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5 Unusual Types of Yarn

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Thinkstock

Clothing has to come from somewhere, and any seasoned knitter or crochet fanatic knows that the fibers your yarn is made from make a big difference when it comes to the quality of the product. Here are five strange fibers that you probably didn’t know you could wear.

1. Camels

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Unlike the one-humped Dromedary camel, which occupies arid regions like Africa's Sahara desert, the two-humped Bactrian camel lives in cold climates, particularly Mongolia. Tended by nomadic herders, these camels grow a thick, warm coat to protect them from the cold. It’s the fur on their underbellies that’s the softest, though, and gathered by the herders when the camels shed their coats in the spring. The downy fibers are then spun into a yarn notable for being remarkably lightweight, soft, and warm.

2. Muskox

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The coveted wool of the muskox comes from the layer of underwool closest to its body, called qiviut. Qiviut is valued for its strength and warmth and, unlike sheep's wool, it doesn't shrink. A male muskox can produce up to seven pounds of qiviut a year; when the animal molts, the qiviut is plucked from its coat and salvaged from objects it has rubbed against. You can buy high-quality qiviut accessories on the Alaskan Co-operative Oomingmak’s website, but it will put you back a couple hundred dollars.

3. Sugar Cane

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When the fluid used to make edible sugar is extracted from sugar cane, there is fibrous plant material left over, called the bagasse. In a process referred to as the viscose process, the bagasse is shredded, broken down, and shot (while in liquid form) at high pressure through small holes. The long strand of fiber is then solidified and spun into yarn, and dyed to add color. Sugar cane yarn is silky, with a lustrous sheen, and perfect for eco-friendly yarn fanatics.

4. Seaweed

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If you combine crushed seaweed from the shores of Iceland with cellulose fibers from eucalyptus trees, you get SeaCell, or seaweed yarn. SeaCell purportedly “makes the benefits of seaweed wearable” by releasing beneficial nutrients directly onto the wearer’s skin, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E. According to Chinese medicine, seaweed can also help boost your immune system, reduce blood sugar, and revitalize your skin, hair, and nails. Best of all, it’s completely organic, renewable, and one of the most breathable fabrics on the market—which is why high-end athletic stores like Lululemon carry it.

5. Your Pets

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If you’ve ever wanted a sweater as soft as Fluffy’s fur, here’s your chance: if you collect your pet’s fur and send it in to VIP (Very Important Pet) Fibers, you can have it spun into yarn and even made into a keepsake accessory or article of clothing. Or there’s Woofspun, which specializes in making yarn and garments out of dog fur, and even Cattyshack Creations, which makes fetching little handbags from yarn spun from your cat’s fur.

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Animals
This Is the Age When Puppies Reach 'Peak Cuteness'
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All puppies are cute, but at some point in a young dog's life, it goes from "It's so cute I could squeeze it to death" to merely regular cute. But when? According to one recent study in the journal Anthrozoös, peak cuteness hits between 6 and 8 weeks old for many dogs, The Washington Post reports.

Finding out when puppies reach their peak attractiveness to humans may give us insights into how domestic dogs evolved. Researchers from the University of Florida asked 51 students at the school to look at 39 black-and-white images of dogs, who belonged to three different breeds and whose ages ranged from birth to 8 months. The viewers then rated them on a sliding scale of squishability.

The results will sound familiar to dog lovers. Puppies aren't entirely adorable immediately after they're born—they can look a little rat-like—and the participants rated them accordingly. As dogs get older, as much as we might love them, their squee-worthy cuteness declines, as the attractiveness scores reflected. The sweet spot, it turns out, is right around when puppies are being weaned, or between 6 and 8 weeks old.

The participants tended to rate dogs as most attractive when the pups were within the first 10 weeks of their lives. According to the results, Cane Corsos were at their cutest around 6.3 weeks old, Jack Russell terriers at 7.7 weeks old, and white shepherds at 8.3 weeks.

The study only used still photos of a few breeds, and it's possible that with a more diverse sample, the time of peak cuteness might vary a bit. Certain puppies might be cuter at an older age, and certain puppies might be cuter when they're even younger. But weaning age happens to coincide with the time when puppies are no longer getting as much support from their mothers, and are thus at a high risk of mortality. By evolving to attract human support at a time when they're most vulnerable, puppies might have boosted their chance at survival until they were old enough to completely take care of themselves.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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Martin Wittfooth
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Art
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig

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