Luxury yarn is a type of yarn that is usually all-natural and known for its high quality and soft texture. Most types of luxury yarn are derived from animal sources. Luxury yarns that are spun from animal fibers include cashmere, mohair, angora, silk, camel, alpaca, llama, and qiviut, as well as blends that include any of these fibers. Yarns made from exotic plant fibers, such as sugar cane, may also be considered luxury yarns. Some other types of luxury yarn may be adorned with precious metals or stones, such as silver or pearls. These yarns are more commonly found in stores that specialize in yarn and fiber, and come in a variety of colors and yarn weights, or strand thicknesses.
Cashmere and mohair are both types of luxury yarn that are spun using fiber from goats, the Cashmere and Angora goat, respectively. Yarns made from cashmere wool are spun from fibers taken from the undercoat of the Cashmere goat. They are known for their exceptional softness and warmth, and garments made from cashmere tend to be fine and lightweight despite their great warmth. Mohair is spun from the curly locks of Angora goats, and is known in particular for its fuzzy texture, often referred to as a "halo."
Another type of luxury yarn is angora yarn, which is not spun from the fiber of Angora goats, but from the fiber of Angora rabbits. Angora rabbits are a breed of domestic rabbit known for their long, soft coats. The rabbits often have a somewhat comical appearance, as many breeds strongly resemble large furballs. Fiber is gathered from Angora rabbits by plucking, shearing, or collecting molted fur. Most angora yarns are soft, airy blends that often include sheep's wool or other animal fibers.
Silk yarn is a soft luxury yarn spun from the cocoons of silkworm larvae, with the best quality silk yarns usually produced by the species Bombyx mori, commonly known as a mulberry silkworm. Silkworm caterpillars form cocoons around their bodies when they are ready to become moths. Silk cultivators kill most of the caterpillars by applying heat, and then remove their cocoons and place them in boiling water. The boiling water softens the silk fibers, which can then be drawn out of the cocoon in threads that can spun into yarn. Due to the fact that silkworm larvae must die to produce silk fiber, many animal rights organizations are opposed to the cultivation of silkworms.
Many camelid species also produce fiber that can be spun into luxury yarn. Alpacas, camels, and llamas all have very warm, soft coats. Processing the wool of camels, alpacas, and llamas is very similar to processing the wool of sheep. The animals are sheared and their coats are cleaned and carded before being spun into yarn. Unlike wool from sheep, wool taken from alpacas, camels, and llamas is hypoallergenic because it lacks a waxy substance called lanolin that is found in sheep's wool.
One of the most expensive types of luxury fiber available is qiviut fiber. Qiviut is the soft, warm undercoat of the muskox. Most qiviut is collected after muskoxen have their annual molt in the spring months. Yarns spun from qiviut are very warm, soft, and fine. Bleaching and dyeing often negatively affects the softness of qiviut fiber, so most types of qiviut yarn are undyed.