Wool is sheared off of the animal once a year. The shorn wool coat is called a fleece. It is also called “grease wool” because of the oil and lanolin in the wool. This fleece must be cleaned before it can be processed into wool yarn. There is vegetable matter, manure and natural oil that must be removed from the fleece. The grease must be removed from the wool, this can be done by scouring which is submerging the wool into an acid bath that will dissolves the vegetable matter and grease or by using soap or detergent and a lot of water. Then the washed and dried wool is picked which is the process of opening up the wool and turning it into a consistent web. The wool is put through a picker which opens the locks and blows the fluffy wool into a room. At the same time a special spinning oil is added which helps the wool fibers slide against each other but also helps them stick together as a fine web through processing. Next the wool is carded. This can be done with small hand cards that look much like animal brushes. It can also be done on a larger scale with machine driven drums covered with card cloth which combs the wool many times by transferring it back and forth from one drum to the other as it is passed down the series of drums. This is in contrast to worsted combing that lines up all the fibers. The last step in this process divides the web into small strips called pencil rovings. These are collected on large wooden spools on the end. These spools of pencil roving will be placed on the spinning frame to make yarn. The yarn currently has no twist since it is held together by the natural oil and hooks on the surface of the wool. The spinning frame will put a twist on the fibers actually turning it into yarn.
Wools properties consist of having great texture, loft, resiliency, electrical conductivity, thermal retention, cohesiveness, elasticity, abrasion resistance and drape. It is also flame retardant and hydrophilic.