Natural Protein Hair/Fur Fibres
Hair fibres obtained from different kinds of animals also contribute to the fabric formation such as Musk-Ox (qiviut), Alpaca, Mohair, Cashmere, Camel etc.
Hair fibers obtained from different kinds of animals also contribute to the fabric formation. Animals hair are adapted by nature for the climate they live in. These fibers can be used alone or mixed with wool.
The principal component of hair, wool, and fur is the protein keratin. Individual hairs may be as long as 91 cm (36 in) but are usually no more than 41 cm (16 in). Thus, fibers of hair and wool are not continuous and must be spun into yarn if they are to be woven or knitted into textile fabrics, or they must be made into felt. Any hair fiber can legally be marketed as wool or bear the common English name of the animal from which it was gathered—for example, camel’s hair.
The principal hair fiber used to produce textile fabrics is sheep’s wool. In wild sheep, the wool is a short, soft underlayer protected by longer, coarser hair. In domesticated sheep bred for their fleece, the wool is much longer. Yarns made of wool are classified as either woolen or worsted. Wool fibers less than 5 cm (less than 2 in) in length are made into fuzzy, soft woolen yarns. Longer fibers are used for the smoother and firmer worsted yarns. Naturally, crimped wool fibers produce air-trapping yarns that are used for insulating materials.
Other animals used as sources of hair fibers for textiles include camels, llamas, alpacas, guanacos, vicuñas, rabbits, reindeer, Angora goats, and Kashmir (or cashmere) goats. Fur fibers from animals such as mink and beavers are sometimes blended with other hairs to spin luxury yarns but are most often found as fur pelts. Horsehair and cow’s hair are used for felts and are sometimes spun as yarn, particularly for upholstery and other applications for which durability is important. Even human hair has been spun into yarn and used for textiles.
Camel Hair (Coat Fiber)
Camel’s hair is also known as high-quality coat fiber is an expensive fiber so often mixed with wool. Protects from both heat and cold.
Camel’s hair is collected from the two-humped Bactrian camel, found from Turkey east to China and north to Siberia. Significant supplier countries of camel hair are: Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, New Zealand, Tibet, and Australia
There are five primary manufacturing steps involved:
- Collection – by shearing or molting
- Sorting – coarse hair separated from soft hair
- Spinning, and
- weaving or knitting.
Properties of Camel Hair
- Overcoats and jackets,
- blazers and sweaters,
- Paint brushes,
- Gloves and hosiery items,
- caps Carpets and
- waterproof coats etc
Angora Goat Hair (Mohair Fiber)
Mohair is a silk-like fabric or yarn made from the hair, with length ranging from 9 to 12 inches, of the docile Angora Goat. Angora Goats are mainly found in mountains of Tibet and Turkey. Today South Africa and the United States are the largest Mohair yarn/fabric producers, with the majority of Amerian mohair being produced in Texas.
Major manufacturing steps go through the following steps:
- Shearing – removing fur from the animal body
- Scouring – treating fiber with detergents
- Dehaired – separating coarse and soft hair.
Properties of Mohair Fiber
- Composed of keratin similar to wool.
- Resilient Dust repellant
- Absorbent Lustrous and silky
- flame resistant,
- Moth and mildew proof Warmth
- Home furnishings
- Wigs etc.
Cashmere Goat Hair
Cashmere (or Kashmiri) wool is wool obtained from the Cashmere goat and is also known as Pashmina.
The Cashmere (Kashmir) or down goat. From the fine, soft undercoat or underlayer of hair. The straighter and coarser outer coat is called guard hair.
The specialty animal hair fibers are collected during molting seasons when the animals naturally shed their hairs. Goats molt during a several-week period in spring. In China and Mongolia, the down is removed by hand with a coarse comb. The animals are sheared in Iran, Afghanistan, New Zealand and Australia.
Kashmiri hair is extremely warm to protect goats from cold mountain temperatures. Fibers are highly adaptable and are easily constructed into fine or thick yarns, and light to heavy-weight fabrics. Appropriate for all climates. A high moisture content allows insulation properties to change with the relative humidity in the air.
Cashmere goats are originally seen at the high plateaus of Asia. Significant Cashmere supplier countries are China, Mongolia, and Tibet. Today, little is supplied by the Kashmir Province India, from which its name is derived. The cashmere products of this area first attracted the attention of Europeans in the early 1800s.
- Soft and wool like,
- Warm and finer as compared to normal wool fiber.
- Less durable than wool.
Llamas are the cousin of alpacas, vicunas, and guanacos, and the thinking is, thought to have been bred by the South American ancients to be the all-purpose animal. With the following uses for packing and laboring, their fiber is used for garments, rugs, blankets, and the meat and hide used for food and goods.
