We all depend on plants and animals for our food with high nutrient values, shelter, and clothing. Let us discuss wool-bearing animal sheep and about the processing of wool. The cozy warm woolen garments which we use throughout the cold season have traced their origin back from 4000 B.C. The Neolithic age saw humans using animal wools as clothing which was warm and comfortable, therefore the processing and primitive tools of making wools began. Anthropologists believed that the wool invention came out from the challenge of survival. The Babylonians were wearing the clothes made from crudely woven fabric. The wool-bearing animals were now kept and maintained by the people. The most practical to use was the sheep.
The eleventh and twelfth centuries saw a boom in wool trade. The English people became proficient in raising sheep while the end got skilled in processing which led the British to sell the wool to the Flemish for processing the wool and then selling it back to the English. Soon the British realized the advantages of processing and producing the wool, they enacted the laws that would increase the domestic production. Today wool is a global industry, Australia being the leading supplier. Australia’s wool production accounts for 1/4th of total wool production and the demand for the woolen products increases with the population. To meet the increasing requirements and demands of wool, we need to apply a greater effort by breeding and raising livestock. One such effort to meet food demand is animal husbandry and poultry farming.
What are the steps involved in wool processing?
Wool can be blended with the number of synthetic fibers and different finishes. Fleece is taken from young sheep that have not reached the age of eight months. As the fiber has not been cut, the wool gives a softer feel that has a natural and tapered end.
The major process that the wool undergoes is shearing, cleaning, and scoring, grading and sorting, carding, spinning, weaving, and finishing.
Steps of wool processing
Shearing: The sheep are sheared usually once a year – during the springtime. The fleece coming from one sheep can weigh anywhere around 2.8 kilograms to 8 kilograms. Most of the sheep are sheared by hand but with the advent of new technologies, the shearing has been made easy with the use of robot-controlled arms.
Grading and breaking up: The fleece is for overall quality. The wool is broken up for different quality fibers that come from different parts of the body. The quality that is used for clothing comes from shoulders and sides of sheep. The fleece coming from legs is used for rugs.
Cleaning and Scouring: Once after shearing and grading wool is cleaned to remove dirt, grease, dried sweat etc. The weight of these contaminants make up for 70% and to clean them up they undergo a series of alkaline baths containing water, soda ash, soap, and alkali. The wool so obtained after cleaning is treated with oil to give them increased manageability.
Carding: This process removes the short fibers and places the long one parallel to each other. The carded wool is sent directly to spinning.
Spinning: In this process, fibers are spun together to make a single strand of yarn and thread is formed. As the fibers cling to each other it is easier to join, spin and extend the wool into yarn. The spun yarn is coiled in cones, bobbins, or in commercial drums.
Weaving: The wool is woven into the fabric. Weaving is the method of textile production when two distinct sets of yarns or threads are intertwined at right angles that form a cloth.
Finishing: The woven wool is ready to wear and suitable dyes are applied. Dyeing can also be done before the carding process.
To learn more about the wool processing, visit Byju’s.