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Topic: Characteristics of Different Fibers  (Read 1143 times)
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« on: February 16, 2009 09:06:55 PM »

I'm wondering--is there in existence somewhere on the internet some sort of explanation of the fiber properties of different breeds of fiber critters?  Like, how soft is it, how light is it, does it create a halo, is it bouncy or silky or ?  I'm curious about animals like alpaca, llama, baby camel, angora, etc. etc.  Most especially, the different sheep breeds--what is corriedale like as opposed to ramboullette (spelled wrong, sorry) or cormo or lincoln or cotswold or jacob or icelandic or BFL or CVM or etc. etc.

Perhaps if somebody is really bored, they could explain it to me?
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2009 05:51:46 AM »

I know there's a book which discusses the characteristics of wool of about 100 sheep. It's called 'In Sheep's Clothing: A Handspinner's Guide to Wool'. I'm not sure about a guide of some sort for the other fibers...I would be interested in one too.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1931499381
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2009 05:57:56 AM »

In Sheep's Clothing should be in every spinner's library as far as I'm concerned.  I've resorted to it often when buying or selecting fibers to buy.

You have to understand though, that is gives the 'norm' and not all fibers from the same breed are identical.  A lot has to do with the way the animal is cared for, it's feed, stress, et al.  Also if buying prepared fiber, the way it is prepared will have an affect on the final fiber.

I tape a lock of every fiber I've used in that book ...  it's quite chunky now!!!
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2009 07:01:51 AM »

 I know from personal experience that alpaca creates a small halo and that angora rabbit creates a rather large halo.  Angora is slippery and can be hard to work by itself, but I like spinning it straight from the rabbit.  The amount of halo also depends on the amount of tension used while spinning.  Generally, less tension gives more halo and softness to the yarn, while more tension creates a more firm yarn.
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2009 09:32:24 AM »

I also vote for In Sheep's Clothing as being an invaluable resource re: sheep breeds. 

But I am a little bored here at work, so here is some info!  Smiley 

Merino - the finest and softest of the sheep breeds.  Bred in Spain, where it was illegal for a while to export them.  Short staple length, high crimp, fast to felt.  The crimp of the merino also makes it one of the most elastic of the sheep breeds.

Rambouillet - a French breed decended from a herd of merinos either purchased by or gifted to King Louis XVI by the king of Spain.  Like merino, rambouillet wool is very fine and soft. 

Corriedale - a medium-fine wool, suitable for beginning spinners because its staple length is not as short as merino.  (Other medium-wool breeds: Finn, Polworth, among others)

Cormo - corriedale/merino cross, with qualities of both breeds.

BFL (Bluefaced Leicester) - English longwool breed with a surprisingly soft handle.  Has a slight sheen/luster, as is typical of many longer-stapled wools.

Cotswold - English breed with a long staple and low crimp, which gives the wool a wavy/curly appearance.

Lincoln - English breed with long-stapled, lustrous, hard-wearing wool.  (other long-wooled breeds: Romney, Border Leicester, among others)

Icelandic - double-coated sheep.  Outer coat is good for rugs and is hard-wearing, inner coat is next-to-skin soft.

Jacob - multihorned, primitive breed of sheep (seriously, they are amazing-looking) with spotted black/white fleece.  Medium-fine wool with some kemp (hair-like fibers) throughout (varies - depends on the individual animal).

CVM (California Variegated Mutant) - decended from Romeldale sheep, with a fleece that varies from white to brown to black. 

Course wool breeds include Scottish Blackface, Cheviot, Black Welsh Mountain, and Karakul.  Course wool is great for making rugs and very-hard-wearing outer garments.

Huacaya Alpaca - New World camelid bred for its fleece by the Inca.  Baby alpaca is free of guard hairs, which increase in number as the animal ages.  Alpaca is seven times stronger than wool and three times warmer.  Most alpaca fiber is not as crimpy as wool, so it doesn't have the "memory" and elasticity of wool and tends to drape.

Suri Alpaca - type of alpaca with a silky, lustrous coat. 

Llama - New World camelid bred by the Inca as a fiber and pack animal.  Larger than the alpaca.  Llama fleece is not quite as fine as alpaca, and is likely to have more guard hairs. 

Vicuna - New World camelid.  Its fleece is extremely fine and was once reserved for Inca royalty.  It was very difficult to domesticate, however, which is why it was nearly hunted to extinction for its fiber. Smallest of the New World camelids and endangered.  I believe vicuna fiber is still illegal to import, though their numbers have recently increased and there are a few being raised in the States. 

Guanaco - largest of the New World camelids.  Fleece comparable to the llama.  Difficult to domesticate.

Camel - sheds its downy undercoat periodically.  Camel down is very soft and fine, suitable for next-to-skin items.  Camel hair (the outer coat) is often used in the Middle East for rugs, rope, and was historically woven into a coarse fabric used for tents.  Camel down fiber has been compared to cashmere in its softness.

Cashmere goat - not actually a breed of goat, but a hair type bred in goats.   The cashmere that we know is actually the undercoat...the long guard hairs must be removed.  The undercoat is fine, very soft, and strong.

Angora goat - produces mohair, which is a long, lustrous, strong fiber.  Mohair is very lightweight and does not wrinkle or crush easily.  Teased apart, mohair is cloudlike and soft. 

Angora bunny -  Angora bunny fur is very soft, and finished items have a distinct halo.  It is very lightweight and is seven times warmer than wool.  It does not have the elasticity of wool, however, so produces a drapey fabric.

Bison, Musk Ox (Qiviut), and Yak  - like the camel, the commonly spun fiber comes from the downy undercoats of these animals.  Extremely fine luxury fiber.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2009 07:24:55 AM by nicolassa » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2009 04:53:02 PM »

Wow, nicolassa, that was incredibly helpful!  Thank you!  And thanks to the rest of you for the book recommendation.
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2009 08:39:47 AM »

Man nicolassa!  If that is what happens when you're a 'little' bored, I'd stand in wide-eyed wonderment when you were truely bored!!!
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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2009 01:15:11 PM »

oh wow! thank you Nicolassa!!  thats great!  I'm going to now bookmark this thread!  And then pick up that book and place my chunks of fiber into it like you did Cyndi!  such a great idea!
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« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2009 03:26:20 PM »

 Wink ...........I bookmarked both here AND nicolassa's blog..............L OL.............jus' in case she posts more...........I don't wanna miss it................. . Grin
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2009 07:08:36 AM »

Man nicolassa!  If that is what happens when you're a 'little' bored, I'd stand in wide-eyed wonderment when you were truely bored!!!

Haha!  Lemme tell ya, being bored at work is nothing new!  My various bosses are great, though, and let me read during the down times.  I read lots of books on fiber, naturally...second best thing to actually getting to spin at work!   Cheesy
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I have no idea what you're talking about, so here's me with some yarn on my head.

Etsyness:  http://WhirligigYarns.etsy.com

Bloggity:  http://whirligigyarns.blogspot.com
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