Fibre to Fabric

Start music   Jan 11 2017 || 12:56 PM

Animal Fibres

  • Wool is obtained from the fleece (hair) of sheep or yak
  • Silk is obtained from cocoons of silk moth




How does wool keep animals warm?

  • Wool, being the ‘Hair’ of the animals, traps a lot of air
  • Air is a poor conductor of heat
  • So this trapped air keeps the animal from feeling cold


Animals that yield wool:

  • Sheep (most common), goat, yak and some other furry animals
  • Yak wool is common in Tibet and Ladakh
  • Angora wool is obtained from angora goats from the state of J&K
  • The under fur of Kashmiri goat is soft & its wool is woven into fine Pashmina shawls
  • Llama and Alpaca in South America also yields wool


Types of Sheep wool

  1. The coarse beard hair
  2. The fine soft under-hair close to the skin

The fine hair provide the fibres for making wool


Fibre to wool

Rearing of sheep

  • Sheep are herbivores and prefer grass and leaves
  • They are also fed with mixture of pulses, corn, jowar, oil cakes and minerals
  • In winter, sheep are kept indoors and fed on leaves, grain and dry fodder


Breeding of Sheep

  • Certain breeds of sheep have thick coat of hair on their body which yields good quality wool in large quantities
  • They are specially chosen to give birth to sheep which have only soft under-hair.
  • This process of selecting parents for obtaining special characters in their offspring is termed ‘selective breeding’.


Processing fibres into wool

Step 1 – Shearing

  • The fleece of the sheep along with a thin layer of skin is removed from its body
  • The hair is usually removed during the hot weather
  • The hair provides woollen fibres, they are processed to obtain woollen yearn


Step 2 – Scouring

  • The sheared skin with hair is thoroughly washed in tanks to remove grease, dust and dirt


Step 3 – Sorting

  • Hair of different textures are separated or sorted.


Step 4

  • The small fluffy fibres, called burrs, are picked out from the hair
  • The fibres are scoured again and dried. They are ready to be drawn into fibres


Step 5 – Dyeing

  • The natural fleece of sheep and goats is black, brown or white.
  • The fibres can be dyed in various colours in this stage


Step 6

  • The fibres are straightened, combed and rolled into yarn


Occupational hazard while rearing sheep

  • Sheep sometimes get infected by the bacterium, anthrax,
  • Anthrax causes a fatal blood disease called sorter’s disease
  • It is called sorter’s disease since the ‘sorter’ of different hair textures get infected during the ‘sorting stage’

  • Silk 
    Sericulture – The practice of rearing of silkworms for obtaining silk
  • Life history of silk

  • Stage 1: Female silk moth lays eggs
  • Stage 2: Eggs hatch into larvae called silk worms/caterpillars
  • Stage 3: Silk worm grows in size and begins to develop into Pupa
    • It swings its head from side to side in the form of the figure of eight (8)
    • During this movement the caterpillar secretes fibre made of a protein
    • This fibre which hardens on exposure to air and becomes silk fibre
    • Soon the caterpillar completely covers itself by silk fibres and turns into pupa.
    • This covering is known as cocoon
    • Stage 4: The silk yarn (thread) is obtained from the cocoon of the silk moth

    Different types of silk

    Difference between different types of silk is due to the different varieties of silk moth that yields silk fibres in different textures


    Mulberry silk

  • The most common silk (from mulberry moth)
  • Silk is soft, lustrous and elastic

    Other types of silk

  • Tassar silk,
  • Eri silk,
  • Mooga silk

    Cocoon to Silk

    Rearing of silkworms

  • A female silk moth lays hundreds of eggs at a time
  • The eggs are stored carefully on strips of cloth or paper and sold to silkworm farmers
  • Eggs are kept under suitable conditions of temperature and humidity
  • Eggs are then warmed to a suitable temperature for the larvae to hatch
  • This is done when mulberry trees bear a fresh crop of leaves
  • Larvae are kept in clean bamboo trays along with freshly chopped mulberry leaves
  • The silkworms eat day and night for 25-30 days and increase enormously in size
  • Then they stop eating & start spinning cocoons
  • Small racks or twigs may be provided in the trays to which cocoons get attached

    Processing of Silk

  • The cocoons are kept under the sun or boiled or exposed to steam
  • The silk fibres separate out.
  • The process of taking out threads from the cocoon for use as silk is called reeling the silk