Natural waviness of wool fliber
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.
<== SHEEP PRODUCTS
Wool is an extremely complex protein, evolved over millions
of years for the protection of warm blooded 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.
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.
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.
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
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.