Mirasol Yarn - Llama Una
Mirasol's Llama Una is soft and squishable, feels silky smooth to knit and crochet with, and it doesn't split easily. It excels in stocking stitch and lace patterns. The attractive haze and drape that come from the smooth llama fibers, also mean that it loses a little stitch definition and doesn't work as well for knit/purl texture patterns or cable work.
- Fiber: 100% Baby Llama
- Yarn weight: DK
- Yarn construction/texture: 4 plies
- Manufacturer's gauge: 22 sts/28 rows over 10cm
- Recommended needles: 4mm / US 6
- Care instructions: Hand wash, cool iron, dry flat
Llama fiber has fewer scales compared to sheep fiber, with the smoother surface giving a reflective sheen and a wonderful drape to the finished fabric. The llama's coat is made of two types of fiber; the coarse outer guard hairs and soft inner down coat. The guard hairs have to be stripped away, and some may be left in the yarn. Llama Una is constructed with a good level of twist and very few hairs escape the confines of the plies and need to be pulled away manually while knitting.
After a couple of rows of knitting, I was able to knit my gauge swatch without looking at my needles and without splitting the yarn as I worked. I was able to maintain an even tension and neat stitches over my stockinette stitch swatch. Using 4mm needles, I got a gauge of 24sts over 10cms before blocking, and 22sts after.
I had almost no problems with the yarn splitting while knitting the lace swatch. Blocking worked its usual magic and the swatch transformed into an attractive, drapy fabric, with well-defined and uniform lace holes and a delicate haze of fiber. A few long guard hairs, which are thicker diameter than the down coat, protruded from the swatch, which I could pull out relatively easily.
Cable and knit/purl textured stitches
Llama Una wouldn't be my first choice for a textured stitch pattern, with the smooth fibers meaning the raised stitches relax back into the fabric, while the haze further muddies the effect. Depending on the look that you're after, that might be fine for a garment with a cable pattern. For the knit/purl textured swatch, the haze, lack of elasticity and smooth fibers combine to overpower the stitch pattern, leaving it looking messy and flat.
Crocheted granny square
The Llama Una was just as enjoyable to work with when crocheting, although using a 4mm hook left the finished fabric too dense. I'd try a 4.5mm hook another time.
Washing and blocking
I washed the swatches in tepid water with a touch of detergent - no dye was lost. Once dry, the stockinette stitch swatch became more even, the lace opened up and the rib swatch stretched and relaxed.
The prickle factor
I placed 2 swatches against my neck, held in place by my jumper. I was hoping that I wouldn't have a prickle problem with this yarn. I'm fairly robust when it comes to prickle - I feel it, but it doesn't bother me. I was disappointed to find that I couldn't keep the swatches in place for longer than a few minutes. The guard hairs in a llama's coat are thicker and therefore more likely to prickle and irritate the skin, and I think there were some left in my skein. I had been considering using the Llama Una for a lace scarf, but that wouldn't work for me. I moved the swatch to my upper arm and although I could feel it there, it was warm and comfortable, so a jumper or cardigan would be no problem. However, if you're sensitive to the prickle, you may want to swatch and test before commiting to an entire garment.
Wear and tear
After vigorously rubbing the stockinette stitch swatch, loose fibers began to collect on the surface. Further very robust friction caused them to start gathering in clumps, but generally these were easy to pull away. The fabric was left with a more dense haze but not unattractive pilling. In heavy-use areas of clothing, such as where arms rub the body section, carefully clipping any excess surface fiber away with scissors would keep a garment made with Llama Una looking good.
Disclaimer: This yarn was not provided free of charge. At the time of writing, there are no affiliate or advertising links to this yarn on YarnSub, though there may be in the future.
Review by Wendy Peterson, on 4 November 2014