Wool is a natural fiber, sourced primarily from the coats of sheep, however it can also be derived from llamas, alpacas, and goats. Wool is traditionally used to create warm, durable textiles for use as clothing and home goods. It is often made into apparel for cold climates such as scarves, coats, sweaters, suits, and hats, and is increasingly being used to create durable decorative textiles including carpeting and blankets, however due to improvements in breeding practices and fiber production, over 60% of the wool produced today is used for apparel. While wool is derived from the coats of animals, not any type of hair is able to form wool. Not synonymous with fur, wool is defined by crimps and bends within the fibers, and it is able to stretch when woven. The bends in the fibers allow them to bunch together, resulting in a heavy material with a high amount of bulk. The crimps also define the quality of the wool; while cheaper, often scratchier, wools have only a few bends per inch, high-quality, expensive wools like Merino, can have dozens per inch. Wool is celebrated for its ability to stretch much more than other natural fibers like cotton. This stretching ability also allows it to retain its shape better than other fibers, as it can simply ‘bounce back’ into shape. It is also an extremely absorbent fabric (wool can absorb almost 1/3 of its own weight) and is highly flame retardant, which makes it an ideal fabric for use in the uniforms of emergency workers in and home décor items. The history of wool begins with the domestication of livestock, particularly sheep and goats, and was the first ‘popular’ fabric, available to the masses when cotton and silk were reserved for royalty and the upper classes. Because of the immense popular demand for wool, it became a keystone of Europe’s economy during the medieval era. In the early 1200s, England became the main producer of wool and the popularity and the accompanying industry only continued to grow. While England is still a large producer of wool, and is proud of the role the textile has played in its country’s heritage, the main producers of the fiber in today’s market are China, Australia, and New Zealand. Because wool is an organic material, derived from animal coats, it must go through a meticulous process of cleaning and classification in order to render it useful as a material. After shearing, the raw wool, called ‘grease wool,’ is cleaned by hand and in a bath of soap and water to remove dirt, lanolin, and skin cells. The lanolin that is created through this process is a common ingredient in many lotions and personal care items. The cleaned wool is separated from the less desirable bits and spun into yarn of different colors and weights. While wool is often thought of as a very warm, but scratchy and irritating fabric, new types of yarn and wool hybrids such as Merino wool and silk/wool blends are radically altering our common perception of this fabric. Increasingly, fashion designers are turning to wool even for the most luxurious designs. Through their revolutionary online marketplace, Source4Style allows creatives to source a wide variety of wholesale wool fabrics direct from leading suppliers such as Huddersfield Cloth, Hunters of Brora, and GRM International.
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Wool is a natural fiber, sourced primarily from the coats of sheep, however it can also be derived from llamas, alpacas, and goats. Wool is traditionally used to create warm, durable textiles for use as clothing and home goods. It is often made into apparel for cold climates such as scarves, coats, sweaters, suits, and hats, and is increasingly being used to create durable deco...
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