This is got from the skin of sheep and composes of a protein known as Keratin.
There are 40 different breeds of sheep, which produce approximately 200 types
of wool of varying grades. This is a relatively coarse fiber. This is because
of its crimp nature and scales in the surface. Depending on the breed of the
sheep, the appearance of the wool varies in some ways
Some have a great deal of crimp and smaller, finer
scales making wool more fine, soft and warm
Some have little crimp and coarser scales making
wool coarse, thick and less warm.
Wool is susceptible to heat and has a felting
property. Due to this property, only pressure, heat and moisture are required
to make wool fibers into the type of fabric called felt. Major producers
include: Australia, New Zealand, Russia, China, South Africa, and Argentina.
Silk fiber is got from the cocoon of a moth
caterpillar called silkworm and is essentially composed of protein. Silkworms
are generally cultivated. Also fine strand of silk is obtained from
uncultivated silkworm cocoons. Silk fiber is lustrous, lightweight, smooth,
elastic and strong. This is one of the highly desired fibers, widely used for
apparel, home furnishings, and upholstery. The major producer and exporter of
silk is Japan.
How is wool obtained?
People have been using wool in India , since
Pre-historic ages. Evidences of the usage of woolen garments have been
mentioned in the Rigveda and the Mahabharata.
During pre-independence period, the Merino sheep
were crossed with the Indian sheep and the new breed thus developed was known
as 'Kashmiri Merino' in Kashmir and 'Southern Merino' in Pune. Merino is a
breed of sheep originating from Spain . This breed is noted for its long thick
high quality white fleece. They are well adapted to the hot arid climates.
Pashmina, which is considered to be the highest
quality of wool, is obtained from the goats of Kashmir and Tibet . We find
variations in the quality of wool in different parts of our country, due to the
diversity in breed, natural conditions, rainfall and grasslands.
Wool is obtained mainly by shearing fleece from
living animals. The wool grease is removed from it. The wool fiber is mainly
composed of animal protein, 'Keratin'. The climate, soil and food affect the
shape of the wool.
Classification Of Wool
Wool fiber is classified into five types:
1. Thin wool
2. Merino wool
3. Medium wool
4. Long wool
5. Cross-bred wool
Thin wool is obtained from Merino sheep. The famous
Merino sheep varieties are American, Australian, French, Spanish, South
African, and South American.
Merino wool is famous for its softness, strength
and resilience, best for knitting. High quality knitted wool garments, suits
and fine dresses are made from this.
Medium wool is dense and dry. Its fibers are
lighter than those of Merino wool and are used for making tweed, serge,
flannel, overcoats and blankets.
Long wool is obtained from taller varieties of
sheep that are found in areas that receive heavy rainfall. This wool is thick,
bright and does not shrink due to the absence of fat in it. This is used for
manufacturing plain woolen clothes, tweed, serge and coats.
Crossbred wool is derived from Merino-Rambouillet
sheep crossed with longhaired sheep. This wool has both softness and thickness
of Merino sheep wool and the length of long wool. It is used for making socks
and Banyan and other such garments.
Nature Of Wool
The wool fiber is curly in shape and this curliness
is called 'crimp'. The thin wool fiber has more crimps than any other wool
variety. The number of crimps it has judges the quality of the wool. The fiber
has the quality of returning to its original length after limited stretching or
compression. This quality is called resilience. The length of the fiber can be
stretched to 30% of its original length without breaking it.
Wool has three types of shine:
This is found in the Merino wool.
This is found in the straight and smooth fiber.
This is found in the long hair wool.
Color of the Wool
The natural colors of wool are white, black and
gray. The color of domestic sheep wool is mostly white. The color of old
generation sheep is black or gray and is thus mostly used for making carpets.