Monday, January 28, 2013

Camel Fiber * part one

After reading more than one baby camel factoid page about this fiber being "thermostatic" , I started to wonder what that really meant.Turns out that camels can withstand heat and cold, so their downy undercoat is marvelously suited to keep them cool in the heat and warm in the cold. How it does this is not really discussed.
Apparently baby camel down is shed naturally in the spring months and gathered by hand. The best baby camel down comes from Bactrian camels (2 humps) in outer Mongolia. It is also comparable to cashmere in its softness (micron size).
Baby Camel has a warmth and strenghth to it that i find very appealing and lovely to wear. Cashmere, as much as I adore it, can make you very hot very quickly.
Baby camel, on the other hand, seems to have more wicking ability, strength, resistance to pilling, and lightness that makes it quite a "Natural Wonder".We have become quite blaze' about rare materials these days, after all, as spinners we can have and find pretty much anything we want. Organic cotton in cultivated natural colors, cashmere fiber, vicuna, Quiviut, to name a few. Baby camel is not so exotic and hard to find, but it is an under-appreciated fiber.
Baby Camel handspun yarn , undyed, available in my shop

The WILD Bactrian camel is also critically endangered.
"Although domesticated bactrian camels number in the millions, there are less than 1,000 wild camels left in their native range in Mongolia. "

"Camelhair is the soft warm inner down of a Bactrian camel with a fiber structure similar to cashmere. Bactrian camels have two coats: the warm inner coat of down and a rough outer coat, which is long and hairy. Camels shed their fiber in clumps consisting of both coats. One camel produces about 5 pounds (2 kg) of fiber annually. The down is usually 1-3 inches long with a micron count of about 15-22 microns. It has a staple length of over 2 inches, which is quite long for camel. Camel wool has unique characteristics of heat conductivity, softness and strength, and it does not felt easily." - Reference: Peace of Yarn 

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Page Two

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