Fiber Info - Hamptons Yarn Handspun Handmade Spinning Long Island New York
This page is a list of fibers I
currently have available in my stock for yarn spinning. This is NOT meant to be
a comprehensive list of fiber types whatsoever. I have experience working with
and spinning the fiber types listed on this page. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
to inquire about any of these fibers and which colors I have. I do not sell raw
Longwools are types of wool that typically have long staple length (between
6”-18”), high luster and shine, and are extremely durable and stand up to
excessive wear and abrasion. They are not necessarily the softest on skin, but
of course there are exceptions. Longwools work wonderful for rugs, tapestries,
bags, heavy jackets, coats, sweaters, and heavy duty socks. Many of the breeds
listed below have English heritage, however, their history traces farther back
to Roman times as well. As they are not popular in commercial yarns, many
longwool breeds have become rare and endangered.
Blue Faced Leicester
Commonly abbreviated as BFL is among the most popular types of wool. It is a
durable longwool with long staple length and luster but has an amazing softness
which is counter-intuitive.
Medium wools are the most common types of wool in commercial yarns. Many times
the textile industry will source wool from several closely-related breeds and
blend them together for wool sweaters and the like. Handspinners describe medium
wools as downy, cushy, springy, elastic, and somewhat soft (some types are
softer on skin than others). Medium wools make wonderful sweaters, cardigans,
socks, and other outerwear items.
Fine wools are arguably among the most popular wool types today. Modern living
demands do not show needs for durability and strength, but rather comfort and
softness, therefore softer wools have been picked over resilient longwools. Fine
wools are extremely soft on skin, have the shortest staple length (1.5”-4.5”),
and can be the trickiest to spin for inexperienced spinners. They cannot
withstand wear and abrasion from everyday working life and will pill and tear if
abused with excessive heavy use. They are typically chosen by handspinners for
lace yarns used to create heirloom shawls and lace masterpieces.
ALPACA AND LLAMA
Alpacas are camelids imported to the United States from South America just
several decades ago. There are currently a few hundred thousand alpacas in the
United States. Alpaca fiber is highly coveted due to its warmth (it is three
times warmer than wool), softness, hypoallergenic nature, and rarity. Alpacas
could be considered close relatives to llamas, which have slightly different
physical characteristics, a different coat (llamas are typically double coated
and have a thick layer of coarse guard hair covering the softer undercoat), and
temperament (alpacas are animals which need to be protected from predators and
other threats, while llamas are actually used to protect herds of livestock due
to their highly protective personalities). Unlike wool, camelid fibers have
little elasticity and memory, meaning that they stretch out over time and will
affect the shape of the finished piece (whether woven, knit, or crocheted). This
is why they are commonly blended with wool in fine yarns.
About 90 percent of the alpacas residing in the United States are
considered to be Huacaya (Wuh-cah-yuh) Alpaca. Huacaya alpaca is fine, soft, and
very fluffy. It typically has noticeable crimp.
Suri Alpacas constitute about 10 percent of the alpaca population in the United
States. This fiber is very rare and is said to be the closest animal fiber to
silk. It is extremely lustrous, shiny, dense, and has excellent drape. It is
also very soft and hypoallergenic like huacaya alpaca.
A cria is a baby alpaca. They have the softest and finest fiber compared to
Llama fiber is silky, dense, and warm; however, it is preferred much
less by handspinners and the textile industry due to the excessive guard hairs
present in llama fiber. Guard hairs are extremely coarse, thick hairs which
provide extra warmth and insulation to the animal. They must be picked out by
hand from the fleece prior to spinning, and this process is known as de-hairing.
Even after most of the guard hairs are picked out, llama fiber is not typically
soft-on-skin and remains slightly prickly.
Paco-vicuna is a newly developed fiber type in the United States which is
intended to mimic the fiber of the Vicuna. The Vicuna is a wild counterpart of
the alpaca which resides in the Andean Regions of South America, and it is
illegal to import them to the United States since they are considered wild.
Their fiber has been reserved for royalty since Incan times and is used in
high-fashion to make suits and scarves. It is among the softest, finest fibers
in the world and has extremely short staple length. Paco-Vicunas have been bred
to mimic these fiber characteristics although they are not wild animals. Paco-Vicuna
fiber sells for between $35.00-$90.00 per ounce, depending on the color and micron
count. Some even prefer vicuna fiber over cashmere. This fiber must be specially
Mohair is fiber which comes from goats. The two main types of goats which
produce soft fiber suitable for textiles are angora goats and cashmere goats.
Mohair is NOT hypoallergenic, however, is very shiny, lustrous, and soft. It has
limited memory and stretches out over time. Mohair is usually blended with fine
wools for this reason in yarn and textiles.
Cashmere comes from the cashmere goat which is native to the Kashmir Region in
what is now India/southern Asia. Since then, Cashmere Goats have been imported
to many foreign countries and maintain their popularity due to their shiny,
soft, silk-like fiber in textiles and yarn.
A kid is a baby goat. Kid mohair comes from any goat under 1 year old, and is
the softest, cleanest and finest at this age.
Orenburg is a region in southwestern Russia. It is infamous for its openwork
lace shawl handspun and hand-knit from the down of the local Orenburg Goats.
Orenburg Goats are rare outside of Russia and fiber is usually imported by lace
spinners. In Russia, Orenburg down is hand-spun on spindles and plied with silk
to make a two-ply gossamer yarn, used to create the gorgeous lace shawls,
recognizable by their distinctive halo and traditional knitted motifs. This
fiber must be specially ordered and is not in stock.