The Wool Life: From Sheep to Sweater
Sheep are one of the oldest domesticated animals and have been used for centuries to produce wool. The production process spans from shearing to spinning, dyeing, weaving, and knitting. Each step is vital to create a yarn product. However, it is extensive and takes a ton of resources to complete. In this article, we shortly cover what that journey looks like.
Raising The Lambs
The first step is to raise the lambs. Once they're born, they need to be raised for their first six months before being shorn, which is when they get sheared off all the wool that has grown on them over this time.
Shearing The Sheep
Once they are old enough and have enough of an outer coat, the sheep are sheared. This process can take between 2 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on how experienced the person shearing the sheep is. Shearing is a real sport and an immense physically demanding activity.
Cleaning And Carding Of The Wool
From there, the wool will need to be cleaned and carded or combed. This process involves taking the cleaned raw wool and combing it out on a machine to align all fibers in one direction for easier processing.
Spinning The Wool Into Yarn
The next step is for the fibers to be spun into yarn. This means that they are then twisted together in a specific way to create a stronger strand of material, which can later be made into different products such as sweaters and blankets. This can be ofcourse be done by hand as many handspinners take real price in producing the most beautiful lofty yarns. However, the yarn used in products you see in stores is always mechanically made in spinning factories.
The yarn can then be dyed, depending on what color you want it to become. Once again, this process requires the sheep's coat to be processed mainly with chemical dyes. Even better would be to use undyed yarn or use recycled wool that is sorted by colour and then re-spun, saving at least one round of dyeing!
Weaving and knitting
At that point, professionals can use the yarn to weave or knit it into different products. Depending on the specific product you want to end up with, this can require a lot of time and effort even from professionals who know what they're doing...
Depending on the specific product, some wool can be recycled. For example, sweaters that are too worn out or damaged tend to get sent back into the system to be turned into different yarns again!
I hope you've enjoyed this journey throughout the process of how wool gets turned into a sweater. It's essential to know the process to understand how great alternatives like 100% recycled wool made from clothing can be to cut out a lot of processing and wasted resources.