Wild Fibres natural fibres
Wild Fibres Glossary

               Wild Fibres - Natural fibres for spinning & felting


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Some fibre terms:

Bradford Count
Bradford or English Spinning Count System is the number of hanks of yarn, each of 560 yards in length that can be spun from one pound of clean wool. The finer the fibre is, the more hanks that can be obtained from one pound of wool. The higher the number, the finer the wool, and therefore 64 is finer than 48.

Breed (abbreviated from The Genetics of Populations by Jay L. Lush and quoted on the OSU site)
A breed is a group of domestic animals, termed as such by common consent of breeders, and no one is warranted in assigning to this word a scientific definition and in calling the breeders wrong when they deviate from the formulated definition. It is their word and the breeders’ common usage is what we must accept as the correct definition.

Ingeo is not a natural fibre but a resin or biopolymer formed by breaking down plant starches into sugars and then synthesising the polymer by fermentation and separation. The resulting resin is spun or extruded into Ingeo for use in textiles.

Mawata (Japanese for expanded or spread out, for example as in stretching silk cocoons) silk caps and silk hankies: - the cocoons are soaked in warm, soapy water and stretched over a frame that is square (approximately 25 cm) for hankies. Caps are stretched over a bamboo framework that is shaped like a knitted hat. Several cocoons are stretched over the frame so that each hankie or cap is composed of several layers, each containing the silk fibres of one cocoon (see link). You can buy silk caps and silk hankies here.

A micron is the modern measurement used for the diameter of wool fibres and is equal to one thousandth of a millimetre. Fleeces contain a wide range of fibre diameters and therefore a small sample is taken from the fleece of the sheep to calculate the average diameter of the fibres. The lower the value of microns the finer fibres are. Merino is typically 12-24 microns whilst Lincolns range from 41-45.

Moorit is a dialect name that comes from Shetland indicating the rich brown colour of the fleece of some Shetland and other North European short-tailed sheep. You can buy Moorit wool fibre here.

Noil is the short fibre left over from combing wool or spinning silk. As noil is a shorter fibre, fabric made from noil is weaker and considered less valuable. You can buy silk noils here.

Polled is the name for the absence of horns in cattle, sheep and goats. "Smooth polled" means that the animal has never had any horns or scurs.

Qiviut is the Eskimo word for the soft, downy under-wool of the Arctic Musk Ox, Ovibos moschatus, (not “Quivut” or “Quivit”, as it is often misspelled on the web).

Ramie (Boehmeria nivea) is an East Asian flowering plant of the nettle family. It produces a bast fibre and one of the strongest natural fibres but is stiff and brittle and lacks resiliency. Ramie may be made into fabrics, frequently in blends with other textile fibres such as wool to reduce shrinkage or to strengthen and is similar to linen. Read more about Ramie here or buy Ramie tops here.

A rolag is a roll of fibre used for spinning woollen yarn. It is created by first carding the fibre, using hand carders, and then by gently rolling the fibre off the surface of the carder to prepare the sausage-shaped rolag. If properly prepared, the rolag will be uniform in width, distributing the fibres evenly. The fibres are not as closely aligned to the yarn as in worsted and therefore the woollen yarn captures much more air, making a softer, warmer and bulkier yarn.

A roving is a long, narrow bundle of fibre with a twist to hold the fibre together. It is usually used to spin worsted yarn but can be used to spin woollen yarn as well. A roving can be created by carding or combing the fibre and is then drawn into long strips where the fibre is parallel. Roving is similar to sliver (see sliver).

Scurs are small horn-like growths on the skull of cattle, sheep and goats, in the same locations as horns would grow. They may be referred to a "wiggle horns" and most are moveable and not attached firmly to the skull (see polled).

Silk caps and silk hankies: see Mawata.

Sliver is a long bundle of fibre that is generally used to spin worsted yarn. The sliver is created by carding or combing the fibre, which is then drawn into long strips so that the fibres are parallel. When sliver is drawn further and given a slight twist, it becomes Roving.

Worsted is the name of a yarn and the cloth made from this yarn. The name comes from the village of Worstead that became a centre for the manufacture of yarn and cloth after Flemish weavers arrived in Norfolk in the 12th century. Worsted is a tightly spun wool yarn with no air that it is handspun from a roving or from combed top and the fibres all lie in the same direction as the yarn.

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Teresinha at Wild Fibres
Studio I-319, Scott House, The Custard Factory
Gibb Street, Birmingham B9 4DT, UK

Contact Teresinha for enquiries on
Tel:  +44 (0)7979 770865
email: info@wildfibres.co.uk

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Last updated on 25 July 2019
Website and photos by Mike Roberts © 2008-19 Wild Fibres