Wool is a fabric made especially from the fleece of sheep. Hair of other species, llamas, goats and rabbits, can be also used to make wool. Wool is one of the most popular fabrics used to make different kinds of clothing. It has multiple qualities like heat retention, hygroscopicity, low heat release, low heat of combustion and static electricity resistance.
Steps in making Wool
The first step in making wool is shearing the fleece of a sheep. Shearing is mostly done by hand, but there are also computer operated machines that can easily trim the fleece of sheep. It is very important to keep the sheared fleece in one piece so good quality wool is produced. Also proper shearing technique has to be used so sheep don’t get too many cuts and bruises in the process of shearing.
After shearing, the wool is separated into five categories according to quality: fleece, broke, pieces, bellies and locks. The first group is used to make clothing, while the other four are mostly used to make rugs.
Fresh sheared fleece contains a lot of dirt, sweat, sand, contaminants and grease. Therefore, this raw wool needs to be cleaned before it can be used for commercial purposes. The wool goes through multiple alkaline baths in a mixture of water, soap and soda ash. This is when lanoline is produced. After washing, water is squeezed out of the fleece, but not completely and sometimes oil is used to enhance the wool softness.
The next step in making wool is carding. The fleece has to pass through a series of metal teeth that will straighten the fibers into slivers. Carding helps to get rid of any remaining dirt.
After the carding process, wool is ready to be spun to form a strand of yarn. For this purpose, a spinning machine is used. Spun yarn is wrapped around cones, bobbins or drums.
Clean, carded and spun yarn is ready to be made into fabrics and clothing. For this purpose, yarn can be knitted, weaved or twilled. Also, dyeing and other beautification processes can give it a more desirable look.