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Apparel Wool Wool suitable for manufacture into clothing products.

Belly Fibre shorn from the belly of the animal, usually heavy in condition and often containing vegetation. In the case of male animals the portion around the pizzle is stained with urine.

Blow Each sweep of the hand piece or shears in the shearing process.

Board That part of the shearing shed where the sheep and goats are shorn.


Bulk Line The sale lot from a clip into which the majority of fibre has been placed.

Burr Particular varieties of seed heads found in wool and other fibres such as clover burr.

Catching Pen The pen from which the shearer catches an animal for shearing.

Classing The grading of wool or other animal fibres into similar categories, taking into consideration such factors as type, fineness, length, style and fault.

Clip Quantity of shorn wool from a defined area (farm or locality) or group of sheep.

Coloured Wool A term used to describe wool with melanin pigmentation.


Condition Refers to the amount of non-wool constituents, such as yolk, sand, earth etc. present in greasy wool.

Cortex Dense fibrous central region of a fibre.

Cotts Matted fleeces which require an additional opening operation prior to the normal opening at the start of the scouring chain.

Cotted Portions Matted parts of a fleece, usually around the points, which require an additional opening process.

Crutchings Wool removed from around the tail end of sheep usually in the autumn/winter to prevent flystrike and to also make it easier for lambs to feed from the udder.

Cuticle Surface layer of wool and hair fibres consisting of overlapping scales.

Cutter Reciprocating unit of shearing handpiece which cuts the fibre against the stationary comb.

Dags Animal fibre contaminated with hard clumps of dried faeces, which is either adhering to, or has been clipped from, the anal area.

Down Tube Jointed tube containing a flexible drive shaft connecting a shearing handpiece to an individual electric motor or overhead gear.

Ewe Female sheep.

Expert Australian term for the person who grinds the shearing gear and keeps the handpieces and plant in order.

Eye Clip or Wiggings Wool shorn from the face and head of sheep to prevent wool blindness and which contains a high proportion of kemps.

Fault Any factor which limits a fibres end use or incurs extra processing cost.

Fellmonger Person who removes the wool from sheep skins, and treats pelts.

Fellmongery The premises where wool is removed from sheep-skins to produce slipe wool and treated pelts.

Fibre Diameter (Mean) The average thickness of fibres in any parcel expressed in micrometers (or microns).

Fine Fibre assessed to be the thinner diameter within a breed, flock or clip.

Fleece The coat of an animal.

Follicle Tubular depression in the skin from which a hair or wool fibre grows.


Free or nearly free (FNF) Free or nearly free of vegetable matter (VM). A term used to describe wool containing 1% or less V.M.

Full wool Wool shorn annually.

Greasy Wool Wool in its natural state as shorn off the sheep.

Hair Fibre similar in chemical composition to wool but containing a medulla.

Halfbred Wool Broadly used to describe wools of half Merino and half long wool breeding.

Hand-knotted carpet A carpet made by knotting tufts of pile yarn onto the warp threads as the fabric is woven by hand.


IWS The International Wool Secretariat. A partnership body funded by woolgrowers from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and Uruguay, for wool promotion and research world-wide.

IWTO The International Wool Textile Organisation - a body representing the interest of the world's wool-textile trade and industry with membership on a national basis. IWTO covers standards for wool testing, terms of contract and arbitration and is a forum for the international wool-textile trade and industry.

Kemps Short, straight, brittle, hairy fibres that are shed and remain in the fleece.

Keratin Chemical substance of which animal fibre is composed.

Lambs Wool Wool shorn from lambs. It is characterised by a curly tip and soft handle and is generally finer and higher yielding than full length fleece wool from mature sheep of the same breed.

Lanolin A product from the refining of wool grease (wax) recovered during scouring and which is used in cosmetics, ointments and a range of other products.

Liming The use of lime and sodium sulphide solution to dissolve all remaining wool from pulled sheep skins or to remove hair from cattle skins.

Line Several bales of fibre of a similar type.

Locks Very short staples of fibre and second cuts, which fall from the fleece during shearing and skirting.

