Monday, October 27, 2008

Yarn Type List...

Here is a short list of yarn types:


Alpaca fleece is harvested from two types of Alpacas: the Huacaya
and the Suri. The Huacaya alpacas produce soft, crimpy, dense fibers while the Suri produce silky fibers that resemble un-matted dread-locks. Its fiber is light-weight, silky, and full of luster. The Suri breed is favored over the Huacaya due to its longer length and silkier locks.
As a natural fiber it is similar to sheep's wool, however, it is much warmer, not as prickly, and lanolin free, making it hypoallergenic but not water resistant. Its physical structure greatly resembles that of hair, very glossy, but its softness and fineness allows spinners to easily produce satisfactory yarn. Alpaca fiber ranges from 18-25 microns is considered the best quality.

Colors vary from true black all the way down to rose-greys. White is the predominant color because  of selective breeding and is generally dyed many other colors.


Angora wool, also known as angora fiber, is produced by the Angora Rabbit. Angora wool and mohair are often mistaken,  however, mohair is produced by the Angora goat (see below) instead of the rabbit. Angora is prized for its soft, silky, and "halo" (fluffy) textures. It has a noted low micron count, meaning it 
consists of considerably thin/finer fibers. Angora between 12-16 microns in diameter are considered the best quality. These are taken from the back and upper regions of the rabbit and are usually the cleanest (vegetable and hay free) and longest fibers. "Second class" fibers are sheered form the neck and lower regions which may contain some vegetable matter. The "third class" fibers are shorter and removed from the buttocks, legs, and/or any other areas that are seen to easily felt. Finally, the "fourth class" fibers are essentially anything else left on the rabbits body that is badly stained and/or felted, and thus deemed un-salvageable. Breeders practice daily brushing so as to lessen the matting of the wool and increase the portions of usable wool. Because the fibers felt so well on their own they provide an excellent source of  felting material.

There are four main types of recognized rabbit breeds that produce angora fibers from their bodies: French, Satin, English, and Giant. Many other breeds do exist, but the most common is the German. Perhaps the neatest thing about angora rabbits and goats is that, according to the breed, they have the ability to naturally produce wool coats of various black and white color shades.

Furs are produced in Chile, the United States, Europe, and China. They are harvested up to four times a year by process of "plucking", "shearing" or collecting the molten fur. Plucking essentially pulls out the molten fur, minimizing the presence of guard hair, and effectively conserving its quality. This method is times consuming and some producers prefer shearing instead. Although faster, the process of shearing reduces the quality of the fur since all guard hair is included. In order for plucking to be possible the rabbit has to be a breed that will molt. An example of an angora rabbit breed that does not molt is the German breed.


Mohair is the silk-like yarn that's made from the hair of the Angora goat. It has a diameter of about 25-45 microns and is one of the oldest textile fibers today. This diameter increases with the age of the goat, meaning that finer fibers will be harvested from younger goats, and less finer fibers harvested from older goats.
 For example, fibers coming from young goats are used for clothing, while fibers form older goats are used for carpets, rugs, etc, etc. Shearing is done twice a year and a single goat can  produces up to 17 lbs of fiber each year. 

It's durable, resilient, stretch, flames and crease resistant, and takes dyes very well. It's mostly noted, however, for its luster and sheen. It is mostly composed of keratin, and has scale like wool that, although not fully developed, and merely illustrated. This is why it will not felt as wool does.

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