Wool, common name applied to the soft, curly fibres obtained chiefly from the fleece of domesticated sheep, and used extensively in textile manufacturing. Wool may be differentiated from hair mainly by the nature of the scales that cover the outer surface of each fibre. Wool scales are numerous, minute, and pointed and are attached only at their bases; thus the fibres interlock under pressure . The number of scales varies with the fineness and curliness of the fibre. Because of its crimp, or curl, wool has considerable resilience. This quality, together with its high tensile strength and elasticity, gives fine woollen fabrics the ability to avoid wool deformation,
retain shape better than cloth made from other natural fibres. Other characteristics of wool, which make it especially desirable for clothing, are its lightness, its ability to absorb moisture, and its insulating properties.
Wool fabrics are not homogeneous. They are constructed by means of knitting, felting and weaving and they vary in their weights and textures. Thus wool can be thick and thin, soft and stiff. But what matters the most is that all wool varieties are very comfortable not only because of their gentle feel, but also because of their wonderful insulating property. This unique quality of wool keeps the warmth in when it is cold and out when it is hot. Another useful feature of wool that needs mention is its ability to absorb moisture while shedding dirt. Along with positive qualities wool fabric possesses several disadvantages and the likelihood of wool deformation is one of them. In order to avoid shrinking, it is advisable to buy garments which have been preshrunk. This property is usually marked on the labels, along with specific fiber percentages, sometimes using such synonymous attributes as needle-ready or sponged.
If the fabric is not labeled as allowing for relaxation shrinkage, it is recommended to test it for shrinking using the steam iron applied to the wool fabric covered by a dry cloth for approximately eight seconds. If puckering appear along outlines of the iron at the end of the experiment, this means that the fabric under the test
would shrunk if handled improperly. Wool deformation involves not only shrinking , but also the loss of whiteness when the fabric is chlorinated for the purpose of shrinkage control. Along with a positive effect this procedure has such negative consequences as pilling and fiber ends interlocking.
It is an open secret that cunsumer tastes and preferences become more and more sophisticated when it comes to wearing clothes. Easy care, soft hand, comfort and durability are a top priority nowdays. In order to meet the increasing demands for the wool fabrics' performance, numerous experiments have been done and new fabric varieties have been invented. The researchers have also come up with new chemicals, which replaced the ones causing yellowness in wool fabrics which were subject to shrinkage control. The problem of undesired stretching has also been addressed appropriately and as a result a new and promising "optim" technology has been introduced.
Recent research has shown, that it is possible to alleviate wool deformation by preserving its natural mechanical properties.
Provided appropriate efforts are made, wool garments can be manufactured without any shrinking, stretching or other kinds of wool deformation.