With the cold weather we’ve had lately, it’s obvious that fall is on its way! Now’s the time to take out your yarns and scarves to bundle yourself up; it’s important to keep toasty warm and keep yourself healthy. But what’s the difference between all those types of wool anyway?
Alpaca–silkier and warmer than sheep’s wool, alpaca wool is hypoallergenic and doesn’t have the same itchy texture as sheep’s wool. Alpaca wool is also difficult to ignite, and is naturally water repellent.
Angora–made from the fur of angora rabbits, angora wool is warmer and lighter than the average wool, and is known for its thin fibres, fluffiness, and softness, and is distinct from cashmere and mohair. Because angora is not very elastic, it’s typically combined with wool, which also lowers the price of the commercial product being made.
Cashmere–deriving from the cur around the neck of Kashmir goats, cashmere is a soft, luxury wool that is light, strong, and fine in texture. Cashmere wool also has very good insulation, making for some excellent, comfortable winter gear. Cashmere is the most commonly used luxury wool, and Uniqlo happens to have a sale on cashmere sweaters right now!
Merino–Merino wool comes from merino sheep, and is regarded as one of the softest and finest sheep wools. Merino helps regulate body temperature and wicks moisture away from the skin while retaining heat, and also has good heat retention.
Mohair–also considered a luxury fiber, mohair comes from the fur of angora goats (not angora rabbits!). Mohair has high luster and sheen and is often added to other fabrics to enhance those qualities in a product, and is also naturally durable, resilient, and like merino, wicks moisture from the skin. This means that mohair can keep you cool in the summer as well. Mohair is also naturally elastic, flame resistant, crease resistant and does not felt.
Vicuna–the most expensive of any luxury wool, this fiber can sell from $1300 to $3000 a yard! Coming from the fur of the endangered vicuna, vicuna wool is rare. The wool can only be shaved every three years, and the animal must first be caught from the wild. Vicuna wool is very warm, and finer than any other wool in the world, it does not take well to chemical treatment and is usually left in its natural color. The Peruvian government has put programs in place to ensure survival of the vicuna, and to prevent exploitation of villagers who produce the wool.
Sources: Good Housekeeping, Wikipedia