When someone is daydreaming instead of paying attention to the talk at hand, it used to be, and sometimes still is said that the person is “wool gathering” . How did that saying come about? Most people don’t require any wool at all to do their fanciful thinking.
The answer is simple enough. When sheep are out in their meadows or even in their stalls, they often rub their sides along fences, trees, bushes, and other upright, stable objects, probably to scratch an itch or just because it feels good. In the days when wool was processed by hand, someone in the family that owned the sheep would have to go into the fields to collect the pieces of wool that rubbed off and stuck to the “scratching post.” Waste not, want not, after all. As this is not a very taxing occupation, it’s likely that the wool gatherer would be thinking about all sorts of things.