A material, which is composed of thin and continuous strands is known as fiber. Fiber can be classified into – natural fiber and synthetic fiber. Fibers obtained from plants and animals are known as natural fibers. Synthetic fibers are man-made fibers, which are prepared from raw materials (petroleum) called as petrochemicals. Examples of natural fibers include – cotton and wool. Examples of synthetic fibers include – nylon, polyester, etc.
Wool is a natural animal fiber obtained from sheep, goat, yak, camel, etc. All these animals have an outer covering of hair, which is shaved off to obtain wool fibers. Animal fibers are naturally obtained from animals. Some animals that live in cold places generally develop a thick coat of hair on their body. These coating helps the animals to trap air in it and keep them warm as air is a poor conductor of heat. Air trapped by the hair on the body of the animals does not let the warmth to escape from the body. Hence, these thick covering of hair on animal body protects them from cold.
Steps for Extraction of Wool from Sheep:
- From sheep
Sheep hair has two types of fibers – the beard hair and the skin hair. The skin hair provides the fiber to make wool. The process of making fiber into wool follows a series of processes:
Shearing → Scouring → Sorting → Dyeing → Straightening, Rolling and Combing
This is the first step of processing fiber into wool. In this method, the fleece of the sheep along with a thin layer of skin is removed. This process is done in spring weather as sheep do not require the outer skin to keep them warm. Shearing is mostly done by machines or sometimes by hands.
After the shearing process, the sheared hair is washed in big tanks to remove grease, dust, and dirt by automatic machines. This process of washing sheared hair is known as scouring.
In sorting, hairs of different textures and types are sorted. Now we can differentiate between low and good quality fibers. The good quality fibers are used for clothes and the lower quality is used for making rugs. The fleece is sorted according to type and texture.
This process involves coloring of fibers in different colors as the natural fiber is generally white, black or brown in color.
- Straightening, Rolling, and Combing
After the dyeing process, the fibers are straightened, rolled and combed into yarns. Wool made from fibers are further used for making sweaters, woolen clothes, etc.
Uses of Wool:
People have been using wool for thousands of years for both functional and decorative purposes. This fiber has a number of advantages, including flexibility, durability, and water resistance. Products made from wool are:
- Woolen clothes
- Saddle cloths
- Horse Rugs
- Seat covers