3 Llama Objects

The stretch continues, as today’s “big reveal” is a commission I’d forgotten to tell you about. But, like all commissions, it came to me in a rather funny manner.

It all started with a note left for me at the shop, which said something vaguely about a person named “Danielle,” some “Alpaca – Llama spun yarn,” and had a phone number. I called the number; turns out it was to the florist down the street, with whom I tentatively left a message. The next week, there’s a giant bag of very rustic-looking brown yarn waiting for me at work.

It took a good bit of phone tag, but I finally did talk to the mysterious Danielle. The story goes something like this: she had an animal (I’m pretty sure it was a llama) that was a pet, but it died. They had its fleece spun up into the stuff before me, and she just wanted something – a scarf, whatever – to have made from her animal’s fiber to remember it by. Fair enough. About fifteen emails later, we’d settled on a pattern, and I knit almost the entire thing over the “Weekend to Remember” marriage conference we attended at the beginning of December.

Pattern review: Double Leaf Saroyan is a fast knit, for a scarf, but I wouldn’t call it easy. It took me more than halfway through the thing to finally memorize the lace leaf pattern on the sides. This was surprising – it’s just a lace leaf, for goodness sake; haven’t I knit a dozen varieties of these? But their slanty quality, with integrated increases and decreases, was clever and precise. The pattern is free, and as such, it asks something of you – you have to be able to read charts, fudge at the end where it’s unclear, and make your own decisions about length. I did it more or less as written (twelve leaf repeats on the increasing side, one or two leaf repeats in the middle, and eleven on the decreased side), which gave me a comfortable 6′ scarf at 4 st./in. (I used what I think is worsted weight on US 10s, so it’s a fairly loose fabric.) I switched the decreases to SSKs because I am fussy, and I thought that made more sense.

Danielle was pleased with my rates, so she asked for a pair of fingerless mitts to go along with the scarf. I whipped these up more or less directly out of my head, with a familiar double leaf pattern from Barbara Walker on the back. I’m afraid they look more like scales than leaves, but they’re quite warm. Danielle was pleased when she picked it up. I still haven’t met her, though I hope to encounter her walking down the streets of Sewickley in her scarf and mitts.

Part of my payment was that I got to keep the rest of the llama yarn. And there’s a lot of it. I haven’t weighed it yet, but it’s all that beautiful chocolate brown. It’s also fairly inconsistent in terms of weight, ranging from a light worsted to a definite bulky. Also, 100% llama is not exactly soft, plus it sheds like mad.

I do wonder what I’ll be inspired to do with it. Having just watched the Hobbit a second time, I think I could make something wild and rugged and whimsical worthy of Radagast.

7 thoughts on “3 Llama Objects

  1. I heard from an Alpaca farmer that the fiber is best when the animal is under 5 years old. I learned this because I was trying to figure out why I can’t find stuff made from alpaca pelts from the States. The American farmer said this about the fiber, and that in South America, while they don’t slaughter the animals (they’re far too valuable alive), their lifespan is only about 3-5 years old, while in America, they it’s about 18-20 years. It sounds like this animal was really well taken care of and probably was around that 20 year mark. That would explain why the wool isn’t the softest. It’s also why all the stuff made from pelts, like bedspreads, are Peruvian and are labelled “baby alpaca”.


  2. How fascinating! That explains a lot… since some alpaca is really good and some is really bad! I only heard the story about it being a pet second hand, so I was never able to get straight whether it was a llama or an alpaca. It doesn’t feel *not* alpaca-like, but it’s definitely not soft. It had almost that straw-like feel, which is not unlike the little bit of llama i’ve worked with.


  3. I would agree….the alpaca yarn/fleece I’ve worked with IS soft, while llama is definitely not. I wonder why she wanted a scarf made out of it? Oh well. Perhaps it shed a lot because of its age?


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