Help, I have just begun spinning but nobody in my guild spins llama or alpaca. When spinning my llama the yarn appears beautiful, but when knitted or crocheted it becomes so dense you could make armor out of it. Any tips you could give me would be greatly appreciated. I own four llamas and three alpacas and want to use their fiber.
A: Llama or alpaca fiber, is best when considered like cotton or linen fiber. Since it lacks the crimp and spring of wool, it is harder to use without careful consideration of the knitting or crocheting styles.
The yarn can fuzz out as you use it and you can allow some room in the stitches for that, but since it has no memory, you need to search for stitches that are stretchy by themselves. If you are a beginning knitter, the garter stitch and seed stitches are good for adding stretch to the fabric.
If you are good at lace knitting, then a fine spun alpaca can be very luxurious. It has the advantage of not closing up the holes that you put into your lace work.
If you want a more regular knitting yarn size, spinning very fine and making a 3 or 4 ply will put air inside the yarn between the plies. It still won't have much stretch but it won't be as dense.
If you are crocheting, work with a larger hook and "size" each loop by tightening it on the thick part of the shank then resisting pulling the loop smaller as you work with it. That takes some mental concentration when you first start, but can be very effective, since the body of the yarn will help to hold open the loops later.