- We all know that wool keeps you warm, but what is it exactly about the properties of wool that differentiate it from cotton or any other common natural fiber? To help explain what makes wool so different from almost every other material on the planet, we’ve assembled a list of seven interesting properties of wool that you may not know.
- Wool fiber: Like all other protein fibers, wool is also derived from the animal hair. Wool is mainly used as a minor blend (up to 10%) with cotton to introduce special properties to the terry fabric. Raw wool contains a wide variety of impurities, which can account for between 30% and 70% of the total mass. The impurities consist of wool grease, secreted from the sebaceous glands in the skin; suint, produced from the sweat gland; dirt and sand. Wool grease consists chiefly of esters, formed from a combination of sterols and aliphatic alcohols with fatty acids. Suints consist primarily of the potassium salts of organic acids.
- This study reports the latest research into alpaca and wool fibres. In particular, those properties that have received little attention in research literature have been examined. They include single fibre abrasion and bending fatigue, single fibre tensile properties, as well as resistance to compression behaviour. These properties are important because they affect the softness and pilling propensity of these fibres and the resultant fabrics. Clean wool and alpaca fibres were used in this study. Fibre abrasion/bending fatigue measurements were carried out using a Textechno FIBRESTRESS instrument. The resistance to compression (RtC) tests were carried out according to Australian Standard AS3535-1988. The results indicate that wool and alpaca fibres behave quite differently, even though both fibre types are of animal origin. Wool fibre resistance to compression decreases as fibre diameter increases while the opposite appears to occur for alpaca fibres. For both wool and alpaca the number of abrasion/bending cycles at fibre break increases with an increase in fibre diameter, it takes longer to break the alpaca fibres. Reasons for these differences have been postulated based on differences in fibre surface and structure between alpaca and wool.
- Softness of apparel textiles is a major attribute sought by consumers. There is surprisingly little objective information on the softness properties of rare animal fibres, particularly cashmere, alpaca and mohair. Samples of these and other rare animal fibres from different origins of production and processors were objectively measured for fibre diameter, fibre curvature (FC, crimp) and resistance to compression (softness). While there were curvilinear responses of resistance to compression to FC and to mean fibre diameter, FC accounted for much more of the variance in resistance to compression. Fibre type was an important determinant of resistance to compression. The softest fibres were alpaca, mohair and cashgora and all of the fibres measured were softer than most Merino wool. Quivet, llama, camel, guanaco, vicuña, yak wool, bison wool, dehaired cow down and Angora rabbit were also differentiated from alpaca, mohair and cashmere. There were important differences in the softness and FC of cashmere from different origins with cashmere from newer origins of production (Australia, New Zealand and USA) having lower resistance to compression than cashmere from traditional sources of China and Iran. Cashmere from different origins was differentiated on the basis of resistance to compression, FC and fibre diameter. Cashgora was differentiated from cashmere by having a lower FC and lower resistance to compression. There were minority effects of colour and fibre diameter variation on resistance to compression of cashmere. The implications of these findings for the identification and use of softer raw materials are discussed.