LYS Stop: Yarns Down Under For Vicuna, Guanaco

Vicuna by Jacques Cartier is a yarn made from the “rarest and finest hair fiber available, lighter, softer and warmer than any other” (yes, that includes qiviut and cashmere), a fact pointed out by Sheila Carlson, owner of Yarns Down Under (YDU) of Deep River, Connecticut. It is said to be the most expensive yarn in the world; one (available at the shop) costs $300.

Three cakes of luxurious yarns available at YDU. AGH/MDK

A vicuna is a doe-eyed camelid, the wild ancestor of the alpaca. One animals produces only about one pound of fiber each year; half of that is usable.

Vicuna CC by A. Buisse

Vicuna near Arequipa (cropped) by Alexandre Buisse (Nattfodd), CC BY-SA 3.05

“Vicuna wool is sensitive to chemical treatment so it is left in its natural color – a spicy cinnamon. The vicuna is the wild ancestor of the alpaca. It lives in herds on the slopes of the Andes Mountains at elevations between 12,000 and 18,000 thousand feet. The vicuna is very shy and because of this the animal is left in a semi-wild state,” according to the yarn brand listing on Ravelry.

So. Guanaco by Windy Valley Muskox. Jacques Cartier Qiviuk Yarn. Vicuna – these are three top-of-the-line luxurious and indulgent yarn cakes; and priced accordingly. Imagine one of these specially wrapped as a gift for hours of pure knitting pleasure. The shop also carries brands such as Cestari, Rowan, Debbie Bliss, Blue Sky Alpaca; Berroco, Green Mountain Spinnery and others – plus patterns, magazines, books, needles (of course), and related supplies.

Yarn skein by Cestari Sheep and Wool Company of Virginia accompanied by two knitted bears – one with a tiny sweater – and perfect soft baby booties. The pink yarn skeins are Manos.

The shop is conveniently located off Route 9 at 37C Hillside Terrace – to “find the answers to your knitting questions” is something they are known for. Closed Monday; for information call (860) 526-9986 or visit