What are the Different Uses of Wool?
Wool, a fiber from the hairs of animals such as sheep, goats, and yaks, is a textile with an immense number of uses. One of the major uses of wool is in garment production, but this fiber can be used for many other things. Around 80% of the world's wool goes into garments like sweaters, hats, and coats, leaving 20% to be used in some surprising and interesting ways. Many of the uses of wool are very ancient, but people are constantly developing new applications for this versatile fiber.
People have been utilizing wool for thousands of years for both decorative and functional purposes. This fiber has a number of advantages, including durability, flexibility, and water resistance. Varying grades of wool can range from extremely soft fibers which can be used against the skin to more coarse fibers which are more suited to tasks such as stuffing and insulating. The variety of uses of wool ensure that every little is wasted.
Wool utilized in garment production can be woven, knitted, crocheted, felted, and worked in other ways. In addition to being used as a fabric for clothes such as sweaters, hats, pants, coats, and scarves, wool can also be used for embroidery and other threadwork. Wool fabric can also be used for blankets, drapes, and upholstery. In addition to being suitable for wear by humans, wool can also be utilized to make saddle pads, blankets, and other equipment for working animals such as horses and camels. Horse blankets and similar accessories can also be made from wool to provide extra warmth and insulation in cool environments.
Stuffing for furniture can be made from wool, and recycled wool can be utilized to make insulation and sound proofing. Wool's loft makes it ideal for soundproofing applications. Wool also has a long history of being used in carpets and carpet padding. Wool carpets are famously durable, with rich, long-lasting colors, and wool carpet padding adds additional insulation and height to carpeting. Other uses for wool include lining pads for other types of flooring, such as floating wood floors.
Felted wool, which is made by creating wool fabric and then treating it so that the fabric compacts and pulls together, has a number of uses. Uses of wool felt include shoes, hats, and waterproof outer garments. It is also famously used in pianos to muffle the impact of the hammers, creating the distinctive sound which differentiates pianos from harpsichords. Other uses of wool which has been felted include padding for table legs, bookshelves, and other furnishings which could otherwise gouge a wood floor, and tablecloths, with the felt creating traction so that the tablecloth cannot slide off.
Wool turtlenecks are hard to find!
Knowing these uses was very helpful to me and some uses are very surprising.
Though wool can be very useful in many applications, I have to say that I prefer cotton and other plant-based fibers for making clothes.
Besides the fact that washing wool clothes is just difficult, I feel that the way in which many animal-based fibers are gathered is done in a violent and inhumane way.
Though some small farmers do shear their sheep or gather other animal-based fibers in an appropriate manner, the larger companies that rely on mass quantities of animal-based fibers often sacrifice the well-being of the animals simply to increase efficiency.
You can help to stop this by only choosing responsibly sourced products, or those made with responsibly sourced fibers. Not only do you usually end up getting higher quality goods, you also do your part to help protect the health and well-being of hundreds, if not thousands, of animals.
How do you think that the uses of wool compare to the uses of cotton? Because if you think about it, they can really be used in quite similar ways.
For instance, you have clothes made of cotton, just like with wool, and you also have cotton stuffed furniture and insulation.
Of course, I suppose that cotton is not quite as durable as wool in some aspects. For instance, you couldn't expect a cotton carpet to take the kind of hard use that a wool one does.
And cotton really isn't as warm as wool, so it might not be the best thing to use for a thick winter coat.
However, I think that most things that you can do with wool, you can also do with cotton -- sometimes a lot more cheaply too!
Great article! I'm a big fan of wool clothes, especially for a coat (for women or men). Wool just keeps you so warm, much better than cotton or a synthetic fiber.
I think that it's something to do with the way that wool is structured. It just has a natural heat keeping ability that definitely benefits the sheep, but is even better when it benefits us!
Of course, washing wool can be a little bit of a pain, but I think that the great heat keeping that you get with wool garments is well worth it.
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