


3 thoughts on “Vicuña, Guanaco and Paco-Vicuña – Turning Gold Into Yarn

  1. My hometown is Roscoe, IL (though I live near Seattle now) and I always felt more at home in Madison than Chicago. Then I went to school at Beloit College, which oly cemented my Madison connection. Funny… Good to know it’s not just me!

    And beautiful spinning, too!

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