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Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Originally written in Spanish.

The most expensive yarn in the world belongs to the smallest of camelids, the vicuña. It has the thinnest fiber, measuring between 12 and 14 microns in diameter. The thinner one fiber is, the softer it feels. To make a comparison, human hair has a diameter of 45 to 80 microns (that is, between 0.045 and 0.08 millimeters), while merino wool has 16 to 27 microns.


In addition to being thin, vicuña fiber is highly resistant. It’s made up of scales, which, when spun, intertwine, forming a very insulating fabric with excellent heat retention.

The amount of fiber each animal produces is another reason that determines its price. A vicuña produces approximately 200 grams every three years with an average length of between 2 to 4 cm, depending on the part of the animal’s body. If the fiber is smaller than 2 cm, the animal cannot be sheared.

Halfway through the last century, due to the commercialization of fiber and leather, the vicuña was in danger of extinction. Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile started to protect these animals to avoid hunting. Fortunately, the vicuña is not an endangered species anymore.

Part of this protection strategy was to recover the traditional shearing process, an ancestral technique that promotes the conservation and sustainable use of the species. It's called Chaku, a Quechua word that means a way of grouping vicuñas for a few hours to carry out their shearing. This method is safe for the animal and the communities that domesticate them.

The vicuña fiber is sold in its natural color and used for coats, sweaters, and accessories such as shawls and scarves. It's a durable fiber from which you can obtain pieces that will last for life, which makes it the most valued in the market. For this reason, it's one of the most appreciated by consumers of luxury products.

To learn more about vicuña yarn, check out this Ravelry page here.


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