The manufacture of wool, including in this term all cognate fibres, is, after cotton, the most impoi taut textile industry of Great Britain. The raw material consumed in the manufacture is chiefly composed of the following :—All varieties of sheep's-wool, alpaca, mohair, goats' hair, and camels' hair ; in addition to these, are several minor articles, the most important being shoddy, mungo, and extract, all of which are manufactured wools, produced in a manner to be explained hereafter ; and such fibres of vegetable origin (cotton, flax, China graaa, rheea fibre) as, with silk and silk waste, sro consumed in the production of union goods, and generally form the warp of the fabrics.
The induatry is eeparated into two great divisions, primarily dependent upon : (1) the class of wool, and (2) the rnethod of manipulation. To a certain extent, the first dictates the second. These two are the woollen and the worsted trades, each being subdivisible again into several minor branches.
The woollen industry takes for ita raw materiab3 chiefly the fine, short, felting wools, technically denominated " clothing" or " carding " wools, to which sre added the manufactured wools : " aboddiea," " mungos," and " extracts,' the nature of which will be explained subaequently. Along with these, in the formation of union gooda, silk, and the several vegetable fibrea before named, are consumed. From theae, are produced the fine cloths of the Weat of England, Leeda, and other places, and those of several centres on the Continent ; the heavy fabrics of the Hudders field districts ; the tweeda of Scotland and Ireland ; snd the ahoddy cloths of Dewsbury, Batley, and Morley, which include all ranges and qualities, from the fineat to the coarsest, snd the lightest to the heaviest, for male and female wear.
The worsted division, for ita share of the raw materials, claims all the long, or " combing" wools, as they are termed, represented by the woola obtained from the Leicester breeds of aheep and the varieties which have been developed from them. Mohair from the Angora goat, the fleeces of the llama, alpaca, and vicuna, and similar animal products, are also included in this division. These are aupplemented by the same class of vegetable fibres and ailk as in the preceding division. The product from them consiata of an extensive seriea of light goocia, having very numerous denig nations, but substantially consisting of fsbrica that generally may be termed " luatres," " naoliairs," " alpacas," " llamas," &c. Union cloths from each of these fibres are also made, silk or cottoe, and occaaionally other materials, being employed for warps. Bradford is the centre of the district pro
ducing worsted goods in all varieties, whoae values extend from 3s. down to 2d. yd. for low union goods. Formerly Norwich was the centre of a great trade in worsteda, but its importance has been declining for a longtime past. Fashion and other csusea have alao conspired to depress the industry and commerce of Bradford and district during the past few years, so that comparatively little enter prise haa recently been exhibited, save in individual cases where efforta have been made to adapt the machinery to the production of the softer classes of fabrics now extensively in demand.
Structure of the Fibre.—The mechanical structure and chemical composition of the wool fibre eonstitute its most important manufaoturing characteristics. In every process during ita fabrica tion into textures, regard must be paid to these, but eapecially to the first-named; the second, which makes it a bad conductor of heat, ia the quality that peculiarly fits it for use se a material for clothing purposes, particularly in temperate and cold climates.
The mechanical structure of the wool fibre always formed the chief basis of its commercial value, even before ita true nature was diet:levered. Though wool has been in use for its preaent purposea during aeveral thousand years, and its valuable properties have been known for the aarne time, the peouliar structure on which these properties depend haa only recently been diacovered. The cir cumstances connected with thia iuteresting event, which took place on the 7th February, 1835, are fully narrated by W. Youstt, in his valuable treatise upon sheep. In the course of his inquiries, he directed his attention to the nature of wool, in order to discover the cause of ita felting property, snd called in the assiatance of Powell, an artist engaged in the manufacture of the best microacopea known at that time. Their efforta were rewarded with complete auccesa, as the microscope revealed all details of the construction of the wool fibre. The same instrument haa been further utilized for the purpoae of discovering the minute differences that, judging from the varying effect produced in the manipulation of varioua kinds of wool, it was inferred must exist. These have been recorded by many inquirers, and the sum of the information thus obtained agrees almost perfectly NI ith the results of experience.