Tuesday, January 7, 2020

American Wool

Wool is fiber from sheep. It is used to make many different items. Clothing and other items made of wool have been found dating from the first century B.C. One notable quality of wool is that it can absorb and repel water at the same time. It is very effective in keeping the clothing wearer very warm because it is a great insulator. It has become a very important part of the US Military uniform and it is the single largest consumer of American Wool. The Berry Amendment requires that all U.S. military uniforms be made from 100 percent domestic products.

Different breeds of sheep give wool different qualities which are characteristic of that breed.

I have taken raw wool and processed (cleaned) to spin into yarn. Once it is cleaned, I hand-carded the fiber to get the fibers going in the same direction for spinning. Then I’m able to spin this fiber into yarn. I spin the yarn into separate strands and then ply (or twist) them together to make thicker yarn for different projects.

Yarn can be knitted, crocheted, woven, or felted.


1.     Break students into groups and have them list as many different items that are made out of wool.
2.     List four different breeds of sheep and their characteristics.
3.     Research why wools are considered warmer than cotton.
4.     Have students find an item at home that is made of wool and bring it to class or take a photo of it.
5.     Buy yarn made of different materials (acrylic, cotton, wool) and let the students feel the difference.
6.     Invite a spinner to come to talk about spinning yarn.
7.     Invite a knitter to come to class and teach basic knitting.

What do you know about wool? Please share.

Original Photo by Pat Hensley

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