Have you ever wondered what the rarest yarn in the world could be? We tracked some down so we could tell you about vicuna yarn!
Why would a yarn be so rare that it fetches praise from all four corners of the globe? What makes a yarn so special that its envied by celebrities and monarchs alike? We tracked down some of the rarest yarn in the world: vicuna yarn.
What is a vicuna?
Native only to the Andes mountains, these rare animals cannot be domesticated and only live wild and free. They measure about half the height of an average alpaca, and produce small amounts of ultra-fine fibre of the ultimate softness and warmth. Vicunas are thought to be the wild ancestors of domesticated alpacas, and were protected by law by the Inca civilization and in modern day.
Unfortunately, vicunas were hunted almost to extinction by the 1970's, and they were put on the endangered species list until recent years. Thankfully for the earth and for crafters with lofty yarn stash goals, their populations have recovered - but they are still illegal to hunt. Vicunas range in colour from a yellow blonde to a medium brunette, and their fibre is kept in its natural state because it is vulnerable to most chemical dyes.
What makes vicuna yarn so rare?
Every vicuna fibre yarn and fabric comes from a wild vicuna: they have to be gently caught and released back into the wild. Vicunas can only be shorn every three years, as opposed to alpacas and sheep which produce larger amounts of fibre and can be shorn every year.
Vicunas were believed to be the reincarnation of a beautiful young woman who received a stunning gold coat after acquiescing to an old, ugly king's romantic courtship. As a result, only royalty were allowed to wear vicuna fibre clothing in the ancient Inca times!
Who has been known to wear vicuna yarn?
Celebrities like Nat King Cole, Marlene Dietrich, and Greta Garbo were known for sporting luxurious vicuna coats worth more than $20,000!
Prince Charles was gifted enough vicuna fabric to make a luxurious (and warm!) overcoat, which he still wears on a regular basis to events.
Where can I get some?
Knitters with a luxurious yarn stash can get some of this stunningly gorgeous yarn right here at Laughing Hens. The presentation box comes with two 25g balls of vicuna yarn, a pair of needles, and a pattern for a lace shawl. This is the only vicuna yarn available in the whole of the United Kingdom!