Monday, February 4, 2008

Fun Fiber Facts

When it comes to wool or fiber the diameter in micrometers is the best objective way to measures softness. Here's a list of the softest fibers in the world:

1. Down hair from the Tibetan antelope called the chiru (9-12 micrometers). This fiber is so fine it can only be woven by only a handful of very skilled weavers. It's most often woven into a shawl called a Shahtoosh. Because the antelope is endangered and multiple animals are killed for one shawl, it is illegal sell or even own a Shahtoosh in the US and most developed countries.

2. Fiber from the South American Vicuna (12-14 micrometers). These animals are the wild versions of domesticated alpacas. They like alpacas are herd animals and have only one baby per year. An ounce of certified vicuna fiber retails for about $250 in the US.

3. The undercoat from the Angora rabbit (12-16 micrometers). These rabbits must be groomed once or twice a week or their fine hair mats and felts. The fiber cost 10-12$ per ounce.

4. The undercoat from the Cashmere (Kashmir) goat (14-18.5 micrometers). The majority of Cashmere these days comes from China it cost about 12-15$ per ounce.

5. Qiviut is the undercoat of a muskox (15-22 micrometers). It's said to be stronger and 8x warmer than sheep's wool. Interestingly, this wool does not felt or shrink! Qiviut sells for anywhere from 40-60$ per ounce.

6. Fiber from domestic Alpacas (18-29 micrometers). Alpacas are raised all around the world including the US. The animals have sold for as much as $500,000 in the US. The fiber sells for about 4-8$ per ounce.

7. Sheep's wool (20-35 micrometers). Sheep's wools is sold for as much as 1$ per ounce. "Specialty" or "Hand painted" sheep's wool can sell for as much as 5$ per ounce. And here is the rest of it.

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