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Animal fibre that is the protective covering, or fleece, of sheep or such other hairy mammals as goats and camels. Wool is readied by washing (lanolin is the by-product), carding, sometimes combing, then spinning. Coarser than such textile fibres as cotton, linen, silk, and rayon, wool is resilient after limited stretching or compression, so fabrics and garments made from wool tend to retain shape, drape well, and resist wrinkling. Wool is warm and lightweight and takes dyes well. Woolen yarns, usually made from shorter fibres, are thick and full and are used for such items as tweed fabrics and blankets. Worsteds usually are made from longer fibres.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on wool, visit Britannica.com.