When we think about how is wool made we tend to think of sheep being the animal to supply the wool. In fact, there are many sources of wool nowadays, in fact, Various camels, goats, and rabbits produce hair that is also now classified as wool.
The Origin of Wool
Anthropologists believe the use of wool came out of the challenge to survive. Humans had to find a means of warmth and protection. This served as the beginnings on how wool is made.
Most early humans in the Neolithic Age wore animal pelts as clothing. These were durable, warm and comfortable. Humans soon started developing basic processes and primitive tools for making wool.
By the year 4000 B.C., Babylonians were clothed in garments made of crudely woven fabric, not at all how wool is made today.
When people started keeping herds of wool-bearing animals, the wool of a sheep was soon recognized as one of the most practical materials to use. Wool trade was very prosperous during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The English became the experts at raising sheep while the Flemish had the skills for processing the wool. Britain sold its wool to the Flemish, who processed it and then sold it back to the English.
Being ambitious, the British soon began to produce and process their own wool and they enhanced their position by passing certain laws that would increase domestic production. One law was that judges, professors, and students wear robes make of English wool, and another was that the dead be buried in English wool.
When the Americans tried to compete with Britain, the English passed more laws in an attempt to protect their wool, and one of the laws threatened the amputation of the hands of colonists caught trying to improve the blood line of American sheep.
Nowadays, wool is a global industry with the major suppliers of raw wool being Australia, Argentina, USA and New Zealand.
Australia is the leading supplier, supplying a fourth of the world’s wool and the USA is the largest consumer.
So what was essentially for centuries a small home based craft, has grown into a massive industry. The number one source for fibre worldwide is wool, which is even higher than cotton.
How Is Wool Made Into Material?
If you are here to find out how is wool made, here it is in a nutshell:
The wool is first shorn off of the sheep.
It is then sorted by color and quality.
Next, it is washed. The first step is to run the wool through a machine called the Picker, which cleans the wool of foreign materials like dung, mud, burrs and whatever other things the sheep had embedded in their coats. The wool is then put through a duster to free the wool of pollens and excess dust.
It is then sent through a shredder to separate and align the fibers.
After that, the wool is run through a series of carders or brushes which align all of the fibers. The wool could also be dyed at this point. The wool is then twisted and elongated or spun into yarn or thread by a Mule-Spinner and wound onto bobbins. When the bobbins are full, they are spot-checked on the Thread Length Counter.
The resulting yarn is knitted or woven into fabric or sold as balls of wool.
The woven fabric is washed for hours in liquid soap and hot water to pre-shrink and soften. The water temperature has to be controlled exactly for good results.
After washing and being placed in the Extractor to remove excess moisture, the cloth is hung outside on tenter hook fences to air dry.
When dry, the cloth is trimmed on the Decating or Shearing Machine.
Another machine removes nap and lint from the cloth.
The cloth is then steam-pressed and folded or rolled into the finished product, ready to be sold or used ………
The dye can be added at any point in the manufacturing process, depending on the result desired.
How is wool made? Well, now you know. If you want to find out about the history of knitting, click here.