Lot One or more bales of similar dimensions and weight within commercial limits and of similar fibre type, individually identified by number and marks of origin and put together for the purpose of sale.

Lustre The manner in which fibres reflects light. A characteristic of most strong wools and mohair.

Medium The middle fibre diameter range within a clip.

Medulla Core of large air-filled pockets between collapsed cells which occur in the centre of hair fibres. Fibres containing a medulla are called medullated and have a different appearance to unmedullated fibres. In kemp, the medulla forms the greatest portion of the fibre and is surrounded by a comparatively thin layer of cortex.

Medullated Fibres Fibres containing a medulla, or hollow core, which makes it stiff and hairy. Meduallated fibres appear chalky because light is reflected from the inner wall.

Merino Wool Fine apparel wool grown by sheep with more than three-quarters Merino blood.

Micron The standard unit of fibre diameter measurement being one millionth of a metre.

Neck The collar of fibre from under the animal's neck which is often matted and contains vegetable matter.

New Wool Wool which has not previously been manufactured.

Oddments Lines of fibre other than the main body section, eg. necks, pieces, bellies, crutchings, locks and eyeclips.

Off-Type Fleeces which do not match the main lines of a clip and which should be kept separate. These could include fleeces with different breeding to the bulk of the clip, very fine or very strong and badly faulted wools.

Painting The application of a chemical depilatory to facilitate the removal of the wool from sheep skins, with the wool remaining in good order.

Pen Stain Green excreta contamination on wool caused by close contact with daggy or defecating sheep. Causes shading problems in dyed product.

Pendulum A magnetic holder used to hold shearing combs and cutters for sharpening.

Permanently Discoloured Wool which shows yellow discolouration which cannot be removed during the scouring process. Such fibre should not be used for a pastel shade product and a dark shade is advisable.

Pie wool Wool traditionally recovered from the head and shanks of skin pieces of slaughtered sheep after decomposition of the skin tissue. Process now replaced with slipemaster process using hot water.

Pieces Poorer coloured, shorter heavy conditioned portions, skirted from the perimeter of the fleece.

Pigmentation Black or coloured fibres formed by malanocyte cells producing minute pigment granules, which evolve in the follicle.

Pizzle Stain Urine stained fibres from the bellies of male animals or crutch of female animals.

Porthole Opening or doorway through which sheep leave the shearing board after shearing.

Pressing Compressing loose fibre into bales in either a shearing shed or store.

Processing Faults Faults which when present in animal fibres are of a permanent nature eg. canary yellow, or which will need addtional work by the processor in order to rectify or remove eg. cotts, vegetable matter.

Quality Number System A subjective system of assessing the fineness of wool using an arbitrary number. Originally the number indicated potential spinning ability. With this system, the finer the wool the higher the quality number

Raw Wool Greasy wool; wool which has been scoured, carbonised, washed or solvent degreased; scoured skin wools; washed skin wools; and slipe wools. It consists of wool fibre together with variable amounts of vegetable matter and extraneous alkali insoluble impurities, mineral matter, wool waxes, suint and moisture. Raw wool has not entered yarn or felt making process.

Scoured Wool Greasy or slipe wools that have been commercially scoured, carbonised, or solvent degreased, excluding washed and partly washed wools.

Scouring Washing wool to remove the natural impurities of wax, suint, and dirt.

Sebaceous glands Glands attached to all primary and some secondary follicles and which secretes wool wax. Merinos with a higher ratio of secondary follicles produce greater quantities of wax than coarse-woolled sheep.

Second cut A staple of animal fibre which has been cut twice.

Second shear wool Wool from sheep shorn more frequently than once every eight months.

Seed Ovules from plants (other than burr producers) which adhere to the wool and other animal fibres to cause vegetable contamination i.e. bidi-bidi, grass seeds, etc.

Semi-Worsted Processing A comparatively modern system developed to provide an alternative route to produce yarns with similar characteristics to worsted spun yarn but in a shorter, more economic way. Because there is no combing step, the wool used in this process must be of good uniform length and free from vegetable matter.

