The wool is obtained shearing, by hand or with mechanical shears, the live animal;
this operation is generally performed once a year in late spring;
sometimes a second shearing is carried out in autumn, obtaining shorter fibers (bistosa wool). The amount of wool that can be obtained from each animal varies from 0.5 to 7 kg per year depending on the breed, age, sex and environmental conditions in which it lives.
Very often animals are shorn without prior washing and give a so-called filthy wool because is full of dirt and greasy skin; sometimes they are washed in running water before shearing to remove all or part of the water-soluble fats and other impurities; the wool obtained from these sheep is called “skipped” and has a yield of 15-20% higher than the dirty wool.
Wool is obtained from various animals and a more or less valuable yarn is obtained depending on the species, let’s see which are the most widespread and used:
-Lambswool is obtained from the shearing of sheep’s lambs and is a very soft and precious wool;
-The Merinos wool is obtained from the shearing of Merinos sheep, an ancient Spanish breed, but now widespread in Australia and New Zealand;
the merino wool yarn is very soft and warm.
-Cashmere is obtained from the underfleece (called duvet) of the cashmere goats and is a very precious and warm wool; it is hypoallergenic due to the lack of lanolin, the fat contained in sheep’s wool.
Curiosity: the finest cashmere is the white one, because the goat tends to have spots on the fleece and only the breast part is used to obtain white.
-The Mohair is obtained from the Angora goat, originally from Turkey and whose farms are concentrated in South Africa, it is obtained a wool with very long and silky fibers, elastic and warm.
-Alpaca, Lama and Vicogna are obtained from three different species of camelids native to North America; today they are widely used in South America, especially in the Andes, even if the breeding is more or less widespread all over the world with great success.
-L’Angora si ottiene dall’omonima razza di conigli, anche questi originari della Turchia e che ormai si alleva anche in Cile, Europa, Stati Uniti e soprattutto Cina; se ne ricava una lana pregiatissima e caldissima, la fibra ha una bassa resistenza e per questo molto spesso è usata in mischia con altri materiali.
-Camel wool always originates in North America; after the migrations that took place in prehistoric times and various crossings, it became the animal we know today; it has a classic beige fleece and a very soft and compact wool is obtained.
-The quiviut is the most valuable and expensive wool; it is obtained from the undercoat of the musk ox, native to North America and now widespread in Canada, Greenland and Alaska.