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 Is wool only from sheep?

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cyn Posted - 04/19/2011 : 1:30:36 PM
I thought all animal hair is wool, if not what is angora, alpaca, cashmere....just animal fiber? Sorry, I really couldn't find a spot to ask this question.
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Clara Posted - 04/20/2011 : 7:11:27 PM
The general answers have all been correct - contemporary practice is to call "wool" only that which comes from sheep.

But TECHNICALLY, according to the Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939, "The term 'wool' means the fiber from the fleece of the sheep or lamb or hair of the Angora or Cashmere goat (and may include the so-called specialty fibers from the hair of the camel, alpaca, llama, and vicuna) which has never been reclaimed from any woven or felted wool product."

The law has been updated in terms of what can be called "superfine wool" or "cashmere," mainly to protect from unscrupulous people selling something marked "cashmere" that's really just a fine Merino.

But really, in terms of day to day practices, wool = sheep.

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Jane Posted - 04/20/2011 : 1:05:00 PM
KR members have a lot to say about quiviut!. Also, all of Clara's yarn reviews are arranged by fiber content, which makes them a great source for information.

But by far the best resource in my library is The Knitter's Book of Wool. If you don't have a copy yet, you need one! Wild Fibers Magazine is also excellent.

My opinion about the original question is: Wool is the fiber that comes from sheep. Other animal fibers are... other animal fibers. For instance, when I use yak, I don't call it yak wool; I just say yak. :)


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robinstephanie Posted - 04/20/2011 : 09:07:08 AM
I hadn't heard of quiviut, so I googled it. It's musk ox; several websites say it's as soft and warm as, or more so, than cashmere, and it's Mighty Expensive. Looks wonderful. Anybody ever knitted with it?


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
Kade1301 Posted - 04/20/2011 : 06:14:55 AM
I believe I've read somewhere that in the U.S., legally, you're allowed to designate all animal hair as "wool". Except, as the other animal fibres are more expensive than sheep's wool, they are generally called by their specific name.

In France, most people consider all animal hair to be "laine". Except angora producers, who call the spun yarn "laine (d'angora)" and the raw fibres "poils" (=hair). That's usage, I don't know about the legal definitions.

Happy knitting! Klara
Milinda Posted - 04/19/2011 : 8:47:11 PM
Everything you wrote was correct, robinstephanie. And there is camel from a camel, buffalo, quivit, loads of animal fibers.

robinstephanie Posted - 04/19/2011 : 6:26:34 PM
Hmmm, well, I don't know that much about fiber, but angora is actually rabbit, cashmere is goat (combed from the belly of the cashmere goat, no less), I think alpaca is literally from an animal called an alpaca. Mohair is from goats, I think... anybody else? I know there are great fiber experts here who could contribute greatly to this.


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover

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