Fibre and Fabric

Cloth is one of our basic needs. Cloth protects us from heat, cold, rain, dust, insects, etc. Clothes also make one civilized and smart. Clothes are made of cloth. Cloth is also known as fabric. Fabric is made of fibre.

Fibres are two types – Natural and Manmade.
1. Natural fibres– Natural fibres are obtained from plants and animals; such as jute, cotton, wool, silk, etc.
2. Manmade fibres– Fibres that are synthesized in laboratory are called manmade fibre, such as terylene, terry-cotton, acrylic, etc.
3. Natural fibre: Natural fibres can be classified into two types – Plant fibre and Animal fibre.
4. Plant Fibre: Fibre obtained from plants is called plant fibre. For example – cotton, jute, flex, etc.
5. Animal Fibre: Fibre obtained from animals is called animal fibre. For example – wool and silk.

There are many animals that bear a thick coat of hair on their body. Such animals generally live in cold climates. Thick coat of hair over the body of such animals traps lot of air and keep them warm as air is a bad conductor of heat. It prevents the warmth of the body from escaping and also prevents the coldness of the surroundings from entering. Thus, thick layer of hair over their body protects them from harsh cold. For example: Sheep, Goat, Camel, Yak, etc.
Fleece and Wool Bearing Animals
Sheep, goat, Camel, Yak, etc. bear two types of hair – coarse hair and fine-soft under hair. Fine soft hair is found close to the skin in such animals. The fine soft under hair is called fleece. Fibre for wool is obtained from the fleece (hair) of such animals and hence such animals are called wool bearing animals.
Many breeds of sheep are found in India. Sheep gives milk and meat; in addition to wool, but are reared mainly to obtain wool in different parts of the world.
Angora wool is obtained from Angora Goats. Angora Goats are found in hilly regions, such as Jammu and Kashmir. Pashmina wool is obtained from Pashmina Goats. Yak wool is obtained commonly in Tibet and Laddakh. Alpaca and Llama are other animals that give wool.
Selective Breeding and Rearing Of Sheep
Some breeds of sheep bear only a coat of fine hair. Such animals are reared by selective breeding. Selective breeding is the process to obtain animals or plants having special characteristics.
In India, sheep are reared generally in the sates of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, or the plains of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Food of Sheep
Sheep are herbivores and feed generally on grass and leaves. Apart from grass and leaves they also feed on corn and oil cakes. Oil cakes are materials left after obtaining of oil from oil seeds.
Process to obtain wool from sheep
Steps given below are followed to obtain wool from sheep or other wool-bearing animals:
1. Shearing – The fleece (hair) of sheep is shaved off along with a thin layer of skin. In olden days this was done using pair of metal blades. But now-a-days machine is used to cut off the fleece. This is similar to shaving of beards or hair. This process is called shearing.
Shea ring is done generally in summer so that sheep could get new hair by winter to get protection against cold.
2. Scouring – Fleece, after shearing, is washed properly to remove dirt and grease. The washing of fleece; after shearing; is called scouring.
3. Sorting – After scouring, fleece are sorted according to texture. This process is called sorting.
4. After sorting, fluffy fibres; called burr; are picked out from hair. Burr is the fibre that gives wool.
5. Dying – After sorting and picking out of burrs, these are dyed in desired colors.
6. Spinning – The fibres are then straightened, combed and rolled into yarns.
Wool yarn is used in knitting sweaters and woolen cloths, i.e. fabric.

Silk is another important animal fibre. Silk worm spins silk. Silkworm is reared to obtain silk.
History of Silk
Silk was discovered in China; around 3500 BC. Silk became a prized possession because of its fine quality and luster. Originally, it was used by emperors only. It was through trade that silk spread to other parts of the world over a period of time. Silk was a staple item of trade during ancient times. Due to this, the ancient trade routes which linked China to other parts of the world are called ‘Silk Route’.
As per historians, silk was produces in India also. Proof of use of silk in during the Indus Valley Civilization has also been found.
Types of Silk
Different types of silk worm produce different types of silk; in terms of luster and texture. For example; tassar silk, mooga silk, kosa silk, etc. are produced by different types of silk moth. Mulberry silk is the most common silk moth.
Rearing of Silkworm
Rearing of silkworm is known as SERICULTURE. Silkworms are reared on mulberry leaves as they feed on mulberry leaves.
Life Cycle of Silkworm
Female silk moth  Lays eggs  After about 14 days eggs are hatched into larva Grown into Pupa  Weave a net and enclosed itself  Produce liquid protein from its salivary glands moving it’s head in the shape of ‘8’ forming cocoon Live in the cocoon for some time  After coming out of cocoon grows into silk moth.
Silk Moth To Silk
After they are laid by the silk moth; eggs are stored over a clean cloth or paper strips. When larvae are hatched from eggs, they are kept in clean bamboo trays with fresh leaves of mulberry. Larvae feed on mulberry leaves for about 20 to 25 days. After that, larvae move into tiny chambers of bamboo in which they start spinning cocoon. They do it by secreting liquid protein from their salivary glands. Finally they enclose themselves in cocoon. Cocoons get hardened because of exposure to air.
Obtaining of Silk from Cocoon
First of all, cocoons are boiled and then silk fibre is separated out; using machines. Machine unwinds the silk thread from cocoons. The process by which silk fibre is obtained is called REELING THE SILK.
Silk thread so obtained is woven into different types of cloths, i.e. fibre.

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