What's unique about llama fibers?
Llamas are resilient creatures, well suited to the rugged South American mountain ranges they come from–and so is their wool.
At Karukinka Outdoor, we’re dedicated to using only natural fibers in the production of our clothing, and you can find out why here.
Llama wool is the main component of the garments we create in the city of Porvenir in Tierra del Fuego, where each clothing item is handmade in an ethical factory. Before it is spun into wool, we source raw llama fibers from local breeders in Patagonia. We then weave the yarn into strong, supple, moisture-wicking, odor-resistant jackets and sweaters that look great and perform even better. Our production line is sustainable and ethical, ensuring that are impacting on the planet is as amazing as our products.
So why do we choose llama fiber to create these amazing garments?
Llamas are undeniably loveable creatures, goofy but refined, spunky yet regal. They are part of the camel family and their close cousins include the alpaca and guanaco. Native to the Andean mountains, llamas have a double coat that has made them popular around the world. It ranges in colors, including white, grey, reddish-brown, darker brown, and black. Llamas are shorn about every two years and can produce up to eight pounds of fiber per animal.
Llamas were domesticated some 6000 to 7000 years ago by the pre-Columbian people of the Andes mountains. In the Incan Empire, llamas were so essential to the ancient Andean way of life that llama breeders had their own social caste. The fibers were used for clothing, blankets, rope, nets, and more. Llamas were also great guard animals and the Incan god of animal protection, Urcuchillay, was depicted as a multicolored llama. Usually docile creatures, if they are mistreated or on alert they are known to spit, hiss, and kick.
After the arrival of Spanish conquistadors (who brought sheep, donkeys, and other domesticated animals to South America) caused a decline in their population, llamas became internationally popular again in the mid-1800s. Today, it’s one of the most highly-sought natural fibers, and for good reason.
The undercoat of a llama is fine and downy, protecting the animal from both the cold and heat. It is most often used for clothing. The outer coat, on the other hand, is more coarse and acts as a shield that wicks moisture and sheds other debris. This outer hair is more commonly used for rugs, wall hangings, and ropes. This layer is usually removed before the fiber is spun or blended with other fibers. Baby llamas have finer and even softer fibers that are similar to the fleece of an alpaca.
While the characteristics of llama fiber can vary from animal to animal, an interesting aspect of this animal’s fleece is that it is hollow, making it structurally different from the fiber of sheep and many other wools (excluding those of alpacas, which share this unique feature). The hollow core of llama fibers gives them remarkable insulating properties while also offering unparalleled strength, flexibility, and durability.
In addition to its interesting history and the quality of its fibers, another incredibly unique fact about llama fleece is that it is in some ways hypoallergenic. Many people who have sensitivities or allergies to other animal hair or fiber don’t have the same reaction to some types of llama fleece.
Llamas are unique creatures and the natural fibers from these animals create the most functional and beautiful garments.