Shearing The operation of removing the fleece from animals by machine or blades. Frequency of shearing may be once a year, twice a year, or three times over two years.

Shearing board Area in shearing shed where animals are shorn.

Shearing shed Synonymous with woolshed. Building in which sheep and goats are shorn. Commonly abbreviated to shed.

Shed Hand Synonymous with woolhandler. Persons, other than shearers, employed to handle and usually prepare the shorn fibre in the shearing shed.

Shive Vegetable matter, usually that contained in the back wool, such as leaves, grass etc . Does not refer to burrs or seed.

Shorn Hogget Fleece off a hogget shorn as a lamb.

Skin Pieces Clumps of wool attached to pieces of skin removed inadvertently during shearing and which, if not removed prior to manufacture, will cause problems in processing.

Slipe Wool Wool removed from the skins of slaughtered animals, by a chemical depilatory which loosens the wool fibres.

Slipemaster Machine used to remove wool from pelt trimmings and head pieces in a fellmongery, and with the aid of scalding water.

Sound Evenly grown fibre, of good tensile strength throughout the staple length.

Stand Area immediately surrounding an individual shearing machine.

Staples A mass of fibres growing in bunches, or clusters and also known as locks, each of which is held to the adjoining locks by binders or fibres running obliquely from one staple to another.

Strong Wool with a large fibre diameter for its type.

Style The degree of excellence or fault in a line. A subjective term broadly used to embrace character, colour, condition, soundness, freedom from seed and other faults.

Suint Natural water soluble impurity present in wool and some other animal fibres, secreted from the sudoriferous or sweat gland attached to the follicle.

Sweating Method of dewoolling skins dependent on induced bacterial degradation to loosen the wool within the skin.

Tare The weight of packaging material enclosing the fibre in the bale.

Tender Fibre with a tensile weakness along a portion of the staple length.

Unsound Fibres which are weak or tender in tensile strength.

Wool grease Natural impurities of wool (wax and suint) secreted by glands attached to the wool follicle. Also called yolk.

Woollen Processing The yarn produced by woollen carding and spinning (condenser spun), and which is bulkier and fuzzy compared to other yarns. These characteristics carry through to the texture of the fabrics and knitted wares.

Woolmark Registered IWS trade mark denoting products made from pure new wool, which also meet strict performance criteria.

Wool table Slatted table on which fleeces are skirted and may be classed.

Worsted Processing The branch of the textile trade which uses mainly the longer stapled fibres which are gilled to align the fibres and combed to remove the noils and vegetable matter and gilled to straighten the fibres. The yarn produced is very smooth and level and the fabric clear and smooth handling.

Yield The amount of clean fibre, at a standard regain expressed as a percentage of the weight of greasy fibre.


Wools of New Zealand (formerly the New Zealand Wool Board) for the information on shearing from "The Shearing Handbook".

Mr A Marshall, Wools of New Zealand, for background information on the Llama.

Mr B Morrison, R D 3, Eketahuna, for assistance with shearing.

Mr R Dunick, Christchurch, for assistance with shearing the Alpaca.

Mr J Woodward, Mohair Fibres Ltd, for assistance with Mohair and Cashmere fibres.

Mr W R Regnault, Director of Wool Diploma Studies, Massey University, Palmerston North, for assistance with slipe wool production.

Mrs T Reeve, Box 32, Horitu, Waikato, for assistance with Angora Rabbits.

Mrs G Absolon, Box 1681, Palmerston North, for assistance with Angora Rabbits.

Mr R Johnson of Kingston Morrison, Wellington, for assistance with the Yak.

International Mohair Association for assistance with Mohair Production.

MAF (Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries) for assistance with Angora Goats and Cashmere Goats.

NZ Society of Animal Production, 1992, Vol. 52, for assistance with Shearing the Alpaca.

The Economist Intelligence Unit Report, "Luxury Fibres" for assistance with background information on the Angora Goat, Cashmere Goat, Camel, Angora Rabbit, Llama and the Yak.

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