Yea!! I’ve just knitted my first llama scarf. Your initial reaction might be, “llamas are already wearing a heavy fur coat, what do they need a scarf for?” Silly you. These are scarves made from the llama fiber. Over the 10 years that we’ve had our llamas, we’ve sent their fiber out to mills to have it processed and made into product. We sell these items in our barn gift shop, mainly to our customers that come for a llama trek. They really love the idea of taking home a souvenir of their llama experience that is made from the fiber of “their llama”. In the past, we have done socks, rugs, scarves and mittens. We have been very pleased with all of these products with the exception of the mittens. These and the scarves were done by a small independent mill. We had about a dozen pair of mittens made, most in ladies size small, and about 5 pair in mens size large. The smaller mittens were acceptable and we sold them, but the large ones were ridiculously misshapen. We found them to be highly humorous, and we kept one pair as a memento. They never fail to send us into peals of laughter every time we look at them. And for that, I guess they were worth the money. The mill owner, however, failed to see the humor, or our point for that matter, and insisted that his knitters had done a superbly professional job, and there could be no fault found in the mittens. He angrily assured me that HE would have no problem selling those mittens. So I took him up on is offer, and told him that he was more than welcome to them.
But back to the scarves. Of all the items that we have had made over the years, the one thing that we wanted to sell again was scarves. But we had had such harsh treatment from the scarf and mitten guy that we didn’t want to do business with him again. I searched in vain all over the web for a mill that would process the wool and make scarves and found nothing. We needed the scarves to be machine knitted in order for them to be affordable enough for us to resell them and make a small profit. To have someone hand knit scarves would be prohibitively expensive.
I am not crafty with yarn and needles. When I was an impoverished college student back in the 70’s, a good friend taught me how to knit a basic stitch so that I could make a birthday scarf for my then boyfriend, my now husband. It must have not turned out too bad, in spite of the fact that the scarf started out 10 inches wide and grew to be 14 inches wide. He married me anyway, and still wears the scarf when he’s plowing snow. Shortly after we married I tried my hand at crochet and made an afghan with granny squares. It, too, turned out well, but I didn’t enjoy the process. I was much more into macramé, crewel, embroidery, even had a stint with stained glass. But yarn wasn’t my bag.
Failing to find an outside source to make scarves for me, I decided last winter to send a year’s worth of our llama fiber to a mill to be made into yarn, and I would learn to knit and make my own scarves. There is a recent revival of an ancient craft known as loom knitting. This is done on a loom that consists of 2 parallel lines of pins. Each pin functions as a knitting needle. The unique thing about the loom is that it makes a double knit fabric. There is no wrong side. If you look on the inside of a sweater, you will see the back side with the purl stitching, and all the knots and loose ends. None of this shows with the knitting loom because all of that is hidden on the inside of the fabric.
I dropped off my fiber in January, and was told that it would probably be 8 months before the yarn was ready. I had plenty of time to experiment with my new loom, so I started making scarves with store bought yarn. Unexpectedly, the llama yarn was ready for pickup in May, so I got right to work on the prototype llama scarf. The yarn is a product of the combination of all my llamas’ fiber, ranging in colors from white to brown to black. The result is a lovely shade of heather brown. After many hours later, I am proud to say that I have completed my first llama scarf. I’m right pleased with the result. I have enough yarn to make about a dozen and a half scarves. The real test will be whether I have the stick-to-itiveness to get them all done.