About two years ago, not long after moving to Bloomington, I was googling pure llama yarn with the intention of making a scarf for my friend Molly. We’ve known each other since I was five, and long ago, we wrote a parody of a romance novel together called “The Mark of the Llama.” Molly happens to be allergic to wool, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to sample some exotic fiber and also make her a nice little in-joke of a present.

This was before Mirasol Miski and Elsebeth Lavold Baby Llama came on the scene, so it was a little hard to find something suitable–most of what I was finding was wool-llama blends, like Cascade Pastaza. One of the first hits that came up when I searched for “100% llama yarn” was Yellow Wood Llamas (or maybe it was their web store, Farmhouse Fibers), run by Fred and Laura Keller. When I looked at their site, I noticed that they were located in Martinsville, just north of Bloomington, so I inquired about the possibility of coming up to their farm to pick up my purchase (and meet the llamas) rather than having it shipped down. Laura and I emailed back and forth for a while but never managed to get the dates worked out, and the idea fell by the wayside.

Well, recently, since Rahul finished his master’s, it dawned on me that Molly was probably finishing her graduate degree as well, so I’d better get cracking on that present for her. I contacted Laura again and we finally set up a date for llama-viewing.

Thus it was that last Friday, Kalani, Elli, and I spent a gorgeous summer evening driving up to Martinsville to hang out with a pack of large furry animals. I loved the visit so much, I think my new life plan involves owning a llama farm at some point. They have so much personality and charm, I love their gigantic golf-ball eyes and long eyelashes, and their fur is soft and silky as can be.

We went into the backyard, past their pond bordered with honeysuckle and yucca plants, and home to fish, snapping turtles, and pesky muskrats, and as we started up a hill towards the pasture, a little herd of llamas ran up to the fence to see what we were doing. (There are dozens more of them, but the males almost all live in on a separate plot of land across the road.) I thought that might be it–interaction across the fence–but no, they took us through the barn and into the midst of many friendly and curious llamas. Cooper (or perhaps his name was Hopper?), a seven-month-old male, was especially friendly and spent so much time breathing into our faces and giving us kisses and nibbles that Laura took him away and put a muzzle on him so we would have some breathing room. Here he is, getting in Kalani’s personal space:

Michele is their ambassador llama, an incredibly good-natured and friendly creature. We spent a lot of time giving her back scratches and cuddles. She was very fond of Elli.

This enclosure was home to all the outcast camelids. In the back we have Phantom, aka Paco, the lone alpaca in the herd. In the front, Lewis, the spunkiest, toughest little llama ever. This guy has had a very hard life–born blind, he later broke his leg very badly, had it set with pins and plates to hold it in place–and then the leg got infected, so he spent a lot of time at the OSU veterinary hospital being patched up and tended. You can read more of his saga on the Yellow Wood blog.

On this side of the barnyard was also a three-legged llama–I forgot his name, but he got tangled up trying to jump a fence when he was a baby, and injured his leg so badly it had to be amputated.

He seems pretty good-natured about it now, though.

Here are more gratuitous llama photos (and more here):

And if you click on the picture of Paco below, you’ll get to see a video of an adorable inter-species greeting:

So we spent a good long time showering attention on the llamas and asking all kinds of questions, then we stopped in the barn where we saw a pregnant barn kitty:

and Kalani got to feed a llama named Captain Curry, and then we went into the house, where we were confronted with a beautiful room full of yarn and fiber. I didn’t think to take a photo of the room-o-fiber, but you can see me wallowing in yarn in Kalani’s post.

Here’s what I got:
A 1.4 oz. drum-carded batt of silky, glossy, jet-black fiber from a llama named Kona (this picture came out much too brown):

4 oz. of roving from our buddy Michele:

Super Silky sportweight in Plum, a delicate rose-pink semi-solid:

Super Silky sportweight in Lily, a beautiful turquoise/teal. This is destined to become a lacy scarf for Molly, probably Branching Out:

A skein of naturally colored dark brown sportweight shot through with green and orange angelina sparkles:

All of it is silky soft and beautiful, and I can’t wait to work with it. If you’re interested in buying some yourself, you can do it through the Farmhouse Fibers website. Of the yarns I didn’t end up buying, the Phantom alpaca-silk blend (made from Paco’s fur!) was especially tempting, as was the Sassafras worsted weight.

Fred and Laura’s business is primarily online, not brick-and-mortar, so I really appreciated their taking the time out to host us crazy, obsessed knitters for a few hours on a Friday night. It was really a wonderful field trip, well worth the 40-minute drive, and the handspun yarn from Michele’s coat will be one of the best fibery souvenirs of Southern Indiana I could possibly take with me when I move.