Guanacos are a member of the camelid family, living typically high in the Andes Mountains of South America. Because of the value of their fiber they are a protected species. Wild cousins of the domestic llama and alpaca, as well as the vicuna, the guanaco's natural range lies between northern Peru to the southernmost tip of Chile. Now numbering over 1 million, and protected by the government of Chile, the guanaco roams mostly in the Torres del Paine National Park. This tiny animal produces extremely soft, downy fiber that is surprisingly easy to spin.
Guanacos have a double coat similar to cashmere; the under coat is a fine fiber one of the finest natural fibers in the world, and boasts a uniform and very pale camel color. The outer coat consists of much coarser fibers, guard hairs, these are a much darker cinnamon (the belly and neck contain white guard hairs) and act to keep debris and moisture out. Guanaco fiber must go through the dehairing process which removes these coarser guard hairs and leaves the downy undercoat which is the valued part of the fleece. The average weight of fleeces is about 750 grams although some breeders have some guanaco that produce nearly 2 kilos. The fleece of the Guanaco is technically made up of hairs with a medullated core and should therefore be called fiber not wool. The processing to remove the guard hair and the (generally) lighter coat, as well as the scarcity of guanacos outside of South America all lead to the premium price of this fiber. Of all the world's furbearing animals the guanaco's wool is second only in fineness to that of its wild cousin, the vicuna.
Cunnington Farms (Utah) :
Crown Mountain Farms: Crown Mountain Farms is located in the countryside outside of Yelm, WA on a 5.5 acre farm. From top of the hill they have an outstanding view of the majestic Mount Rainier. In the past years they were raising Scottish Highland Cattle, Cashgora Goats and Shetland Sheep. From raising animals for their fiber came the appreciation and the inspiration to offer exquisite spinning and knitting products. This they did first by travelling to fiber related shows in the Pacific Northwest. In 2005 they expanded the business with their own website. Under the "wings" of Crown Mountain Farms you will find many artists and their products represented through them. In 2006 they started adding handspinners to their team to produce their own line of hand-dyed, hand-spun sock yarn which led ultimately to offer also hand-spun exotic yarns. From raising fiber animals to the finished product, Crown Mountain Farms is a "living philosophy" and you will find their love for what they are doing reflected in the service they give to their customers. They sell Guanacos fiber among others.
Royal fibers: small company selling Guanaco fiber from their small herd. They live in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California on about 10 acres. Their newest ventures are the farm store, Royal fibers, and their investment in and small herd of Guanacos.
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