12 Wool Blends that You Will LOVE (from Alpaca to Qiviut)
Have you ever looked on the inside of a woolen sweater, and found “wool blend” on the label? Sometimes, wool is not 100% pure wool, and there are many benefits to using wool blends!
Wool blends can increase the favorable characteristics of two different fibers. They can either make a product more economical (animal fibers blended with man-made fibers), give it better breathability (wool blended with cotton), or increase its aesthetic value (wool blended with silk).
The possibilities for wool blends are endless, and there are many things to consider when combining Mother Nature’s gifts.
Alpaca Wool and Bamboo
Speaking of Mother Nature… I love a strong, durable, sustainable wool blend that brings comfort to a new level! Any material that uses alpaca wool and bamboo will be strong, soft, comfortable and will have all the great features of alpaca wool.
Alpaca wool is highly breathable, is lightweight and very soft. By adding bamboo to alpaca wool, you create a blend that is even more moisture-wicking and even lighter than alpaca wool in itself.
Bamboo is a great fiber to start with (when sourced responsibly!!!) and is one of the “new” fibers that will hopefully bring people to a more sustainable wardrobe. Bamboo is antibacterial, insulating and soft - and for those who have read my article: What Are the Qualities of Alpaca Wool?, you might remember that those are pretty similar to the features of alpaca wool.
Long story short, alpaca wool and bamboo enhance each other's perfect features, especially in terms of appearance. Bamboo is a lustrous fiber that drapes well - making it look appealing on the body. Although, this goes for scarves and shawls, not so much for sweaters (read more Fiber Facts in an article on Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies).
Best uses for Alpaca Wool and Bamboo:
Socks (Check out these ones from Warrior Alpaca Socks - they look so comfy!!)
Shawls and scarves
Baby Alpaca Wool and Organic Cotton
A wool blend with baby alpaca wool and organic cotton might be my personal favorite. Especially when it is all organic, making this combination extra durable and sustainable.
Alpaca wool in and of itself is already sustainable because the animal barely leaves an environmental footprint and there is less water needed during the production process of alpaca wool compared to sheep wool for example.
Want to join the green revolution? Learn more about alpaca wool and Why Alpaca Wool is Sustainable in this helpful article I wrote!
Cotton is known for its breathability and softness. It is one of the oldest plant-based fibers in the world known to be used for clothing. However, the downside of cotton is that it is not very warm. And that’s when alpaca wool makes everything better!
By combining baby alpaca wool with cotton, you get a garment that is incredibly soft, highly breathable and super warm. This combination also gives you other benefits of alpaca wool in general, like being wind and water-resistant.
Best uses for Baby Alpaca Wool and (Organic) Cotton:
Summer sweaters and clothing for moderate environments
For baby accessories and clothes (Check out these Baby Blankets made with Baby Alpaca Wool & Organic Cotton - COMING SOON!)
Alpaca Wool and Silk
For an exclusive look, go for a wool blend of alpaca wool and silk! The combination of these two highly lustrous fibers will make you look fabulous. And without leaving you hanging in the cold.
Silk is known to be (one of) the most lustrous animal fibers out there. Praised for its natural gloss and shine, it is a highly valued fiber. On top of that, silk drapes fantastically, which means that it naturally falls and fits well.
While silk is highly breathable and works like an isolator and insulator at the same time (silk is often used for thermal underwear!) the wool fibers still win the warm-fiber-competition. By blending silk with wool fibers, you will increase the warmth it will bring your body.
Another benefit of “silk wool” is that it decreases the prickliness and itchiness that wool can cause for some people. If you take a baby alpaca blend, you are even less likely to feel any prickle at all (compared to sheep wool - which might still cause a slight itch!)
Luckily, wool (and especially alpaca wool, and especially, especially baby alpaca wool) are praised for their luster. By combining silk with alpaca wool, the warmth of the fabric increases, without losing its shine.
Best uses for Alpaca Wool and Silk:
Loosely knitted tops and sweaters
Luxury items that require draping
Baby Alpaca Wool and Merino
SUPER fluffy, extremely soft, very warm, and super breathable. And strong! Wow! A baby alpaca and merino wool blend basically has it all!
