What is Baby Camel?
Blithe is spun from the soft, warm undercoat of the two-humped Bactrian camel, not to be confused with the one- humped desert Dromedary camel. Bactrian camels live in cold climates; they originated in northern Afghanistan, and many live in Mongolia, tended by nomadic herders. In the winter, Bactrian camels grow a thick, warm coat to protect themselves from the cold. The coat can grow to more than a foot on certain parts of the animal, but it’s the downy fiber on the camel’s underbelly that knitters love. In the spring, camels naturally shed this soft under hair which herders gather, sort, and market or spin.
Camel down can vary from less than an inch to four inches in length and ranges from 19 to 24 microns. Remember: the lower the micron count, the softer the fiber. As a reference point, cashmere can check in at 19 microns. Camel fiber comes in camel brown, of course, but some camels are gray, reddish brown, or white.
Camel down is amazingly lightweight, super soft, lustrous, and warm. A noted characteristic of camel yarns: After washing, they bloom beautifully.
For more information on Bactrian camels and camel fiber, look up the Winter 2007 issue of Wild Fibers Magazine and Clara Parkes discussion of camel in her book The Knitter’s Book of Yarn (Potter Craft, 2007).