How is wool made?

Most of us know that wool comes from the coats of sheep. But why is wool a better option than other fibres when it comes to making clothing? And do you know how woollen yarn is made, or how it goes from sheep to your wardrobe?

Sustainability and tradition

The United Nations have warned that fast fashion is harming the earth. Unlike man-made fibres that can leave nasty microfibres in the environment when laundered, wool is totally natural and is a sustainable option for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint.

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Opting for quality items from sustainable materials like wool can also be the ethical option, as the processes used to make them are often much more steeped in tradition and local communities. Take for example Irish fisherman jumpers or mens Aran cardigans produced by specialists such as who have a long history producing items steeped in Irish tradition and symbolism, with wool produced from sheep on the islands.

How wool is made

At the end of winter, sheep are sheared, ideally removing all of the wool in one. Once the wool is removed, it is washed to remove dirt and detritus. The wool fibres then get pulled through metal teeth that straighten the fibres and make them pliable. In the olden days, this was done with combs but is now done with machines in most cases. The fibres are then pulled into strands called ‘rovings’, that look akin to a ball of cotton wool.

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Spinning and dying

The strands of wool are then spun together to make strong yarn. Depending on the producer, the wool might be dyed at this stage or earlier in the process, at the roving stage. Yarn can come in all kinds of colours and thicknesses, depending on what it is going to be used for.

Weaving and knitting

Woollen yarn is used to make clothing and homewares, including blankets, scarves, jumpers and jackets. While manufacturers can use machines in an industrial process, hand-stitched items are rare and beautiful and in increasing demand. Crafters also use yarn to create their own items.