Both wool fibers are top quality of their category and either of them compete for softness, warmth and breathability.
The downside of baby alpaca wool is that it is slightly less strong than merino wool or mature alpaca wool. Baby alpaca wool also lacks crimp and resilience, making it less elastic than merino wool.
On the other hand, merino wool does not wick away moisture as well as alpaca wool does, and it might hold water longer.
By combining the two fibers you really get a top-notch wool blend, that has only benefits!
Best uses for Baby Alpaca and Merino Wool:
Fluffy sweaters and cozy scarves! (Click the link to see my empowering and sustainable products here at Yanantin!)
Wool and Polyester/Rayon
Many wool blends exist to cut costs in the first place. In the second place, they exist to make items more washable. Really!
Wool - and especially 100% alpaca wool - requires hand washing. Despite its amazing features of being stain and odor resistant, the washing process can be labor-intensive and delicate, as it is best to wash wool by hand.
For the busy bees among us, you probably don’t want to be spending hours soaking woolen items, draining them, rinsing them, drying them, all manually. While I personally think it is worth the try, I can see an argument being made to make woolen items that are machine-washable.
Any wool blend with polyester or rayon can increase the washability of a product. You will probably need to make sure that you read the washing instructions per item, as they can still be different depending on the percentage of wool that is used.
Make sure to look for a 70% wool part, though. As you’ll find that some have as little as 10% wool in them, and that won’t contribute much to the benefits of wearing wool at all.
On another note, you could see if there are any sustainable blends available that use recycled PET or (real) environmentally friendly versions of rayon. Both polyester and rayon are debatable fibers, as the production process can be highly chemical and devastating for the environment. Luckily more and more alternatives are emerging!
Best uses of Wool and Polyester/Rayon:
Clothes that require being washed often (I’m thinking big families and busy moms!)
Baby Alpaca and Fine Highland Wool
In love with baby alpaca, but finding it a little pricey? Understood. Another budget option wool-blend is (baby) alpaca mixed with Fine Highland wool. Fine Highland wool comes from Peruvian highland sheep (I bet you thought Scotland, right?), which is already a blend of Merino sheep and Corriedale sheep.
Peruvian highland sheep brings the best of both worlds: it combines the strong, yet cheap fiber of the Corriedale, with the soft and frizzy fiber of the Merino. Now, combine that with (baby) alpaca and you have yourself a winner for a reasonable price :)
Best uses of Baby Alpaca and Fine Highland Wool:
A budget-friendlier version of any alpaca woolen garment
Alpaca Wool and Linen
Linen is a natural, plant-based fiber. It is incredibly breathable and strong, making it the perfect material for summery nights and in-between seasons. The downside of linen is that it is not very warm and does not absorb water well.
If you combine linen with a material that is warm and does absorb water well, like alpaca, you get an incredibly versatile wool blend that is perfect for all four seasons. Alpaca wool plus linen is also soft and silky, it gets the stretchiness of wool, but without the pilling and less of the wrinkles. Like all linen garments, it will get softer over time.
On top of that, the combination of two durable fabrics makes it even more durable! And that is a double win for our planet!
Be careful to look for organic linen to make sure that its production process is compensated for accordingly (linen is pretty labor-intensive and requires some manual labor!).
Best uses of Alpaca Wool and Linen:
This might sound weird, but this blend is great for rugs! (perfect to regulate the temperature)
Merino Wool and Qiviut
Qiviut, which is the down from a musk ox, is, according to Reactual, the warmest fiber in the world. It is also incredibly rare and therefore a tad little bit expensive. Fair enough - as the musk oxen are hand combed to obtain the down. This fiber is totally organic, animal friendly and natural. It’s a keeper :)
By combining merino wool and qiviut, you keep all of those great features, and you can even add more warmth to a garment made with this blend. It also adds memory (from the merino), while maintaining warmth and softness (from the musk ox).
A garment made of a merino wool and qiviut blend is a super warm, fluffy, strong, winterproof item. And a little bit less expensive than 100% qiviut :)
Best uses of Merino Wool and Qiviut:
Extremely cold environments
Qiviut and Silk
Take the most lustrous type of fiber that you can imagine. Now, blend that with the warmest fiber you can imagine. A wool blend of qiviut and silk is probably one of the most luxurious combinations of fibers you can find.
