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5 Unusual Types of Yarn

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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
Dogs Rescued After Hurricane Maria Are Available to Adopt in New York
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Dozens of dogs displaced by Hurricane Maria last month are now closer to having happy endings to their stories. As Mashable reports, 53 dogs flown out of Puerto Rico by The Sato Project have been put up for adoption in shelters around the U.S., with 28 of the rescues now available through a shelter in New York City.

The new batch of dogs looking for forever homes is in addition to the 60 dogs retrieved by The Sato Project earlier this month. According to the local animal rescue group, Puerto Rico was home to about 500,000 stray dogs before the historic storm made landfall in September. The animals being shuttled from the devastated island and into the U.S. via charter plane are a mix of feral dogs, abandoned dogs, and dogs that were surrendered to local shelters by families unable to care for them post-Maria.

The Sato Project, which worked to tackle Puerto Rico's stray dog problem before the disaster, wrote that in light of the storm they would be "mobilizing to provide supplies and support to our team on the ground in Puerto Rico, and to transport as many dogs as we can to safety in the coming days and weeks."

Aspiring pet owners looking to take in a four-legged survivor will have the best luck at the no-kill shelter Animal Haven in Manhattan's Lower East Side. There, dozens of dogs who made the trip from the U.S. territory are anxiously waiting to meet their new families. And if you don't live in the New York City area, you can check out The Sato Project's list of adoptable pets around the country.

Looking for ways to help Puerto Rico that don't involve adding a new member to the family? Here are some organizations doing recovery work on the island and ways you can support them.

[h/t Mashable]

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
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Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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