Natural Fiber Lingo

Like all industries and hobbies, the world of knitting has it's own unique vocabulary. To the non-knitter, statements like "I lost my yarn chicken!" or "Has anyone seen my UFO?" might come off sounding a little odd. But to us knitters, it all makes sense. Like knitting as a whole, natural knitting has it's own special lingo. Let's check out a few examples;

"bactrian"

Bactrian camels are the double humped species, most often thought of when people think of camels. Their fiber is also the most commonly used for yarn production.

"bactrian"

Bactrian camels are the double humped species, most often thought of when people think of camels. Their fiber is also the most commonly used for yarn production.

"carding"

The process of separating locks of fiber into thin, straight layers, to prepare for spinning. Most carded fibers are spun in the woolen style

"brushtail"

A type of possum, most common in Australia and the kind most frequently used in the production of yarn.

"chulengo"

The spanish name for a baby guanaco.

"calf"

The young of certain species, including bison, muskoxen and yaks.

"cria"

The name for a baby alpaca, llama or vicuña.

"crimp"

The crimp is the natural waves and kinks in fiber. Different fibers have lower or higher levels of crimp, making some more preferable for certain applications than others.

"felting"

The process of joining fibers, usually through agitation and water, to make the fibers “felt”, so they cannot come apart. Wools are especially good for felting, unlike cottons, silks and synthetic fibers which resist felting.

"dromedary"

Dromedary camels are the single humped species, less commonly thought of than their relatives, the Bactrians, which produce the hair used in most camel yarn.

"fleece"

The coat obtained from a wool-bearing animal, such as a sheep and obtained through the shearing process.

"elasticity"

Elasticity refers to how much stretching a fiber can endure, without breaking, while still returning to its original length when released.

"guard hair"

The course, often water-repellent fibers that form the outer coat of many animal fleeces.

"huacaya"

The coarser of the two kinds of alpacas, distinguished by its shorter hair and more stocky build.

"lanuda"

A subtype of the woolly Tampuli llama, known for its thick fleece.

"huarizo"

A llama/alpaca hybrid. The term is usually used in a derogatory manner.

"medullated"

Medullated fibers are those with a central core. The cortical cells that make up the walls of the fiber are wrapped around a medulla (core) of cells. These cells may contract or disappear, forming air pockets which assist insulation.

"lanolin"

Lanolin is an oily substance, which sheep and other animals exude from the sebaceous glands in their skin. It is also found in cosmetics.

"molt(ing)"

The natural process common in sheep and other animals of shedding their fiber at a certain time of the year, most often in the spring.

"pashmina"

The finest type of cashmere wool, coming from certain goats raised around the Pashmina region of India.

"skirting"

The process of removing unusable portions of fleece, such as belly fleece or areas contaminated with manure.

"polled"

Polled sheep are those not having horns, either naturally or through selective breeding. 

"staple length"

The length of individual fibers.

"roving"

Fiber which has been washed and carded, but not yet spun. Roving can also be used for thrummed knitting.

"suri"

The finer of the two kinds of alpaca, distinguished by its long, flowing locks.

"tampuli"

A woolly llama species, consisting of two sub-species; the tapada and the lanuda.

"wari"

A llama/alpaca hybrid. The term is usually used in a derogatory manner. (see also Huarizo)

"tapada"

A subtype of the woolly Tampuli llama, known for its thick fleece.

"woolen"

Woolen is a type of yarn made from carded wool. Woolen yarn is soft, light, stretchy and full of air. It's a good insulator and makes a good knitting yarn.

"tui"

An alpaca younger than 1 year old, or one before the age of its first shearing.

"worsted"

Worsted is a type of yarn in which the fibers are combed to lie parallel rather than carded, producing a hard, strong yarn. Worsted may also refer to the yarn weight known as “worsted weight”.