Woman carding wool

A Wooly Tale

In Ohio sheep are raised in flocks and after the sheep
are shorn, the wool is sold to wool buyers who then sell
it to the mills where it is then made into yarn or fabric.
Wool bales
Wool bales in a warehouse
before processing.

Wool Washing

The wool must be washed because there is usually a lot of dirt from the barn and fields and there is lanolin, or grease, that kept the sheep's skin from getting dry. In modern mills, there are huge vats that can wash thousands of pounds of wool at once!


Some pieces of clothing that you buy are the natural color of the sheep's wool, but often, you buy sweaters and socks that are brilliant colors and patterns. The wool mills usually use chemical dyes and can color the wool either right after it is washed, after the yarn is made, or after the fabric is woven into clothing or some other product. Some handcrafters like to experiment with dyes that are made from such things as fruit, berries, tree bark, wildflowers, or even sea shells!


Carding removes all the dirt and grass that the wash missed and lines up all the fibers of wool in one direction in order to make yarn . In large wool factories, a system of rollers with wire teeth makes the wool fit for spinning.

Woman hand-spinning wool
A woman hand spinning wool into thread.


Spinning the wool is necessary to stretch the fibers into threads that can be used in weaving. Spinning may be done by hand, as in the picture to the left; but in many mills, large machines are able to spin a lot of wool in a very short time.


In a loom, two sets of yarn are stretched at right angles to each other and then by weaving them together or interlacing them one over the other, cloth is made! Looms may be small wooden tools that people can operate by hand, but in many large factories, looms are big machines that are run by computer cards that tell the machine when to use which colors.

Fabric for you!

After the wool is processed it can be used
to make blankets, clothing, fabric, or yarn.
Woman knitting a sweater
A woman knitting a wool sweater.

Are you wearing anything today made of wool? Look around your house when you go home tonight and see how many items you can find made with wool!
List the correct sequence that must happen in order to make socks from a sheep's wool!

Story adapted from the Wool Education Center

Return to sheep!