Both fibers are extremely lightweight, and soft. They are durable and will not shrink or felt. Beware, an item made of this wool-blend might be a little bitty expensive.
Best uses of Qiviut and Silk:
If you’re an adventurous knitter yourself, you could keep things a bit more budget-friendly and buy your own yarn. I found a beautiful website called Windy Valley Musk Ox that has tons of blends and color combinations. Click the link to see their qiviut-silk blend.
Qiviut and Alpaca Wool
Another shiny version that combines the best of two luxury fibers: qiviut and alpaca wool blended together makes an incredibly strong fiber. Great for hiking and cuddling.
Qiviut wool is very often blended because it is such a unique and precious fiber. By blending qiviut with other (high quality) wool fibers, you can keep the benefits of the musk oxen’s down, while making it a tad bit more affordable.
While the prices of products made of these wool blends might still seem sky-high, I have to say it is really all relative. These items are praised for their durability and they will last you a lifetime - if taken care of properly!!!
Another added benefit of blending alpaca wool with qiviut is that it will make every itch disappear (with the right blend percentage).
Best uses of Qiviut and Alpaca Wool:
Extremely cold environments
Mohair and Wool
Mohair is the wool from the angora goat and is considered a luxury fiber, just like alpaca, angora wool, qiviut, silk, merino, etc.
I found out that basically all mohair is blended. According to Gentleman’s Gazette, the perfect blend of mohair and wool is 14% Mohair and 86% Wool.
If you were to use 100% mohair you will find that it is way too stiff and that wearing a pure mohair garment would be highly uncomfortable. For mohair to be the luxurious fiber that it is, it needs to be combined.
The most common combination of mohair is with wool. Wool - both regular and alpaca - will help keep the coarse mohair in place, making it a stronger yarn. On the other hand, mohair is regarded warmer than wool, so by blending the two, you will create an even warmer garment.
Mohair is also praised for its luster and fluffiness (fuzzy, hairy, fluffy wool), and has a lower micron count than wool (according to Wikipedia, 24-25 microns compared to 30+) and similar to that of alpaca (25-26 microns for alpaca). By blending mohair with wool you create a wool that is silky, fluffy and soft.
Best uses of Mohair and Wool:
Rugs and carpets
Skiing and climbing gear
Dolls and teddy bears
Your regular set of winter accessories, like sweaters, hats, gloves and scarves
Angora and Wool
Just like mohair, angora wool (the rabbit one) is often combined with other fibers. Angora wool is also a fluffy and soft fiber that is known for being lightweight and very warm.
However, angora wool does not have much elasticity and it is a very silky fiber. These beautiful characteristics of the angora wool fiber, however, also make it highly perceptible to felting - a big no-no in the wool world!
By combining angora wool with sheep wool you get a stronger fiber that is less prone to felting. The wool fiber also makes it much more elastic, adding to its strength and users comfort.
Best Uses of Angora and Wool:
Accessories: hats, scarves, gloves
Felting - Why not turn a normally negative feature into a positive, totally new fabric or design :)
Merino/Alpaca Wool and Spandex/Elastane
Another must-have when it comes to wool blends is woolen socks! Never again shall you experience cold feet with a set of woolen socks.
With wool being highly breathable, you will also prevent your feet from getting stinky, smelly, sweaty and yukky.
Now, it is basically impossible to create socks with 100% wool - no matter how elastic the wool claims to be. They will just fall down your ankles, slip away from the toes and cause much more discomfort than they should.
While this might actually work for bed socks (Who else is a fan?!?) you cannot go hiking, exercising, or even walk the dogs with pure woolen socks.
So, if you’re looking for a new, durable, breathable and sustainable alternative for your hiking socks, look for a wool blend that has at least 1% elastane (or spandex, or the other brand-elastic ones).
Using natural materials for your hiking socks is beneficial for a ton of different reasons and with a good pair of socks you will increase your hiking pleasure a lot!
Best Uses of Merino/Alpaca Wool and Spandex/Elastane