Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Definitions: Wool

Like hair that's been to college.

1. Animal hair made into fabric, and then worn by humans, who have no decent pelts of their own, but who think being fuzzy is still a pretty nifty idea.

2. Animal hair fibers, including the hair of the Cashmere or Angora goat, the specialty hair of the camel, alpaca, llama, vicuña, Patagonian hairy lizard-rat, sheep-dog, bushy squirrel, kinky-maned wart hog, or Shetland carrot (for vegans).

The process of converting wool (the fuzzy stuff) into wool (the same fuzzy stuff but with sleeves) is like this: First it is removed, or liberated from the animal, preferably when said animal is preoccupied with something else like eating, watching reality TV, or procreating, and less likely to bite.

The result is fleece. The next step is to remove foreign matter like dirt, bug parts, dead skin, feces, sweat residue, vegetable matter and such-like from the fleece through a process called scouring.

Then the fleece is washed, and the water is retained by the company cafeteria for making a nutritious soup.

The fleece or wool (the non-liquid part) is then carded (combed), spun (twisted), and ends up as yarn (which is another story in itself).

After that they bring in a dog to bark at half of the yarn (to make the woof), and the other half is slightly bent (to make it warp).

Following this step the woof and warp are combined by a complicated, clickety-clackety, dangerous looking device called a loom to make fabric, which is where cloth comes from. (No, the stork did not bring it. Grow up once.)

3. Fuzzy fabric, much favored by hikers, that when you put it on makes you feel like a normal animal again, with a pelt and all. Unless you are a vegan, in which case you feel like Scottish carrot salad.