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Woolly Jumpers and Sweaters

This film is about the many and varied processes that occur between the shearing of a sheep and the knitting of a fine woolly sweater. The narrative will inspire learning about the seasons of the Earth, selective breeding, and the chemistry of cleaning.

At the start we hear how sheep shearers must move around the world for their work, always chasing after the spring and the summer. The film then explains how the wool we remove from the grateful sheep was thickened by careful selection of breeding stock. Sheep used to be more hairy than woolly, but generations of farmers have bred even more generations of sheep, so that modern sheep are made the other way around - that is to say more woolly than hairy!

As the shorn sheep hobbles off, its greasy old fleece is laid out by the farmer. Next, we see it being cleaned at the scouring plant. The grease (lanolin) protected the sheep from the winter rains and kept it nice and dry, but we don't want it on our clothes! So it is broken up with alkalis. Detergents then carry the grease away.

Once dried, the fleeces are plucked and combed to line up the fibres. This is done by wire brushes in the carding room. The process gets its name from a Latin word meaning 'prickly thistles'.

To the accompaniment of pizzicato music, we see the glory of a thousand spinning wheels as the wool is wound onto bobbins, ready for knitting and displaying in the local wool shop. And all thanks to our dear old friends, the sheep!

Duration: 4:15


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This film is also available on the DVD:
'The Magic of Making - Volume 1'.