Sheep’s Wool – Our Natural Resource
“Walk” is the material that the 60 year history of the Giesswein Company is built on. Wool and its positive characteristics were known as a resource to our ancestors thousands of years ago. The material protects against wind, cold and moisture because walk functions as a temperature regulator (warming and cooling), is water repellent and air-permeable.
The Basic Raw Material – Wool
The wool is obtained from yarn and wool spinning mills based mostly in the EU. The spinning mills buy the wool for the most part from Australia, New Zealand and South America, because there are too few sheep in the EU. The biggest market is the Australian wool exchange. About 160 million sheep live in Australia, which is approximately 14% of the world total.
The Origin of Our Yarns
Sheep are shorn, the fleece is washed and in several steps the wool is combed, stretched, dyed, and spun. At the beginning is the sheep. Through the shearing their coat becomes wool. The shorn raw wool is sorted and washed. This washing takes place in several vats at a constant temperature to prevent felting. During the process gentle bio-degradable detergents are added. Afterwards the wool is dried and sprayed with organic spinning oil to lubricate it for the spinning process.
The washed out, very skin-friendly wool grease is reclaimed from the washing solvent and as lanolin constitutes an important base material of the cosmetic industry. After carding, the separating of the fiber tufts, the wool is combed, which means the secondary fibers are trimmed and parallelized so they can be pulled even finer and smoother. The end product is the fine Kammzug, or combed top, from which the resulting Kammgarn, or worsted yarn, gets its name. The wool is dyed while in the combed top stage before it’s spun tightly into springy yarns. Only then does the yarn arrive at Giesswein.
Only wool that is sheared from living sheep may be called pure virgin wool. The wool from the very first shearing of the approx. 6 month old sheep is called lambswool. The wool is short but especially soft and fine. About 5 kg of wool fleece can be obtained from one sheep. When sheared the curly coat comes off in one complete piece. For the amount of wool processed by Giesswein you would need a herd of 250,000 sheep.