A shawl – one of the chosen textiles for Project 1

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Part one - Project 1

This offwhite fluffy thing is a gift meant for cold days.

It originates in the High Andes, bought by a good friend of mine on a side street in Buenos Aires in Argentina a few years back. It is made of llama wool, or so the story goes and very soft.

I have chosen it as one of the archive items for the following reasons;

  1. It is made of wool, and I see it as a fine representative of shawls
  2. It makes perfect sense for more meeting of lines
  3. Gives a sense of peace and calm
  4. It is a gift
  5. And it tells the archetypal story of manual craft, no matter the origin

Substance – initial findings

The shawl is triangular, measuring 162 cm (top width) x 66 cm (top to bottom) ex tassles.

It is made by wool, probably handspun, the yarn looks irregular. My friend told me the wool was llama, more on that later.

The colour is off-white, looks like the original colour of the yarn.

It feels a little oily and is shiny in places.

It looks wowen, shows in a place, where there is a hole in the shawl.

The tassels are made of single strands of yarn and finished with a knot, leaving a bit of straight wool. Looks like a very loose fibre has been used.

The tassels are fastened to the shawl by another knot. The tassels measure from 15-20 cm in length.

The shawl is very light weight and warm at the same time, just covering my shoulders.

  • Substance – further research

On llama wool

My friend told me the shawl was made of llama wool from Argentina, so I have been investigating that on the Internet and an interesting detail has come to light. It seems llama wool has no lanolin in it, so is suitable for people with allergies, but this goes contrary to the way the shawl feels slightly oily.

I think the shawl is made out of sheeps wool and not llama wool for the following reasons;

  • The presence of lanolin in the wool
  • Looking at single strands of wool, they twist naturally like sheeps wool
  • The production of llama wool is a lot more complicated than for sheeps wool as the llama has two very different layers of hair
  • If the shawl has been produced by local peasants and sold in a side street in Buenos Aires it is a lot more likely to be made of sheeps wool – cheaper and more easy to produce
  • When looking at pictures of llama yarn contra sheeps wool, the shawl has a lot more resemblance to the sheeps wool than llama.

So I think my friend bought sheeps wool thinking it was llama wool. Does it make a difference? Not to me – can see a marketing advantage in promoting something more exotic and special to tourists. Do I know for sure, no, and that is fine. Good process to be a bit sceptical.

References, among others





Argentinian wool producers

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