Production Of Wool Fabric
The conversion of wool fiber into fabric begins with the shearing of the sheep. In most of the United States, sheep shearing takes place in the spring. Professional shearers travel from place to place, where they are paid by the number of fleeces they shear. A good sheep shearer can shear 200 sheep per day.
Wool fleeces are sorted by hand according to their quality. The shoulder wool usually produces the best fiber, followed in order of quality by the side, neck, and back wool. After sorting, the wool is scoured to clean it and to prepare it for dyeing. After the wool has been dyed, it is carded to open the fibers. The fibers are then drawn into yarn, and any kinks present are removed by steam pressure. The yarn is next woven, examined, and burled to remove all knots and loose threads. In the finishing process, the cloth is shrunk, washed and rinsed to remove all impurities and dirt picked up in the earlier operations. Then the cloth is dried and straightened to remove all wrinkles. Finally, the cloth is sheared to give it uniformity, and then moistened and passed through heated rollers for pressing.
Worsteds are produced in a similar process, but the wool fibers are twisted during processing to produce a smoother, harder surface. As a result, worsteds have harder surface finishes, greater durability, and sharper colorings than woolens.
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