Have you knit with chinchilla? I have not, but it’s something I will have to try. Creature Comforts has some knit kits ready to go.
Chinchillas are rodents native to the Andes, and their pelts long clothed the Chincha people of the Andes (hence the name “chinchilla”). Their pelts entered the international fur trade in the 1500s, and by the 19th century chinchillas had been hunted to the brink of extinction. One species is extinct; the two remaining are near extinction as they are subject to illegal hunting. Domesticated chinchillas are bred for their pelts; it takes about 150 chinchilla pelts to make a coat. Currently Argentina is the leader in chinchilla breeding.
Chinchilla fur is warm and dense – so dense that the animal does not bathe in water but in dust. On average, 60 hairs come from each follicle (which explains the density). Their fur is double layered (coarse and fine), and it is the fine hair that spinners seek. There are two ways to obtain the hair: (1) picking up the loose hair at the breeding farms, or (2) brushing (or shearing) your pet chinchilla. If you brush or shear a chinchilla, you will get between 16 and 20 grams of fur from one animal.
Before you go out and buy yourself a chinchilla, be sure and read up on their care and feeding. 🙂