Holding wool
Holding wool

Natural waviness of wool fiber
Natural waviness of wool fliber

Lead line
Lead Line

 

     

    Wool qualities

    Wool is the fiber that grows on the body of most sheep. It replenishes itself each time the sheep is sheared and continues to grow throughout the sheep's lifetime.

    Wool is an extremely complex protein, evolved over millions of years for the protection of warm blood animals in a great variety of climates and conditions. By comparison, synthetic fibers are simple, having been designed for specific limited uses.

    Wool fiber is so resilient and elastic that it can be bent 30,000 times without danger of breaking or damage. Every wool fiber has a natural elasticity and wave or crimp that allows it to be stretched as much as one-third and then spring back into place. Its complex cellular structure also enables it to absorb moisture vapor, but repel liquid. No synthetic fiber has been able to combine all of these characteristics.

    Absorbs dye
    Wool absorbs many different dyes deeply, uniformly and directly without the use of chemicals. Because of this ability, wool is known for its beautiful, rich colors.

    Warm and cool
    Wool is comfortable to wear in both warm and cool climates. This is because wool is an absorbent fiber. When the air is cool and damp, wool absorbs moisture and keeps a layer of dry insulating air next to the skin. When it is warm, that same absorbtion capacity takes up perspiration and keeps insulating dry air next to the skin, making the body's natural cooling system work better.

    Great investment
    Wool garments are a great investment. Since wool fibers resist piling, snagging, and breaking, wool garments typically outlast synthetic sweathers. Furthermore, since wool fibers are naturally elastic, wool garments don't wrinkle, bag, or sag as other fabrics.

    Because of its unique properties, wool has many other uses besides clothing: blankets and rugs. Wool can be used to clean up oil and chemical spills. Wool mulch is easier to lay and more aesthetic than black plastic, plus it's biodegradable. As an insulation material, wool has an R value of 3.5 per inch of thickness and is more environmentally-friendly.

    Flame resistant
    Wool is the only fiber that naturally resists flaming. Unlike many artificial fibers which melt and stick to the skin when on fire, wool usually smolders or chars instead of bursting into flame. Although wool will burn under intense fire, it normally self-extinguishes when the flame source is removed. For safety reasons, many airlines use wool or wool blends for the upholstry fabric on their seats. Wool is favored by the U.S. military

    Worsted vs. woolen
    Most wool is made into yarn using either the worsten or woolen system. Worsten yarn consists of long fibers that lie parallel, so that the materials made from it are smooth and lean and stronger than woolens. In woolen yarn, there are long and short fibers lying in different locations, so the woolen fabrics on the whole are harsher to the touch, more rugged to look at, and warmer than worsteds.

    The "Itch" factor
    The itchiness of wool that some people experience is related to fiber diameter. Finer fibers, such as pure Merino wool, give greater comfort. The comfort limit for garments worn next to the skin is 28 microns. Many people experience discomfort if more than 3 to 4 percent of the fibers are over 28 microns thick. Wool can be treated with chemicals or blended with other fibers to remove the itch factor. Some wools, such as SmartWool® are guaranteed not to itch.

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Last updated 27-May-2012
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