About Wool Fabric

About Wool Fabric

About Cashmere Fabric Reading About Wool Fabric 7 minutes

What Is Wool Fabric?

Wool is a type of fabric derived from the hairs of various animals. While most people associate the word “wool” with sheep, there are, in fact, a variety of distinct types of wool that producers derive from animals other than sheep.

To make wool, producers harvest the hairs of animals and spin them into yarn. They then weave this yarn into garments or other forms of textiles. Wool is known for its durability and thermally insulating properties; depending on the type of hair that producers use to make wool, this fabric may benefit from the natural insulative effects that keep the animal that produced the hair warm throughout the winter.

How Is Wool Fabric Made?

The production of wool begins with the shearing of wool-bearing animals. Some animals bear wool once per year, and others bear wool multiple times throughout the year.

Next, the shorn wool is cleaned and sorted into bales. There are a variety of ways to remove the greasy lanolin in raw wool, but most large wool producers use chemical catalysts for this process.

Once the wool fibers are clean and sorted, they are carded, which is the process of making the fibers into long strands. These carded strands are then spun into yarn, and after a final washing, this yarn can be woven into garments and other types of woolen textiles.

Lastly, the finished textiles may be exposed to a variety of post-production processes to develop certain attributes. Fulling, for instance, is the immersion of a wool textile in water to make the fibers interlock, and crabbing is the process of permanently setting this interlock. Lastly, wool producers may decorate their products for shrink-proofing purposes, and rarely, they may also dye their finished wool products.

How Is Wool Fabric Used?

Over the years, human beings have found hundreds of ways to use wool. While wool is primarily used in consumer applications, this substance is also popular in industrial applications for its durability and flame-retardant qualities.

While finer types of wool might be used to make garments that directly contact the skin, it’s much more common to find wool used for outerwear or other types of garments that don’t make direct bodily contact. For instance, most of the world’s formal suits consist of wool fibers, and this textile is also commonly used to make sweaters, hats, gloves, and other types of accessories and apparel.

Where Is Wool Fabric Produced?

According to World Atlas, Australia produces 25 percent of the world’s wool, which makes it the most prominent wool-producing country. China, which has one of the world’s largest textile markets and textile industries, produces 18 percent of the world’s wool. At 17 percent, the United States is the third-largest wool producer, and New Zealand comes in fourth since it produces 11 percent of the world’s wool supply.

What Different Types of Wool Fabric Are There?

There are quite a few different types of wool, and not every variety is derived from sheep:

  1. Merino Wool

Merino wool is one of the world’s most common types of wool. The vast majority of merino sheep are bred in Australia, and wool from merino sheep is used to make all sorts of different kinds of garments and industrial materials.

This type of wool can have a diameter of under 20 microns, which makes it one of the finest types of woolen products in existence. While merino sheep were originally bred in Spain, hardly any merino wool production still occurs in this European country. Since merino wool is relatively greasy before it is processed, it’s necessary to remove lanolin from this type of textile before it can be spun into yarn.

  1. Cashmere Wool

Cashmere is one of the most expensive and luxurious types of wool. The name “cashmere” comes from the Kashmir region of India, which is the area where the furry goats that supply cashmere wool originated.

With hair diameters as small as 18 microns, cashmere is just as soft and fine as merino wool. The high price of cashmere wool, however, comes from the fact that cashmere goats can only produce around 150 grams of wool per year, which makes this type of wool a highly desired commodity.

  1. Mohair Wool

Mohair wool comes from angora goats, which have incredibly thick, wavy wool. While it’s possible to gather mohair wool without hurting angora goats, the mohair industry has been mired in controversy for generations over the widespread mistreatment of these wool-bearing animals.

While other types of wool may not be highly crimped, the wavy hair of angora goats naturally leads to high-crimp woolen textiles. During the 1970s and 1980s, mohair was very much in vogue, and trendy urbanites wore mohair sweaters and put mohair carpeting in their homes until the rampant animal abuses in the mohair industry came to light.

  1. Alpaca Wool

People in South America have been breeding alpacas for their wool for thousands of years. Younger alpacas can yield hairs as small as 15 microns, but alpaca wool roughens as it ages, which makes the hair fibers of older alpacas unusable for apparel purposes.

There are a few different breeds of alpacas that breeders use for wool, and Suri alpaca wool is among the most prized varieties of this natural textile. While some manufacturers use pure alpaca wool to make garments, most producers mix this type of wool with less expensive wool varieties to take advantage of the draping qualities of alpaca fibers without incurring unreasonable costs.

  1. Camel Wool

During the early 20th century, camel hair suits were all the rage. Camel wool is incredibly insulative, but it is also less durable than other types of wool. Since camel hair is relatively rough, it isn’t well-suited for any garments that directly touch the skin.

  1. Virgin Wool

Also known as lamb’s wool, virgin wool is wool made from a lamb’s first shearing. This term can also refer to wool that hasn’t been recycled.

  1. Angora Wool

Angora wool comes from a special breed of rabbit that produces incredibly fine and soft hair. This type of wool is very expensive, and the rabbits that produce it are not commonly kept in humane conditions.

  1. Vicuna Wool

The vicuna is a relative of the alpaca that is exclusively native to Peru. Vicuna wool is the most expensive type of wool in existence, which is partially due to the Peruvian government’s attempts to protect this endangered species.

  1. Llama Wool

Llama wool is generally too rough to be worn next to the skin, but it is suitable for outerwear garments. It’s relatively rare to find a breeder that produces llama wool.

  1. Qiviut Wool

The qiviut is a type of musk ox native to Alaska. While the fibers produced by this animal are very rough, they are eight times more insulative than sheep wool, which makes qiviut wool ideal for gloves, hats, and other types of cold weather gear.

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