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A LOT OF INFO ABOUT THE ADORABLE ANIMALS THAT PROVIDE WOOL
Below is much more information than you will probably ever need to know about wool unless you're doing a school project. However, I hope you find it as fascinating as I do!
What is Wool?
Wool is the fiber derived from the specialized skin cells, called follicles, of animals in the Caprinae family, principally sheep. The hair of certain species of other mammals such as goats, llamas, and rabbits may also be called wool. Wool has several qualities that distinguish it from hair or fur: it is crimped; it has a different texture or handle; it is elastic; and it grows in staples (clusters).
Superfine Merino wool is of excellent color, soft handling and dense, with a fiber diameter of 18 microns. Staple length is about 70mm
Medium Merino wool is a heavy fleece which is soft handling and of good color with a fiber diameter of 20-22 microns. Staple length is approximately 90mm.
Romney wool is of variable quality and often coarse.
Texture is hard. Staple length is often lacking in sharp crimp formation. Length is 150-200mm. Fineness 33 microns.
Crossing Lincoln rams to Merino ewes produces Corriedale. It's a heavy-cutting thick staple fleece.
The fiber diameter range of 25-32 microns makes it very bulky, high yielding wool. Staple length is approximately 150mm.
Border Leicester is soft, lustrous, with a staple formation that is round in form, broad at the base and tapering to a well defined pointed tip. Fiber length is 200mm and over 32-38 microns.
Lincoln has very thick staples, rather rough appearance outside. It's golden bright color and well-defined crimp throughout creates a wonderful luster. Length of staple is 200mm and over. 38 microns.
Angora (rabbit) wool or Angora fiber refers to the downy coat produced by the Angora rabbit. While their names are similar, Angora fiber is distinct from mohair, which comes from the Angora goat. Angora is known for its softness, low micron count (i.e. thin fibers), and what knitters refer to as a halo (fluffiness). It is also known for its silky texture. Angora rabbits produce coats in a variety of colors, from white to black. Good quality angora fiber is around 12-16 microns in diameter, and can cost around 10 - 16 dollars per ounce. It felts very easily, even on the animal itself if the animal is not groomed frequently. The fiber is normally blended with wool to give the yarn elasticity, as angora fiber is not naturally elastic. The blend decreases the softness and halo as well as the price. The fibers are hollow giving them a floating feeling.
Cashmere (goat) wool, sometimes called Pashmina, is obtained from Cashmere goat. It has a fine texture, and is strong, light, and soft. Garments are much warmer than an equivalent weight in sheep's wool.
Chiengora yarn is spun from dog hair. The word is a portmanteau of "chien", French for dog, and "angora." It is up to 80% warmer than wool and is not elastic. It is often blended with sheep wool during the carding process. This blend has some give to it, which is preferable when knitting. It is also often blended with wool in order to create a yarn with less heat insulation.
Dog hair has been found in yarns dating to pre-historic Scandinavia, and in textiles from the Navajo Indians of North America. It was the main fiber spun on the Northern American continent before the Spaniards introduced sheep. Now it is rarely used except by hand spinners with pet dogs.
Chiengora looks similar to Angora and is furry and very soft. It tends to "fluff" with use, creating a halo effect. It is warm, even in frigid temperatures, and is sheds water well.
The llama (Lama glama) is a South American camelid, widely used as a pack animal by the Incas and other Andes Mountains natives. In South America llamas are for fiber and meat. Llama fiber is very soft and naturally lanolin free.
The height of a full-grown, full-size llama is between 5.5 -6 feet at the top of the head. They can weigh 280 - 450 pounds. A newborn (a cria) can weigh between 20 - 30 pounds. Llamas are very social and like to live as a herd. They're intelligent and can learn simple tasks after a few repetitions.
Llamas appear to have originated from the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago.
The Alpaca (Vicugna pacos) is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in superficial appearance. Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of Ecuador, southern Peru, northern Bolivia, and northern Chile at an altitude of 3500 to 5000 meters above sea level, throughout the year. [Citation needed] Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, alpacas are not used as beasts of burden but are valued only for their fiber.
Alpaca fiber comes in more than 52 natural colors as classified in Peru, 12 as classified in Australia and 16 as classified in the United States. Alpacas and llamas differ in that alpacas have straight ears and llamas have banana-shaped. Llamas are 1-2 feet taller and bigger than alpacas. In the textile industry, "alpaca" primarily refers to the hair of Peruvian alpacas, but more broadly it refers to a style of fabric originally made from alpaca hair but now often made from similar fibers, such as mohair, Icelandic sheep wool, or even high-quality English wool. In trade, distinctions are made between alpacas and the several styles of mohair and luster.
IWTO is the international body representing the interests of the world's wool-textile trade and industry. Membership covers woolgrowers, traders, primary processors, spinners, weavers, garment makers and retailers of wool and allied fibers in its member-countries, as well as all kind of organizations related to wool products and the wool business in general. (above text is of the GNU Free Documentation License).