CHICAGO — Did you ever hear the story of the man who wore a sheep to his place of business?
I didn’t either.
He had a sheep dog sitting on his shoulders, too, to protect his neck from the cold winter air.
This is a woolly yarn being spun, if ever there was one.
But sheep, and others, do fall into the category of wool providers.
Wool is made from sheep hair, from Angora or Cashmere goat, also from alpaca, camel, llama or vicuna. (Vicuna is a smaller-sized cousin of the alpaca and lives in the Andes mountains of Peru.)
Wool holds large amounts of water and is warm and comfortable. Often it is blended with fibers.
“Wool can be damaged,” writes author Norman Oehlke in American Drycleaner’s The Complete Spotting Guide & More (available at americandrycleaner.com), “by strong alkalis and chlorine bleach; heat, moisture and mechanical action will cause permanent felting shrinkage.”
Note: Felting is an age-old tradition of making wool thicker by filling in the spaces between the threads using various means. We may do a future Yarns Spun Here on Felt and the nomad’s Felt Yurts. (Might be fun to say out loud at a party...“My felt yurts!”)
Wool is .... a protein fiber, forms the curly fleece on sheep, has excellent affinity for dyestuffs, gets a bad rap as uncomfortable, and is cleverly used in idioms like “don’t try pulling the wool over my eyes.”
“Wool can be wet-cleaned and air-dried,” Oehlke writes. “Wet cleaning is best for water-soluble stains.”
Steel wool is, of course, made from the rare “metal alpaca.” You can sometimes hear the herd at night, when the older, rustier critters give off a telltale squeak as they amble by.
Now you’re asking yourself, “Was the goat just pulled over my eyes?”