Once sold, the wool begins its journey to becoming fabric. There are several steps in this pipeline
Scouring – Carbonising
The wool is cleaned removing grease (lanolin), vegetable matter (sticks, grass), and dirt (sand, soil).
Some wool lots require carbonising, involving an additional treatment with diluted sulphuric acid and placing in a very hot oven; the acid attaches to the vegetable matter and in the drying oven this becomes dry and brittle.
The wool is passed through rollers which crush the dry vegetable matter, leaving only clean wool behind.
Carding – Combing
These processes prepare wool for spinning.
Carding removes tangles by passing the clean wool over sets of short wire teeth to open, straighten, and separate the fibres into a uniform mass. The result – a long rope of wool – can be referred to as a combed sliver.
Carded fibres are generally used for producing woollen yarn.
Combing separates out the fibres of the wool through long metal teeth or tines.
The fibres become aligned and parallel to each other. Fibres that are too short, noils, are removed by this process.
The sliver will be wound into a ball and this is known as wool top.
This preparation is generally used in preparation for making a worsted yarn.