Plymouth Yarn Royal Llama Silk
The truth is that the finest llama fiber rivals alpaca in softness. We only have a few llama yarns in the mainstream market. Cascade Pastaza and Classic Elite Montera are two that come to mind, both smooth durable single-ply yarns that blend llama with wool.
But Royal Llama Silk changes the llama yarn landscape considerably. New from Plymouth Yarn for fall 2007, this yarn has a super-smooth silky softness you'd expect from a good synthetic—you know, the kind that's too soft to be true? But if the label is to be believed, there isn't an ounce of synthetic in here. It's 60% fine llama, and 40% silk.
I opened my hank and began to wind the yarn into a ball. The yarn had the flat, lifeless feel of a yarn that was stuffed too tightly in a warm shipping crate, and then jostled for several weeks in transit. The yarn stuck to itself as if it'd been on the verge of felting—though not enough to cause any true annoyance or problem. I wanted to believe that this would resolve itself with the first wash.
Knitting was fast and easy. The sharp tips of my Denise Interchangeables did snag the yarn a few times, but I was basically able to knit by touch alone. The yarn held my fingers and allowed me to keep an even tension on both knit and purl rows.
Blocking / Washing
Another trick with yarns that have so many plies is to make sure all the twists have been balanced. If not, your knitted fabric may tilt (or "bias") in the direction of the excess twist. My swatches did not show any hint of bias at any stage in the process.
I won't say my swatches bloomed necessarily, but the stitches did relax into one another and become more cohesive. I couldn't detect any bleeding in the wash water.
After just a modest amount of friction, those loose fibers clumped together into vague clouds of llama and silk on the fabric surface. They came off with no difficulty whatsoever. More friction just resulted in more clouds. I don't know if this is more a factor of the fiber prep or the fibers themselves (perhaps uncharacteristically short?). But I'd be tempted to knit this yarn using smaller needles to tighten up the fabric and lessen the pilling.
In terms of comfort, however, Royal Llama Silk is lovely—just a faint hint of scratch on extra sensitive skin. It drapes beautifully and feels quite warm.
Considering those wearability issues, I'm pleased to see that Plymouth Yarn kept the price to a reasonable $9 per 102-yard skein. I wouldn't invest in 15 skeins for a sweater, but I would make a plush and cozy Just One More Row Chevron Shawl (which would require only 4 skeins) for $36. For these fibers, that's a good deal.
Royal Llama Silk
60% fine llama
4.5 sts per inch on US 8 (5mm) needle
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Weight/yardage per skein
50g / 102 yards
Country of origin
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
Hand wash, dry flat
Color used in review