Last updated on October 23rd, 2022
Young children can be pretty curious about the world around them, and you cannot avoid their questions by giving incomplete answers.
I learned this the hard way when my nephew asked me the difference between regular and Angora wool.
Of course, I gave him the wrong answer and told him that Angora is probably a breed of sheep as all wool comes from sheep. But I was soon corrected by my ten-year-old nephew.
He told me that Angora wool is a combination of wool that comes from the coat of Angora rabbit and Angora sheep.
What I was calling ‘normal wool’ comes from the coat of the Merino sheep. Well, I stood corrected! But what caught my attention was that there are other animals that produce wool. Here is a list of some such animals.
Animals that give wool:
- Angora rabbits
- Salish wool dogs
List of animals that give wool:
Sheep indeed produce nearly ninety percent of the wool required by the world. The fleece can be easily sheared from a sheep’s skin, and it is this fleece that is converted into wool.
There are several breeds of sheep that are reared for their fleece. For example, the Texel and the Dorset are the two common breeds of sheep reared for wool production.
Their fleeces are primarily used to make wool fibers converted to fabrics.
The Merino, Rambouillet, Blue-Faced Leicester, and Corriedale are other sheep reared for their excellent quality fleece which you can convert to wool.
But these breeds are usually reared to produce fine-quality wool fibers.
For example, the wool produced by Rambouillet and Delaine-Merino is ideal for making close-body knitwear and delicate knitwear garments.
The fleece of goat is used to make luxuriant wool that we know as cashmere.
You must have heard of cashmere coats and shawls and must have wondered why these garments are so expensive.
One of the reasons is that some of the most expensive woolen fibers are produced by goats. Cashmere is a fiber made from the fleece of cashmere and Pashmina breeds of goats.
These woolen fibers are known for their luxuriant quality, and the garments made using these fibers are known to last for a long period of time.
Similarly, the mohair extracted from Angora goats is often called the ‘diamond fiber’ in the textile industry because of its distinctive sheen.
This fiber is often combined with other expensive fibers to create a fabric with a unique luster.
Alpacas are known for their soft and luxurious fleece.
This unique camelid mammal can produce fleece that can be converted to woolen fibers and fabrics to be knitted into almost any type of garment.
In other words, you can have sweaters, socks, gloves, coats, and even beddings made from alpaca wool.
The versatility of the wool made from alpaca fleece makes it one of the favorites of farmers who raise animals for their fleece.
Alpacas can also produce a significant amount of fleece in a year. For example, a mature Alpaca can produce five to ten pounds of fleece in a year.
Thus, most farmers feel that raising Alpacas can be pretty lucrative.
Llamas like alpacas are domesticated camelids that are sometimes used as animals that carry loads.
Llamas and alpacas are confused with being the same creatures because of the similarity in their appearance.
But the fleece that you get from Llamas cannot be converted into wool in the same way that you can do with the fleece of alpacas or goats.
Once extracted, the fleece of a Llama has to be converted into is converted to suitable fibers.
But before you can convert it to a fabric, it has to be combined with woolen fibers extracted from other animals.
The unique feature of Llama fiber is that it is incredibly soft and lanolin-free. This makes the fiber ideal for making handicrafts, rugs, wall hangings, and even specific garments.
5. Angora rabbits
Angora rabbits are bred for their luxuriant fleece, making the beautiful Angora wool.
This woolen fiber is not just luxuriant and expensive but is also known to be long-lasting.
Sometimes the fleece of the Angora rabbit is harvested when the creature molts, which happens three or four times a year.
But breeders often extract fleece from the rabbits with the help of clippers and scissors.
The fleece extracted from Angora rabbits is converted to woolen fibers.
These are combined with other fibers such as cashmere and Pashmina to produce the woolen fabrics that we commonly associate with the expensive Angora garments.
The blending of the Angora wool with other woolen fibers helps in adding an extra softness to the fabric.
6. Salish wool dogs
The Salish wool dogs were rare breeds of dogs that would produce wool, like Angora rabbits.
These dogs were also excellent pets, and you could easily convert their fleece into yarn.
The spinning of yarn using the fleece of the Salish wool dogs was a household activity carried out by the women living in the villages of the Pacific Northwest’s coastal regions.
The Salish wool dogs were native to this region.
However, with the colonization of the region and the development of the State of Washington and British Columbia, the population of these dogs began to decline.
By the 1900s, the Salish wool dogs were extinct, and the culture of spinning woolen yarn using fleece at home.
When you think of sustainable materials, you have to think of fibers extracted from animals without hurting the creatures.
At the same time, you can extract significant quantities of fleece from the creature.
For example, if you have observed the shaggy coat of the American bison, you must have seen that the coat primarily consists of fleece that provides the creature with insulation from cold.
This fleece can be used and converted into woolen yarn like fleece extracted from sheep or Angora goat.
Moreover, studies show that the fleece of the American bison is similar to that of the Angora goat.
This means you can create quite soft and luxurious yarn from the fleece.
Experts also mention that the fleece is a natural insulator, which means the wool you will create from bison fleece will be as warm as cashmere.
Rams produce a significant amount of fleece, and you can convert this into woolen fibers.
Compared to ewes, rams produce significantly more fleece and hence, woolen fibers, given the fact that rams are larger than ewes.
Moreover, when you think of rams, a luxuriant curly fleece coat is the first thing that comes.
A merino ram can produce three to six kilograms of fleece in a single shearing.
Sometimes farmers prefer to breed sheep instead of rams as ewes are easier to manage than rams.
As a result, the wool that you make from the fleece of ewes is sometimes more luxuriant than rams.
But increasingly, farmers tend to raise rams for their fleece because the yield per ram is higher than ewes.
This makes raising rams commercially viable for farmers as the production of wool per herd per year increases.
The vicuna is a South American camelid found in the Alpine regions of Peru.
An animal with a long neck, this unique creature produces a soft quality fleece that can be spun into one of the finest quality wool.
The wool made from vicuna fleece is one of the most expensive for two reasons.
One of the reasons is that the creature can be shorn only once every three years, which makes the wool’s availability extremely limited.
Secondly, you cannot breed vicuna, and the creature has to be caught in the wild.
Thus, it can prove to be quite challenging to get vicuna fleece from which you can make the wool.
Presently, the vicunas are protected species as they fall under endangered animals. The vicunas do produce wool but cannot be considered commercially viable.