It’s unarguable that early humans' incredible findings have left a strong base for producing many utilitarian products in the coming age. One such discovery is that of wool, a fiber that helped the human species survive through harsh climatic conditions. The Neolithic humans are believed to have made use of pelts of hunted animals for warmth and protection from predators. Gradually, they realized that the pelts are comfortable and durable, thus paving the way for pioneering processing techniques and tool making, ultimately leading to modern-day woolen fabrics.
At around 4000 B.C, inhabitants from Babylon, a city from Mesopotamia, wore crudely woven wool clothing. With this idea crossing beyond boundaries, soon, people started rearing wool animals like sheep, llamas, rabbits, and even goats. But soon, sheep wool was recognized as the most practical best for use. Later as Britishers learned the art of rearing sheep and Flemings discovering the skills of processing the raw fur, the wool trade flourished in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Englishmen imported their wool to Flanders for processing and transported it back to the land for commercial sale. Realizing the potential of the fur industry, both countries pumped in more resources for its growth. Now, Australia, Argentina, the United States, and New Zealand are the biggest players in the wool business. Here Australian wool accounts for about one-fourth of the world’s wool production while the United States stands as the major consumer.
Wool is composed of a natural protein named ‘keratin’. This fiber is covered with scales that determine its strength and length. Every single strand of wool is made of three essential components; the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla. The cuticle is the outer layer that magnetizes each other to cling and stick, letting the fibers' collection be easily spun into a thread. The cortex is the inner structure made up of millions of cortical cells arranged in a manner giving the material its natural crimp. These cells carry melanin hence enables wool to accept dye colours readily. The medulla is the third and the hollow part running through its center, contributing to the fiber’s flexibility, elasticity, and durability.
Artisan Mrs. Kamaljit Kaur from Andretta village, Himachal Pradesh, runs an art center named ‘Shobha Singh Art Gallery’. Here many training programs are conducted for women and children under the supervision of artisans. A particular type of seasonal camp at the center includes classes on crafting creative pieces from material waste. One among such art forms is woolen thread art. Various types of embroideries, fabric painting, glass painting, quilling, greeting card making, etc., are also taught in those workshops.