As the ancestor of the modern-day alpaca and close cousin to the guanaco, vicuñas are known as the “bearers of the golden fleece” for good reason. Vicuña is the rarest and finest hair fiber available in the world and these animals live only in the upper altitudes of the Andes Mountains. In ancient times the Inca valued vicuñas for their wool, and believed the animal was the reincarnation of a beautiful young maiden who received a coat of pure gold. Only royalty was allowed to wear this precious fiber.
Vicuña is finer than any other fiber in the world, with a micron count (the width of a single strand) measuring only 8 to 13 microns. Its warming properties come from the tiny scales that are on the hollow air filled fibers. Vicuña fiber is amazingly soft and since the fiber is sensitive to chemical treatment, vicuña yarn is left in its natural color – a spicy cinnamon shade. Each of these majestic and delicate animals produce only about four ounces of harvestable fiber each year, which adds to its rarity.
After the Spanish conquest, vicuñas were nearly hunted to extinction for their fleeces. Since the late 1960s, when the vicuñas were placed on the Endangered Species list, conservation efforts to preserve the heritage of this gorgeous animal have blossomed. By 2002 a certification process was developed to insure that vicuña fiber was legally obtained. Today, vicuñas are rounded up, sheared, returned to the wild and not sheared again for at least another two years
Windy Valley Vicuña is imported from Peru following these strict guidelines and meets all certification standards.