Alpaca fibre is harvested from a group of animals biologically known as the South American Camelidae family, which consists of four types of llama: Alpaca, Llama, Vicuña, and Guanaco. Alpaca yarn is ideal for producing a hard-wearing and very light garment, with great insulating properties. The alpaca (Vicugna pacos) is a South American mountain animal, principally found in Peru and Ecuador, smaller numbers are also found in the northern parts of Bolivia and Chile. There are two types of alpaca. The huacaya (pronounced wua'ki'ya) produce a dense, soft sheep-like fibre with a uniform crimp. The suri (pronounced soo'ree) have silky, pencil-fine, mop-like locks. Suris make up the remaining 20% of the population and are prized for their finer, longer fibres. Both types are highly valued. Fibre from the huacayas is known as alpaca fleece, while the fibre from suris as alpaca suri. Alpaca farming is of low impact to the environment and therefore an interesting alternative for some sheep farmers
Cashmere is a goat fibre. Goats are from the Caprinae subfamily of the Bovidae family of animals, and are relatives of sheep. The domesticated goat is a subspecies of the wild goats of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. Most goats have the capability to yield fibre; however, the most important fibre-producing goats are the cashmere and angora goats. Cashmere goats originated high up in the plateau regions of the Himalayan mountains. The local Kashmiri population span the fibre from the goat's downy undercoat, weave it into the fine fabric and make it into shawls known as pashmina. Cashmere is not a breed of goat, but a description of a goat that has been carefully bred to produce a fine downy undercoat, the cashmere fibre. The cashmere fibres are very adaptive and can be spun into either fine or thick yarns to produce light or heavyweight garments. Cashmere is, weight for weight, warmer than wool. An important and luxurious fibre, global cashmere production is believed to be around 1% of the total textile market, putting into perspective its uniqueness. The fibre is harvested in Mongolia, China, Iran, Afganistan, Australia and New Zealand and sold to Italy, Japan and Scotland - the three principal countries renowned for sophisticated and innovative cashmere spinning, knitting and weaving
Cotton is a soft fibre that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant, which is grown between latitudes 45 degrees north and 35 degrees south. In tropical climates cotton is a perennial crop. Typical untreated cotton has a matt lustre, soft and smooth touch. Cotton garments have a good level of moisture absorption. Dyed cotton retains its colour longer if washed in warm or cool water. Mercerized cotton is a treatment applied to the cotton to give it a more lustrous and smoother appearance
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Slowly but steadily there are now a growing number of farmers moving towards a more organic, ecologically sound and socially sustainable method of production.
Organic agricultural methods rely upon crop rotation and the use of natural enemies, such as ladybirds, to suppress harmful insects, rather than the use of agrochemicals, artificial fertilizers and other toxic-persistent chemicals
There are over 200 varieties of wild silk moths from all over the world that naturally produce silk. The much-prized filament is produced by the Bombyx mori moth pupa. Silk is extraordinary strong in relation to both fibre dimension and perception of its delicate nature. It is stronger than wool or cotton and weight for weight is stronger than steel. Its isothermal properties make it feel cool in summer and warm in winter. Silk yarn is highly prized for its lustre and shimmering appearance, a result of the fibre's unique triangular, prism-like structure that allows the garments knit from it to refract incoming light at different angles