squishy but not squid

alpaca is really an incredibly lovely fiber. i find it so soft and a joy to spin. of the 16 colors available i've sampled 6; white, light fawn, dark fawn, dark rose grey, light grey, and dark grey. thus far the browns feel softer and loftier than the white and greys (but not really by all that much, at that).

i've been collecting undyed unspun fiber specimens the last few months so that i have samples on hand to touch and examine when choosing fiber for spinning and weaving projects. i've also come to discover they're an important tool to educating myself on different fibers when you're shopping, or have an unidentified fiber in front of you. i've become very familiar with the samples i have and so it's gotten quite easy to identify fibers based on feel, smell (yes they have distinct smells), length, thickness, and color.

there are two boxes with 25ml jars: one cellulose fibers, and one protein fibers. the protein collection is nearing a somewhat complete state, with a few missing (anyone have any byssus they're willing to part from?). the cellulose fiber box is a little empty, but i'll remedy that when i order another habu sample book this coming december and place the older sample sheet offerings in their labeled jars.

what i've discovered is that vicuna, cashmere, bison down, are the softest, followed by guanaco, camel down, and alpaca. i found mohair and qiviut to be the springiest and least soft. i'm still on the shelf about the qiviut as i'm not 100% sure of the authenticity of the sample i have. i'm in need of new zealand possum (the ones not killed by poison), angora, pygora, and yak samples (the one yak i have is a blend of yak/tussah).

the silks are in a category all their own, they're just amazing; so soft and such sheen! i have cricula coccoons, muga silk, red eri silk, eri silk, tussah silk, bombyx silk, and both tussah and bombyx noils.

in the cellulose box there are 14 shades of color grown cotton from peru, pima cotton, organic cotton, and flax. i'll be adding nettle, ramie, hemp, pineapple, kenaf, kuzu, pine, zenmai (fern cotton), milkweed, and washi paper as i come across them. the milkweed fiber from the pod might be an issue as they don't grow in the south. any cellulose fiber i may have missed? i've left out soy silk, milk protein, corn, and seacell as they require too much processing to manufacture, so i'm a little leery about their environmental impact (actually come to think of it, i'm not really fond of bamboo for pretty much the same reason).

why no wool, you may ask? well...one, there are way too many breeds that collecting samples of them all would be quite a task, and two, i really don't like spinning wool. not at this point in my life. especially when you have soft alpaca to spin; no felting, degreasing, or lanolin to deal with!

p.s. if anyone reading this can help me out with small samples of the fibers i'm missing, i would be incredibly thankful! it's always nice to come across other fiber fanatics like me!


  1. an amazing amount of work. If you email me your mailing address I'll send you hemp (Chinese) and shifu paper and spun yarn.

  2. really!!! that would be amazing! thank you!

  3. checking in after a long time--i can send you a milkweed pod and some stem fiber--email me--

  4. emailing now, thank you very much!

  5. Dear Anastasia, do you know this blog? It is about byssus, maybe the lady can give you a little sample.
    There is also a Byssus museum in Sardegna.


  6. wow! i hadn't come across this page before, it looks interesting. i will try contacting her, hopefully she understands english, as i don't know a word of italian. thank you for this link!