If I were to ask you what is wool, and where does it come from would, you be able to answer me? After reading this you should have a better idea. Wool is a fibrous protein that comes from hair follicles in sheep. A hair follicle is a part in the skin that grows hair. It is taken from animals in the Caprinae family, but mostly sheep. Other animals such as goats, vicuna, alpaca and camels also produce hair that can be used to make wool and similar materials like cashmere.
It comes from sheep is called grease wool or wool in grease. This material is known for its high levels of lanolin. Cleaning the wool is the first thing that must be done before making it into a commercially sellable material. The cleaning process can be as easy as soaking the it in warm water, or using a detergent to wash the grease away.
Once the product is clean it is separated into a few categories. Fleece, broken, bellies, and locks. A Person known as a wool classer is responsible for separating the wool. This process is important because it will maximize the production for the farmer. Farmers and manufactures depend on the “classer” to produce uniform and consistent lines of wool. The process in which the classer does this is by familiarizing him self with the following; The breed of sheep, the chemicals used to clean the wool, the wool strength, and the color of the wool. The wool classer’s job is one of the most important in the manufacturing process.
On a global scale there is about 1.3 million tones of wool produced each year. Of this about 60% is used for clothing and decorations. Choosing wool over petroleum-based products should be a no-brainer. Man-made products are harmful to the environment and don’t last as long as wool and other natural Environmentally friendly products. These days you can even purchase organic wool clothing and apparel. It is more costly than non-organic wool and is mainly produced in Australia and New Zealand.
Wool is also used in products such as, carpeting, felt, insulation, blankets, wool oriental rugs and upholstery. Australia, New Zealand and China are the leading producers of wool. Merino Sheep are the most popular breeds of sheep for producing quality wool.
Max Michael King
Photo. Surene Palvie