Wool Processing







Processing Overview

There are processes involved in wool production?

1.       Shearing

2.       Washing

3.       Blending

4.       Carding

5.       Spinning

6.       Weaving

7.       Fulling & finishing

8.       Chemical Finishes


Grease wool is processed into its finished products by either the worsted or woolen system. 

       Worsted system

In the worst system, the wool is combed after drying.  This is method is only used on longer wools, and as a result the fibers are laid parallel to one another.  Worsted materials normally have a smooth finish, and are extremely durable.  Some examples of worsted products include suits, dresses, and gabardines.

       Wollen System

     Wools of short length are often used in the wollen system.  In this system the wool is not combed, but rather carded.  As a result, the materials are thicker, and garments look bulky in appearance.  Some examples of the wollen products include, sweaters, and carpets.

Processing Wool    

1.      The first step in processing wool is shearing.

2.      Next, the wool must be washed; in order to remove grease and other impurities the wool could have accumulated while being out in the feedlot.

        This is done by the wool being moved through a series of tubs, which are filled with soapy water.  The first tub is set at a very warm 140 F, and then rinsed off in cold water.    It is during this step, that the lanolin (grease of wool), is separated off, and later used to help make cosmetics and soaps.

3.      The wool is then passed through a series of rollers and dryers.

4.      Wool from different batches are then mixed together mechanically, thus creating a slightly different set of colors.  This in turn, helps create a standard staple length and diameter, for the wool.

5.      The clean wool is then passed through rollers, which in turn, straighten the fibers and removing unwanted matter.

       Rollers do vary in size and speed, which forms a thin web of fibers.

6.      Slivers, or continuous ropes are then formed by the use of steel fingers which divide  

      the wool and roll the strands on top of one another.

7.      Coarser fibers, are then twisted into ropelike structures, a process called roving.

8.      Finer fibers are then combed and prepared for spinning into yarn.

9.      After spinning, the wool is either woven or knitted.

       Weaving interlocks to pieces of yarn at right angles to one another. 

       Knitting interlocks yarns and loops and is done much faster than hand knitting.

10. The fabric is then passed through quality control inspection, where imperfections

such as broken thread, and variations in color are identified.

11. If the fabric passes inspection it then continues on to the fulling stage.  Here the fabric shrinks both in length and width. 

12.  The type of system the wool was processed by determines the type of finishing the fabric will have.

       Woolens are brushed, and worsteds are often enhanced by special treatments.

13. Crabbing is the next step the fabric will go through.  In this process the fabric goes through hot and then cold water in order to set the cloth.

14.  Sponging is done in order to prevent the fabric form shrinking.  This is done by dampening the fabric with a sponge, and then rolling it in muslin.

15. Chemical finishes are then added to the wool, but the amount and type is determined by the end products use.