Hello everyone! Tara here—
It’s time we talk about yarn made from the fibers of other animals.
Some of these fibers are incredibly common, but you may not expect them to come from the animals they come from.
Cashmere is a fiber that most people covet. It’s what makes that $200 sweater that feels like it was made with clouds (sometimes it’s $500). It makes an incredibly warm, breathable fabric that can be moisture-wicking. It isn’t as warm as other wools, but it’s so much softer and it’s idea for wearables.
Mohair yarn comes from Angora goats and is almost as highly adored as cashmere. It’s seen with knitting more than crochet (for now), and it has a gorgeous halo that gives any hat, scarf, or garment the softest touch. Mohair is strong, durable and moisture-wicking. It doesn’t felt like most other wools and, because it’s so much softer than regular wool, it’s typically recommended for people with sensitive skin.
Alpaca yarn is fairly common to find. It has so many incredible properties and is soft to the touch. It’s flame-resistant, water-resistant and hypoallergenic. So you can use alpaca yarn even if you have a wool allergy! It’s warmer than most wools and the fiber is strong too. The halo found on this yarn helps make every project made with it look so much cozier than regular yarn does.
Llamas are larger than alpacas and there are a few different kinds of llama yarn you can find. Some is on the more course side, much like standard wool, but you can also find soft llama yarn now too. The yarn is light because the fiber is hollow, and it’s incredibly warm. Like alpaca yarn, it’s flame-resistant and hypoallergenic. It’s antimicrobial, so it doesn’t hold smells. It stays warm when it gets wet and it doesn’t stain as easily as most other fibers.
Most yarn that’s made with camel hair comes from Bactrian camels. The hair isn’t shorn like sheep because you can just comb it out and, like any animal, babies have the softest fur so the yarn made from baby camel hair is something to look out for. Camel hair makes yarn that’s soft, light, and ideal for projects that you wear. The temperature-regulating aspect would be wasted on any kind of project that isn’t being worn. It will felt, like any wool, but it doesn’t felt as easily.
Guanacos are much smaller than alpaca and are found in South America. The wool is incredibly warm and as soft as cashmere. It’s also water-resistant, dirt-resistant, durable, and light-weight. Because they’re so hard to find and they’re so small, this yarn has a hefty price tag on it.
Vicuña and Guanacos are very similar. The Vicuña was nearly extinct for a while, though they aren’t any more and their wool is the most expensive on this post. Their wool is softer than cashmere. The fiber itself is fairly strong too, but, because of how hard it is to get, most won’t risk damaging the fibers by dying it. The wool is warm, with more almost no halo.
Angora wool doesn’t come from the Angora goats like mohair does. It comes from Angora rabbits! The fibers are hollow and light, with moisture-wicking properties. Like Mohair and Cashmere, it’s known for being incredibly soft and is considered a luxury fiber.
You can make yarn from your dog’s hair (or fur)—it’s called chiengora. They type of yarn you make and the properties it has really depends on the type of dog you have. Usually, yarn is made from long-haired dogs that are known for their shedding. Some of the most common breeds are Chow Chows, Samoyeds, Huskies and Malamutes, Newfoundlands, and Retrievers.
Before you do anything with it, you have to wash the fur. It has to be done incredibly carefully and usually more than once to get rid of dirt and the wet-dog smell. After that, you can move on to carding the fur and spinning your yarn.
Yarn made from dogs is typically haloed like mohair. If the fur is light (like fur from Samoyeds), it can even be dyed like a silk or wool would be. It has zero stretch to it and can become weak pretty quickly and it really isn’t that durable. It is supposed to be wonderfully warm and light-weight though.
Yarn made from a bison’s undercoat is supposed to be just as soft as cashmere. The fiber is hollow, making it lighter than wool, while still keeping the warmth you would expect from a wool. Even after it gets wet. It’s hypoallergenic and anti-microbial and growing in popularity as a fiber for a reason.
#6- Musk Ox
Musk ox wool, also called Qiviut wool, is incredibly hard to find on the market. When you do find it, it’s even harder to avoid crying when you see the price tag. It’s said to be softer than cashmere, but just as light-weight due to the fibers being hollow. It’s also said to be warmer than the average wool because the musk ox live in colder temperatures than most animals that produce wool (they’re from the artic, so you can find them in Alaska, Northern Canada, and Greenland). The yarn is not supposed to shrink or felt when it’s exposed to heat or agitation and won’t hold smells. It’s also said to be great for people with sensitive skin.
Yak yarn is a relatively new option out on the market. It’s incredible soft and warm, and more durable than you would expect. Like wool, it has antimicrobial properties so it doesn’t hold smells, and it’s moisture-wicking. It’s definitely a fiber to keep an eye on!
What’s your favorite fiber? Let us know in the comments below!
– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine