It Starts With A Sheep...
Since ancient times, humans have used sheep's wool to produce a variety of textile products. To fully appreciate the value of today's store-bought wool sweater, one must consider the incredible labor of love required to raise sheep, and the effort it takes to shear these majestic animals yearly. Once a sheep is shorn, the length of its entire coat is layed out as a fleece.
At first, the fleece is full of grass and other debris incidental with the sheep's outdoor lifestyle. Then begins the careful process of skirting the wool to remove initial debris by hand. The fleece is then washed, and finally carded to remove additional debris and to straighten out the fibers.
Carded And Ready To Spin
During the carding process, the straightened wool fibers are aligned lengthwise into long bundles with a slight twist, at which point it is called roving. Once roving is bundled, it is ready for spinning.
Roving can be handspun into yarn by using a drop spindle (pictured above), or a spinning wheel.