Llama hair is obtained from an animal which looks like a camel ( 1/3 of its size). Llamas are seen in Andes mountains of South America and they are Primarily from Bolivia and Peru.
Llamas have two types of fiber-guard hair and undercoat hair. The guard hair usually grows faster, is hollow, courser and straighter than the undercoat. This guard hair tends to effect snow and rain and help to run off the water, debris tends not stick to the guard hair.
The undercoat usually is finer, with much more crimp than the guard hair. These two factors create more loft which keeps the llama warmer in winter by trapping in the body heat and in the summer allows the wind to cool the body better.
Llamas represent the preeminent pack animal and are they are exceptionally strong, willing and calm. Llamas were bred for packing about 3,000 – 4,000 BC. The structure of their feet gives them enormous agility while preventing damage to tracks.
- Brown in color
- Wrinkle resistant
- Extremely durable
Alpacas are camel-like animal found in Andes mountains in South America. Alpaca fiber, sometimes mistakenly referred to as alpaca wool, is sorted into 22 distinct colors, ranging from blacks through browns and whites, and including subtle shades of maroon, peach, and grays. Alpaca fiber can be blended into an infinite array of natural colors, including combinations that do not occur naturally. Alpaca fiber takes and retains dyes very well.
There are two types of Alpaca: Huacaya (which produce a dense, soft, crimpy sheep-like fiber), and the mop-like Suri (with silky pencil-like locks, resembling dread-locks but not actually matted fibers). Suris are prized for their longer and silkier fibers and estimated to make up between 19-20% of the Alpaca population. Since its import into the United States, the number of Suri alpacas has grown substantially and become more color diverse. The Suri is thought to be rarer, possibly because it is less hardy in the harsh South American mountain climates, as its fleece offers less insulation against the cold.
Alpaca fiber has little guard hair and no lanolin. It is unusually strong and resilient. Fabrics made of alpaca fiber are easy to care for and long-lived. These and other qualities make alpaca fiber a sought out commodity in commercial textile houses.
Properties of Alpaca Fiber
- Extremely fine with little guard hair
- Compatible with either the woolen or worsted systems
- Has excellent insulative or thermal qualities
- Rich silky sheen which has high visual appeal in the apparel industry
- Warmer than Merino wool
- More abrasion resistant than Merino wool
- Higher tensile strength than wool
- No grease, oil or lanolin and does not smell
- Does not retain water and can resist solar radiation
- Alpaca Fiber is rare – supply cannot keep up with demand for fine quality fleece
- Can be carded and blended with other natural and/or synthetic fibers
- Can be easily dyed any color without losing its sheen
- Jackets etc
Angora Rabbit/Bunny Hair
Angora hair is obtained from Angora Rabbit which is originally seen in France, Italy, and Japan and raised in China, Chile and USA.
Pure angora wool is impossible to make because the fibers are too fine and the wool will simply unravel. Angora fibers are usually mixed with other soft fibers, such as cashmere and lambswool. Angora wool tends to be very warm and is frequently used to trim sweaters or to knit hats and scarves. Angora is generally viewed as a luxury fiber, and most angora wool products are very expensive, reflecting the laborious harvesting process and the small number of producers.
Angora rabbits can be combed or gently sheared for their fur, and they have been used for that purpose in Turkey for centuries. Angora first became popular in Europe in the late 18th century, when it was popularized by the French. In the Americas, angora wool didn’t touch the popular imagination until the 20th century, when small cottage breeders began raising angora rabbits and spinning their fiber.
There are four breeds of angora rabbits, beginning with the English breed, which weighs 5 to 7.5 pounds (2 to 3.5 kilograms). The English breed produces a very large amount of fur and must be combed regularly to keep the hair free of tangles and debris. The good-natured rabbits are popular in the show, and their fiber wraps very tightly when spun, making an even and strong wool.
The French breed ranges from 7.5 to 10.5 pounds (3.5 to 4.5 kilograms) and has a higher proportion of guard hair to wool. Guard hairs take color better, and many colored angora wool products come from the French breed. The French breed requires less grooming than other breeds and is recommended for novice breeders.
The Satin breed has very shiny, soft fur with a satiny appearance. It is easy to collect and spin, and the 6.5 to 9.5 pound (3 to 4 kilogram) rabbits are favored by fiber collectors because their fur spins quickly and easily. The breed also tends to be richly colored, producing wool with high color saturation, although the all-white Satins produce fur that takes dye very well.
The Giant breed is significantly larger than the other breeds, often weighing more than 20 pounds (9 kilos). The breed most often appears in white, and its wool must be harvested by shearing because the rabbits do not naturally molt or shed. For sheer volume of the collection, the giant breed is an excellent choice for breeders attempting to produce angora fiber for commercial use.
Manufacturing goes through the process of Plucking loose hair, or Shearing or collection of molting fur.
- Baby clothes,
- Knitting and felting