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What Is Wool Thread?

Spun wool threads can be woven into fabrics using a loom.
Wool is shorn from sheep.
Wool thread can be dyed into a variety of colors.
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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2014
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Wool thread is a long, fine cord spun out of multiple fibers of wool. Thicker varieties of wool thread are sometimes called wool yarn. Wool is the fuzzy fur shaved from sheep. This type of thread is used in sewing to make items like clothing and blankets, but it is most often used in embroidery and needle art, where the thread is dyed and used as part of a colorful design. Wool thread can be made from different types of wool, each lending its own unique characteristics to the fabrics made from it.

Types of wool often used in wool thread include Icelandic wool, lamb's wool, and Shetland wool. Though the term can refer to any wool made in Iceland, an island country located near Greenland and Scandinavia, Icelandic wool is generally made up of a combination of coarse and fine wool fibers that give the wool softness and durability. Lamb's wool is usually the first wool shorn from a young lamb. Usually used in warm jackets or rugs, Shetland wool is fleece from a different kind of sheep called a Shetland sheep.

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One type of wool thread used in needlework is called tapestry wool, and it is used for embroidery as well as tapestry work. Tapestry differs from embroidery and needlepoint. While embroidery and needlepoint involve stitching a design into an existing material, a tapestry is woven on a vertical loom, an upright weaving tool used for carpet and rug weaving. The base or ground thread that is loaded on the loom for weaving is usually a strong fiber like cotton or linen, and the weaving thread is often a more delicate and attractive fiber like colored silk, cotton, or wool thread. Though many people erroneously refer to decorative hanging embroidered cloths as tapestries, a true tapestry is a fully woven fabric piece that hangs on the wall.

Because weaving a tapestry requires the use of needles to guide the vibrant threads through the base threads, called the warp and weft, used in tapestry works, the art is considered a form of needlework. Other types of needlework include needlepoint and embroidery. Traditionally, needlepoint is done on a canvas base using cotton or wool thread, and the designs are made of a series of counted cross stitch unites, each of which looks like an x. Embroidery is done on a piece of cloth, and allows the application of more free-form stitching than traditional needlepoint.

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Monika
Post 5

Ah, wool thread. My grandmother is a big fan of it. She uses wool thread to embroider stuff all the time. I'm always amazed at the many different colors and shades of wool thread that are available. My grandma makes some really intricately shaded projects.

Anyway, like I said, my grandma is a huge fan of wool thread. Sometimes I think she's too big a fan, because she pretty much refers to all yarn or embroidery thread as "wool." I think it's a generational thing, because all her friends do it too. 100% acrylic yarn from the craft store? Wool! Fancy silk thread? Nope, still wool! I think it's pretty entertaining.

SZapper
Post 4

@ceilingcat - Good tips. I know a lot about wool myself, because I'm a knitter. However, I'm allergic to wool. Let me assure you this is quite the tragedy for a knitter. Wool is one of the best fibers available, and I'm constantly hearing about how great it is! Not to mention all the specialty hand dyed wools that are available.

Anyway, even though I can't use wool I don't skip over the sections about it when I read knitting books. As the article mentioned, different types of wool thread come from different types of sheep. I know in the knitting community "merino" wool is very popular.

All these different kinds of wool have slightly different properties. Some are softer than others, for example. If you're a crafter, I would urge you to try out a bunch of different kinds of wool so you can see which one you like best. Unless you have a wool allergy like I do-in that case stay away!

ceilingcat
Post 3

@John57 - If you wanted to buy wool thread for a craft project but you're worried about cleaning it, try washable wool. I know washable wool yarn is usually labeled as "superwash" yarn. I believe it's treated a certain way so you can wash it just like any other garment.

As far as 100% wool, you could always hand wash it. I know there are a few products available on the market that are available specifically for washing wool by hand.

If you want to use wool for a craft project, don't let the cleaning scare you! Just explore your options!

myharley
Post 2

I have a cardigan cable sweater made from Shetland wool that I absolutely love. This is one of the warmest and softest sweaters I have and it even comes in a soft lavender/blue color.

Often times I would not buy clothing made from wool because it had to be dry cleaned and I wanted something that was easier to take care.

I am not sure about all Shetland wool products, but I can machine wash this sweater and lay it flat to dry and it looks great.

Because I love the look and feel of this wool, I am planning on buying a pair of mittens and matching hat for this winter.

John57
Post 1

I love using wool thread, but am careful when deciding which particular projects to use it for. I love the warmth of wool, but you have to be very careful when you clean the wool garment, so will often shy away from it.

I have also learned through the years to purchase as much thread as I need to complete one project. I have a bad habit of starting a project, then getting side tracked and not picking it up for a while again.

This happened a few years ago, and the color of wool thread I was using was discontinued by the company. I was able to find what I needed online to finish the project, but learned my lesson on that one.

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