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Natural Textile Fibers

December 19, 2014

Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids. Every wool fiber has a natural elasticity and wave or crimp that allows it to be stretched as much as one-third and then spring back into place. Its complex cellular structure also enables it to absorb moisture vapor, but repel liquid. No synthetic fiber has been able to combine all of these characteristics. Wool characteristics serve to make it the most unique, completely natural and multipurpose fiber available.Sheep wool has the capability to keep the body at at even temperature because it does not trap heat, it insulates instead. This means that in hot weather it keeps the animal (or you) cool and in cold weather it keeps them (or you) warm.
Wool clothing does not cling to the skin like rayons or nylons and even cottons do. This allows for air circulation next to your skin and is part of the insulation properties and comfort of wearing wool.
It readily absorbs water and can also release it. Again it does not trap. For sheep this prevents moisture from being held at the skin. It prevents the clammy, cold feeling you may experience when wearing some types of synthetic clothing and sweating. Because of this feature though, it dries out slowly.It is naturally fire resistant meaning it does not readily burn. This feature is what makes wool attractive as an insulating material in homes.Felting is the nature of most animal fur that allows it to entangle and form mats of fabric. The fibers (strands) can interlock with each other due to ridges on the individual fibers. Sheep wool is highly regarded for its ability to felt and form fabrics that are near impossible to tear.
Felting is the wool characteristic that causes your wool sweater to shrink each time you wash it in warm or hot soapy water and subject it to to rough treatment (ie the washing machine).
Sheep wool is very strong and durable partly due to it's felting feature. The fibers are strong and will hold together through much twisting and turning, much like a lock of hair. This feature is what creates such long lasting garments.