Wool Material


Wool Material

Most people think that wool material comes only from sheep. However, camels can produce hair that is regarded as wool. There are also other animals such as rabbits that have hair that can be used as wool material. However, in most cases what we consider as wool will come from sheep.

Wool is actually composed wholly of a protein called keratin. The length of wool typically ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 inches. This range depends on the breed of sheep in question. There are three essential components that make up each piece of wool material. These are the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla.

Think of the cortex as the outer layer of wool material. It is often a protective layer composed of elements that can adhere to other like elements. As such when two fibers of wool material are in contact with each other, they easily cling to each other. This property allows for wool to be spun quite easily into thread. The cortex on the other hand is composed of millions of cortical cells. With some types of wool material such as natural-colored wool, these cells may contain melanin. The arrangement of the cortical cells within the cortex gives wool material the natural crimp that it is known for.

The last layer, the medulla is not found in most fine wools. The Medulla is comprised of a series of cells which are loosely held providing air spaces which give wool its thermal insulation properties.

Wool is known to have a high affinity for water which makes it one of the easiest materials to dye. Though it may be a good insulator, it is known to discolor and scorch when subjected to high temperatures. Wool has moderate elasticity. Each fiber can be stretched by about 25% before it breaks. However, due to its affinity for water, wool material is known to shrink when it is wet.

There are a number of designs that can be made from wool material. The fabric happens to be quite versatile and can mixed with any number of synthetic fibers. Moreover, one can also use a number of finishes and treatments on the material.

Production of wool is done through the use of different types of fleece. For instance, fleece taken from young sheep that are eight months old or less is referred to as Lamb's wool. This wool has a natural feel to it unlike that of pulled wool. Pulled wool material is taken from animals originally sent to slaughter houses. The wool gained this way is of a lower quality and is known to produce low quality cloth. You may also come across wool material that is termed as "virgin wool". While most think that this means that the wool is of a higher quality than others, it actually means that the wool has not undergone any manufacturing processes whatsoever. The quality of the wool has nothing to do with the name.

The different types of wool material named above are used in the manufacture of two types of woolen fabrics, namely worsteds and woolens. Woolens are known to be less durable than worsteds due to their low thread count. However, their products are generally warmer than those made from worsteds.