FIBRE GUIDE: WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT WOOL?
We all know what wool is – that brilliantly warm, fluffy fleece that comes off sheep. We know it’s a prized fabric, that it’s comfortable, warm, and super soft. But why else is wool so special? Surely there’s more to this natural fibre that makes it the preferred material for everything from bedding and blankets to clothing and rugs. Well, there is!
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering “Why is wool so great?” then read on for a primer.
Wool is an incredibly flexible fibre, which makes it super durable and resistant to breakage. As an example, wool fibres are able to withstand being bent up to 20,000 times without breaking, while cotton can only handle 3,000 bends before breaking. How’s that for super strong?
The reason wool is so flexible is due to its natural elasticity, which means it stretches under pressure rather than breaks. And the reason why your woolly jumpers haven’t stretched like a parachute is because the woolen fibres spring back once the pressure has been released, helping garments to retain their original shape.
Sheep don’t want to carry their thick, heavy fleece around all year long. How hot would it get come summertime? For that reason, sheep are sheared before summer approaches, left with around one inch of wool to protect them from sunburn. The sheared wool goes towards making all the fabulous wool products you so love to snuggle up against. So not only do you get to reap the benefits of wool, but somewhere out there a sheep has been prevented from overheating.
And of course, year after year, that fleece will grow again, and the sheep will be sheared again, making wool a renewable and natural source of fibre that supports farmers all over the country.
We all know how flammable synthetic materials can be, and that can get quite panic inducing come winter time spent huddling around a fire or heater. Wool garments, on the other hand, are considered to be naturally flame retardant and won’t melt onto your skin like other fabrics may do.
Wool is more likely to char or smoulder when exposed to flames, and is self-extinguishing (which is why wool blankets are recommended for putting out small fires!) While cotton can catch alight at just 255°C, wool will need a temperature of at least 570°C before it lights up in flames.
Absorbent & moisture wicking
Wool is able to absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture without getting damp or clammy, and better yet, will not feel wet to the touch until it has been saturated with around 60% of its own weight. If you’ve ever felt the discomfort of feeling both warm and wet in a heavy synthetic coat, you’ll appreciate the fact that wool wicks moisture away from the body and prevents it from being retained in the fabric.
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