For thousands of years, man has farmed animals for their fur. It is believed that the first animal to be domesticated was the sheep, and we have been keeping sheep for their fiber and meat ever since then. In the new world, devoid of sheep, man domesticated the alpaca; a relative of the camel for its high quality fiber. We typically think of wool as that itchy fiber that your great aunt made you a pair of socks out of in 1993- but it’s so much more than that! Both wool and alpaca hair have numerous uses, both in the home and industry.
Wool has a bad reputation for being hot, itchy and uncomfortable, but that’s not entirely true. Many manufacturing and processing techniques can make wool soft and comfortable next to the skin. Wool also wicks sweat away from the skin, helping you stay cool and dry. It’s a highly durable fabric, so it can worn in a variety of situations, and activities. Like wool, alpaca fiber is very durable and breathable. It’s good for cold environs, due to its ability to hold heat in. alpaca fiber is also softer than wool, and requires less processing.
In addition to all this, they’re also fire-resistant. Yes, ladies and gents, sheep’s wool and alpaca fibers are virtually fire-proof. Wool is the preferred material for firefighters uniforms, and alpaca fibers meet US consumer safety standards for fire resistance. As a craftsman, I deal with hot materials frequently, whether I’m doing pyrography or welding, so it’s good to have something to keep me safe.
When I’m doing gas metal arc welding, often sparks will fly up, and hit my scalp, causing considerable pain to your truly. In response, my mother made me a special welding cap out of alpaca fiber. Now, I wear practically any time I weld. It’s protected my thinning scalp from welding sparks since.
All this is to say that while we as humans have created a number of useful synthetic fibers, natural fibers still have important application to our daily life, and really can’t be replaced.
**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.