Camel hair

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A camel hair blazer from the American fashion label Bill Blass, 2009.

Camel hair is, variously, the hair of a camel; a type of cloth made from camel hair; or a substitute for authentic camel hair; and is classified as a specialty hair fibre. The outer protective fur (guard hair) is coarse and inflexible and can be woven into haircloth. Guard hair can be made soft and plush by blending it, especially with wool. The camel's pure undercoat is very soft, gathered when camels molt in the warmer seasons, and is frequently used for coats.

Source and geographic origin[edit]

Camel hair is collected from the two-humped Bactrian camel, found from Turkey east to China and north to Siberia. Significant supplier countries of camel hair are: Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, China, and Australia.

Gathering process[edit]

A camel can produce around 5 pounds of hair a year. The specialty animal fibre is collected by a number of methods including combing, shearing, and collecting the hair shed naturally during the moulting season. During the moulting season the hair falls off first from the neck, then the mane and lastly the body hair. The moulting season occurs in late spring and is a process that takes six to eight weeks.

Production[edit]

There are five primary steps to the production of camel hair; collection, sorting, dehairing, spinning, and weaving or knitting. After collecting the hair either through shearing or collecting during the moulting season the hair goes through a sorting method. In this process the coarse hair is separated from the fine, soft hairs. The fibres are then washed to remove any dirt or debris obtained from the collection process. The sorted and washed hair is then dehaired. This process removes the coarse hair and any dandruff or vegetable matter before it is sent to be spun into yarn and used for either weaving or knitting.

Natural qualities[edit]

The color of camel is primarily golden tan with a variance of red to light brown tones. Camel's hair is also a fibre that supplies warmth without added weight. The hair contains thermostatic properties which can protect and insulate the camel from the extreme cold conditions as well as keeping them cool in the desert. The same properties and characteristics are transferred when making fabrics woven from camel hair.

Uses[edit]

The fine fur of the camel hair are often blended with fine wool to create fabrics for men's and women's coats, jackets and blazers, skirts, hosiery, sweaters, gloves, scarves, mufflers, and caps and robes. The long coarser hair removed in the dehairing process is also used which can be made into carpet backing as well as waterproof coats that are very warm for colder climates.

Textile analysis[edit]

Although most camel hair is left as its natural tones, the hair can be dyed in a multiple range of colors and accepts the dye equally compared to that of wool fibres. The best blends of camel hair in textiles are pure camel hair or blended with wool only. It is also commonly blended with nylon to make hosiery and other knitted products. Products containing camel hair should be dry cleaned or handwashed.

Natural paintbrush bristles are derived either from the hairs of horses, squirrels, goats, sheep, bears, sables, hogs, or some combination of these. As a result, the texture, absorbency, and other properties of "camel hair" brushes vary markedly. Wooly camel hair is unsuitable for brush bristles.

See also[edit]