WooL, the textile fiber


WooL, the textile fiber

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Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, giviut from muskoxen, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids.

The story begins in Asia Minor during the Stone Age about 10,000 years ago. Primitive man used sheep for three basic human needs: food, clothing and sheClter. Later on man learned to spin and weave.

 

Wool has several qualities that distinguish it from hair or fur: it is crimped, it is elastic, and it grows in staples. Its quality is determined by its fiber diameter, crimp, yield, color, and staple strength. Fiber diameter is the single most important wool characteristic determining quality and price.

Global wool production is about 1.3 million tonnes per year, of which 60% goes into apparel. Australia is the leading producer of wool which is mostly from Merino sheep. New Zealand is the second-largest producer of wool, and the largest producer of crossbred wool. China is the third-largest producer of wool. Breeds such as Lincoln, Romney, Drysdale and Elliotdale produce coarser fibers, and wool from these sheep is usually used for making carpets.

Organic wool is becoming more and more popular. This wool is very limited in supply and much of it comes from New Zealand and Australia. It is becoming easier to find in clothing and other products, but these products often carry a higher price. Wool is environmentally preferable (as compared to petroleum-based nylon or polypropylene) as a material for carpets, as well, in particular when combined with a natural binding and the use of formaldehyde-free glues.

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