The wonder of wool

It’s hard to credit the enormous benefit that wool has given humanity. The simple sheep has provided us not only with a food source but it has proved it’s worth well beyond being a simple meat option.  The wool the sheep produces is by far the best part of its contribution. It is so important to economies that in many countries the sheep outnumber  the human beings in terms of population. Sheep are also beautifully low maintenance animals. They are content to graze on grass, can easily be herded and domesticated and actually need us to remove their woollen coats otherwise they can become ill.

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Wool itself is able to be dyed and tanned. It acts as a natural barrier against the cold and some varieties, like those of the merino Sheep. Its wool is not only soft and warm it even has water resistant qualities. This is why the women of the Aran Islands used it to create their Aran Sweaters. They protected the fishermen as they were out on the storm ridden Atlantic in all windows and weathers. You can get an perfect example of this from  Shamrock Gift,

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Wool is not limited to just sheep. Alpacas and Goats also provide it. The substance comes out of the animal’s epidermis as a hair much the same as ours does.  The greasiness of the untreated wool is quite surprising. Different parts of the animal’s body produce different texture types. The wool on the shoulder is finer than the coarse low regions.

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