Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fibers of the Andes - Vicuna


Just after the holidays we took a quick trip to South America, visiting Peru and Argentina.

The fibers of  Peru include llama, alpaca and vicuna.  I discussed alpaca fiber  (1/7/17 Alpaca Christmas Gift) so today we will visit the vicuna, probably less known.

Llams, alpacas and vicunas are members of the family of camelids.  The ancestors originated in the great plains of  North America 40 to 50 million years ago. Approximately 3million years ago these New World camels migrated to South America.  All camelids have usuable fiber, and the cinnamon-colored fiber from the vicuna is the finest and most luxurious.  It is also the most expensive due to the their near-extinction  from European hunters. 

For decades the export of vicuna fiber was forbidden by international laws. With these efforts, the wild vicuna herds have increased to approximately ¼ million and the wool is being hand gathered legally.

These are shy animals and the smallest of the camelids, about 150 pounds. 

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