Clothing labels sometimes say things like “Merino wool” or “Alpaca” but what do they actually mean by these terms? In fact, “Wool” includes natural fibres from many species, not just from sheep.
Merino, Alpaca, Mohair, Angora, Cashmere, and Camel Hair are some of the most frequently used on clothing tags. It is more difficult to find other less common wools, and sometimes very costly. This is what’s in the name here:
Camel Hair It’s made out of a camel, as you would imagine. A camel’s undercoat is incredibly soft and fine, which makes it a good choice for clothes. The best isolation of all wools is given by camel fur, so it is generally used for coats. It’s relatively weak, though, and can be worn easily.
Qiviut This taupe-grey coloured fibre is as soft as cashmere, derived from the Alaskan domesticated musk ox. It is eight times colder, though it weighs the same as sheep’s fur. In sweaters, scarves, gloves, and caps, you will see it included.
Vicuna, the most costly of all speciality wools, sells from $1,300 to $3,000 per yard for everything. If you’re fortunate enough to afford it, however, you’ll encounter the softest and finest of fabrics. As the Peruvian government has strict harvesting and exporting rules for vicuna, it is also one of the rarest.
The source of this soft and common wool is Merino Merino sheep, known for having softer coats than others. On one end of the fibre, it draws or “wicks” moisture away from the skin and repels exterior moisture on the other.
Alpaca This fine silky fabric produced by the alpaca is colder than sheep’s wool. In sweaters, jackets, gloves, scarves, and even upholstery, look for it.
Mohair This lustrous fibre is the Angora goat’s fur. Mohair fibres, like merino, are moisture-wicking and strong insulators, but they have more light, which makes them more appealing to fabric. It wears better than sheep’s wool as well.
Llama The llama makes a fibre that glistens naturally. While they are alpacas-related, llamas have coarser and weaker fibres. But, without being too big, they do offer good warmth.
Angora This heat-retaining fibre is made from the fur of the Angora rabbit and is suitable for warm clothing. It’s very easy to wear because it’s lightweight as well as fuzzy.
From cashmere. Like mohair, cashmere comes out of a goat’s fur, the goat of Kashmir. Soft to the touch so that it’s a pleasure to wear, it’s also quite capable of keeping you wet. The most common kind of fine wool used in clothing is cashmere.
Just Cashgora. This hybrid wool comes from a Cashmere Buck and an Angora Doe crossbreed. You’re going to find it better than mohair, but less than cashmere.