Since ancient times, people living in cold places covered their bodies with animal fur. With time they realise that the fleas of many animal could be used to make wool. Animal such as sheep, goats and camel were domesticated and their hair was used to make wool.
Wool and silk are animal fibres. Animal plant and synthetic fibres can be distinguished by the way they burn. When cotton burns, it leaves behind s and gives out a characteristic order of burning paper. Pure wool burns with a shooting flame and gives up and unpleasant order of burning hair. The residue of the burnt wool is hard.
Silk fibres also burn with a sooty flame and give out a characteristics order but the residue they leave behind is powdery. Synthetic fibres such as nylon and polyester melt and drop while they burn and give out a smell of burning plastic. The residue they leave behind is hard.
We get wool from animals like sheep, goats, camels, yaks and rabbits.
Cashmere wool is the finest wool. It is obtained from the cashmere goats found in the Kashmir region. The wool is also known as pashmina and is woven or knitted into fine pashmina shawls and garments.
The soft underhair of the yaks found in the Ladakh region and Tibet is used to make wool. The wool can be blended with silk for easy spinning. Yak wool is used to make sweaters, blankets and coats. It is much warmer than the sheep wool.
Mohair, the fleece taken from Angora goats, is very tough and strong. More hair is used for making garments and home furnishing.
Angora wool is obtained from the Angora Rabbit, a variety of domestic rabbit, bred for its long soft hair. The soft fibre is used in sweaters and cloths for infants.
The hair obtained from the undercoat of the camel is extremely soft and shine. Camel wool is used to make coats, robes and sportswear.
Most of the wool in the market is made from the fleece of sheep. The wool processing involves the following steps.
- Shearing is the first step in the processing of wool. The fleece is peeled off in one piece. The Sheep need to be protected from rain for a day before shearing.
- The next step is washing the Raw to remove grease, vegetable matter and other impurities. This is done in a series of tubs filled with soap water. This process is called scouring.
- The raw wool is then squeezed and dried by passing it through a series of rollers and dryers.
- The wool is dyed using different colours.
- The fibres are then rolled over one to one another into fine strengths called slivers.
- The fine strands are then gently twisted into ropelike strands through a process called roving.
- The strands are combed and prepared for spinning into wool yarn.
- After spinning, the goal is either woolen into fabric or knitted into garments.
Characteristics of wool fibre
- Some woollen fibres are rough while others are extremely soft.
- Curls of the wool fibre create air pockets and give wool a spongy feel.
- Wool creates insulation for the wearer as it traps air close to the skin. The body heat warms the trapped air, thus making the wearer feel warm.
- Wool is elastic and returns to its original position after being stretched.
- Wool is resistant to fire.