Why wool?

with 28 Comments

Wool is a magical fiber.

Why Wool

photo: slightly everything

I first dealt with wool when I began knitting.  I quickly learned that the wool, or wool blend yarn, would feel a whole lot nicer on my hands after hours upon hours of working on a knitting project.

I knew wool was a “nice” fabric, but I didn’t know why.  I knew it was natural, versus the synthetic acrylic wool that would squeak between my knitting needles.

why woolphoto: Artiii

When we began camping, hiking and shopping at the local outdoor supplier I learned that not only was wool yarn expensive, but wool shirt and sweaters seemed to be VERY expensive.  Again, I know that it was a “nice” material, but I didn’t truly understand why.

why woolphoto: sarahgb

Then one day I scored a nice black wool cardigan at a discount store for a steal.  It was a great cardigan and I began wearing it with everything.  Soon enough I donated my old acrylic and cotton cardigans to charity.  Soon enough I realized I didn’t need to wash this wool cardigan as often as I had to wash my cotton and acrylic cardigans.  It didn’t seem to wrinkle, it didn’t smell, when I got caught in the rain the water just beaded up and didn’t soak in.  Let me tell you I was sold on the qualities of a nice wool garment.

Given the cost associated with such garments, I’ve slowly been stalking the sales and hunting the clearance racks for wool garments.  At this point I own several pieces of wool: Swiftwick socks, a bright red peacoat, a Chrome hoodie, a merino cardigan from Banana Republic, and a handful of Icebreaker shirts I spotted on steepandcheap.com  Next up on my wool wishlist: wool underwear.

Lately I’ve been looking into the why and how of the magic behind the wool.  What I’ve learned:

  • Wool traps warm air against your body to keep you warm.
  • Wool has natural anti-bacterial properties.  The natural shape of the wool fiber repels bacteria, allowing you to wear the garment over and over again without a stink!
  • There are different qualities of wool, with Merino being one of the nicest.  That scratchy pokey wool is a lesser quality of wool that has shorter fibers.  The merino is a finer, thin long fiber that feels soft against the skin.
  • It’s breathable, due to the structure of the fibre.  It allows moisture (sweat) to escape, wicking it off of your skin.
  • Synthetic materials are petroleum based and melt when burned.  Wool is naturally anti-flammable. (Not that we ever plan to be on fire, but hey, things happen.)
  • Most modern wool these days can be washed in the machine on gentle cycle, and hung to dry.


Additional reading on the wonder of wool:


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