Camel hair (WK)

The camel, an animal that easily reaches a height of 2-3 meters with a weight of more than 400 kilos, usually lives in flocks of twenty and can be found in all of Central Asia.

The production of camel yarn comes mainly from China and Mongolia and in minor quantities from Egypt and Iran. 

A coat of camel hair is composed of a mane soft underwool or down hair on the belly of the animal. Each year the camel moults and begins to lose its hair in spring. The hair is obtained by combing using very small combs. The fleece is fine and soft, slightly curly and beige coloured. 

Baby camels, until they reach the age of one year, are blonde, almost white and their hair is extremely soft and highly prized, while the coats of adult camels are mainly reddish or light brown in colour.

The protective outer coats of fibre may grow as long as 40 cm but is very coarse; the fine, shorter fibre of the insulating undercoat is 3 to 12 cm long, with an average fineness of between 17 to 23 microns.

The coat of camel hair has excellent insulation properties; it is warm and comfortable and is used for manufacturing outdoor wear and knitwear garments. 

The coarsest coat of hair is that of the dromedary, which is used only for inner linings.

Llama wool (WL)

Llama, the largest South American camelid, lives in the Andes, in Peru and in Bolivia. The largest concentration of lamas are to be found in Bolivia, approximately three million, which corresponds to roughly about 85% of the world population of Llamas.

The animals are shorn every two years and their hair classified according to its fineness and its colour, usually white, brown and black. The undercoat is very fine, soft, slightly curly, and warm with exceptional insulating properties. It reaches a fineness that varies between 22 and 26 microns, whereas the outer coat much coarser and can reach a length that varies between 13 and 26 centimetres.

It is used to produce highly valued knitwear, jackets, coats and blankets.

Alpaca wool (WP)

Belonging to the camelid family, the Alpaca lives in the same region as the Llama but the largest population of these animals lives in Peru. Its fleece is externally rough and long but very fine, woolly and soft in its undercoat where the fineness of the fibre, slightly wavy with considerable lustre, is approximately 14 microns. The length of the fibre can vary between 8 and 15 centimetres.

The shearing is done between November and March and yields about 2.5 kg for each female and about 4 kg for each male.

The coat produced by a baby Alpaca (called a Cria) is even more sought after for its brilliance and lustrous qualities and is obtained by the first shearing of the lambs, which is done at the age of one year. The fleece contains no lanolin and is therefore hypoallergenic, and non-pilling. It can be white, beige, grey, brown and black, although its natural colours can be more than twenty.

Vicuña wool (WG)

The vicuña is a camelid that is native to Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, and was decimated after the Spanish Conquest by over hunting because of its highly regarded wool fibres. It is now specie that is at risk of extinction and for this reason the trade of its fleece is subject to strict restrictions. The animals, which live freely, are captured and sheared, and then set free again after shearing. At present there is estimated to be about 180,000 exemplars that live mainly in Peru at high altitudes of between 4,000 and 6,000 meters. The tracking of vicuña products is guaranteed by CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species).

Regarded as "the fabric of the gods" by the Incas (XIII-XVI century), it was reserved exclusively for the members of the royal family. The vicuña has an exceptionally fine and lustrous undercoat, measuring just 12 microns in diameter, and is therefore the thinnest of all the animal fibres that can be spun. Its particular characteristics of softness make it the most highly prized of all the fibres in the world of textiles. An adult vicuña produces approximately 250 grams of fleece every two years (a cashmere goat produces approximately 250 to 400 grams a year). It takes the fleece of 25 to 30 animals to make one overcoat, and a pullover requires about six. The fleece is a light cinnamon colour, slightly clearer around the chest area.

Angora goat mohair (WM)

Mohair is the name given to fleece taken from the Mohair or Angora goat. It is a domestic breed of goat raised in Turkey, South Africa and Texas. The shearing of these goats occurs twice a year and produces a long silky haircoat, slightly curly, with a white-yellow colour, and doe not pill easily.

It reaches an average fineness of between 24 and 60 microns and the length of the fibre varies between 15 and 25 centimetres. Mohair has become highly valued due to its ability to accept dyes; in fact the colouring is long lasting and particularly resistant. The renowned Kid Mohair is the hair sheared from young Angora Goats and is more valued and is used in garments of higher quality.

Yak hair

The outer coat of hair of the Tibetan bovine known as the Yak, is very long and bristly, the downy undercoat however is valued for its fineness that is between 15 to 9 microns. For this reason it is used as a substitute for cashmere. The undercoat is collected in spring by grooming the animals (de-hairing).

Angora rabbit (WA)

The Angora rabbit, which has a thick robust body covered with a long and soft fur known as wool, produces the highly prized Angora wool or Angora fibre. The major producer of this fibre is China, but is widespread in all of Europe and East Asia. The length of the fibre varies between 3 to 6 centimetres.

The shearing, which is done every three months (four times a year), produces approximately 250 grams of wool which is extremely fine and light and has excellent heat and humidity absorption, this is especially true of the undercoat wool. With the surface hair of the so-called “giarra” rabbit, one obtains the classic prickly or bristle effect in garments to which it is added.

Cashgora goat hair

This is a new breed of goat obtained by crossbreeding an Angora or Mohair Billy goat with an Australian grazing goat. It is very similar to the Cashmere goat and is raised in New Zealand and Australia. The wool of the Cashgora combines the advantages of cashmere and mohair, maintaining the softness of the first and the brightness and sheen of the second. 

This fibre, medium fine, bright and white in colour, reaches a length of approximately 11 centimetres and its fineness is between 18 and 22 microns.

Cashmere goat (WS)

The production of cashmere is concentrated in the region of Central Asia, particularly in Iran, Afghanistan and Outer Mongolia even if unquestionably, the most prized and sought after quality comes from Inner Mongolia. A region mainly composed of arid plateaus, bordering the Great Wall of China and the Gobi desert and part of the Peoples Republic of China.

In this area, situated at an altitude of one thousand meters, the temperature range between winter and summer reaches up to 60 °C, with winter temperatures reach up to -30 °C. It is this particular climatic context that makes the undercoat of the so goat soft and downy.

The wild goats "Capra hircus aegragus" and "Capra Falconeri" are the ancestors of the current domestic goats from which cashmere is obtained, robust and hardy animals that can resist the low temperatures, and males can develop a height at “withers” that varies between 35 and 60 centimetres. To protect it from the cold the goat develops a very open fleece with long and relatively coarse hair. However the most precious part is that under the upper fleece an undercoat called a duvet, soft and silky. 

The fleece is mainly white, which is the most valued, but there are other tones of colours that range from brown to grey and red. The length of the fibre that composes the duvet varies between 20 to 40 millimetres and 12 to 19 microns of fineness. Chinese cashmere, considered as the finest found in nature, develops an average micron value that is between 14 to 15 microns.

The insulating power of cashmere is considered to be ten times that of wool. The goats live in the wild and are guarded by a large group of Mongol shepherds who round up the flocks in the month of May when the fleece begins to moult, so as to be able to perform the operation of shearing-combing, which yields a down that is composed of duvet and ordinary fleece. After transportation to the collecting centres, the fibre is subject to a first selection based on its fineness, its colour and “sorting” (separation of the duvet from the coarser fibre). Each goat produces annually between 150 to 200 grams of duvet and it is estimated that there are more than 15 million animals that produce cashmere in the indicated regions.