Have you ever wondered what wool is and how we get it from animals?
Every component of our world, Montessori noted, has a “cosmic task” to perform. This cosmic task is carried out as a result of the day-to-day actions of each, and contributes to the maintenance of balance and harmony for all. (To Educate the Human Potential, 44–45)
In the classroom children have been studying the Interdependencies, the interrelationships that existed and exist between various living and nonliving aspects of the world. Moreover, children studied the fundamental needs we as humans have, considering food, transportation and clothing.
A great activity to have a better understanding of this connection was to see the process of sheep shearing, and consequently the processes of Sorting, Cleaning, Carding and Roving the wool.Have you ever wondered what wool is and how we get it from animals? More importantly, how does this wool get transformed into sweaters and other types of apparel?
Giving haircuts to sheep is an ancient practice. Many of you may also be curious as to how we get the hair off the sheep and how that wool is converted into the comfortable woolen sweaters we love to wear in cold weather. Well, a sheep haircut is similar to our haircut, but it’s technically called sheep shearing. To shear a sheep basically means to trim the wool from the sheep’s body.
Sheep grow wool on their bodies to keep themselves warm and protected during bone-chilling winters. In their natural habitat, this wool tends to tangle on fences or low-tree branches and is gradually shed off, meaning that sheep are shedding wool even in their natural habitat.
When the winter ends and summer begins, sheep don’t really need all that wool to protect themselves, which makes it a good time to pilfer that wool from the sheep. Now let’s see what happens to this wool and how does it get converted into apparel?
Well, years ago the wool obtained from sheep shearing was taken to people’s houses to undergo several stages of processing before the final woolen wear is knitted.
First the wool is unclean and messy, so the first step is to sort it, after sorting, wool needs to be cleaned. Sheep, like other herbivores, tend to roam around unconcerned about dirt. While grazing, they pass through plants and trees, and while doing so, their wool commingles with leaves, twigs, and even bugs. Now, no one wants these to be in their winter wear, so this sorted wool is thoroughly washed with water and soap.
As the wool is washed, dirt and other plant remnants come off. After cleaning and drying the wool, the next step is carding. Back in time, Carding was done by hand, but big wool producers nowadays use the help of specialized machines that separate the woolen fiber and straighten it.
Lastly, we made a long line with the carded pieces of wool and then we started roving it into a spinning spindle where the wool gets spun together tightly, making a long thin rope of yarn.