Wool has a bit of a bad rap. So many people tell me they can’t wear wool because they are allergic or it is itchy. Yes there are some itchy wool yarns that shouldn’t be worn next to the skin. There are many wool yarns that have been treated gently and make fabric with lovely drape and softness. There are many benefits to using wool. In my opinion, it is totally worth the time and trouble to find a wool yarn that works for you. Even my itchiest mohair wool blend sweater loses it’s itch factor when I wear a cotton turtleneck underneath and I get the benefit of beauty, comfort and warmth. In a future post, I will be talking about matching specific breeds to appropriate projects.
Wool is a totally renewable, sustainable fiber. It grows back year after year. Processing wool does not have a large carbon or chemical footprint. Cleaning takes hot water and some soap. The rest of the processing can be done totally by hand, but even if it is processed at a mill, there is just electricity used in most cases. Superwash wool has the least “itchiness”. It has been highly processed to remove the scales on the individual fibers. But it also has the highest environmental impact. I do like to use superwash wools for socks, knowing that it is a little less ecologically friendly.
Wool is biodegradable. In fact, it can be used as an excellent nitrogen source for mulching. Some shepherds use the skirtings (dirtier wool from the bellies and legs) as mulch for their gardens or orchards.
Wool is flame resistant so it naturally defends against fire. When exposed to a flame, the fibers extinguish themselves.
Wool is a great insulator. Some new “green” homes are using wool as insulation. As insulation, wool wicks moisture away from the home and reduces the presence of mold and bacteria. It also acts as a filter for odors in a home.
As outerwear, wool keeps you warm in the winter by insulating and cool in the summer by being breathable. It wicks away moisture from your body, so the moisture is evaporated. It also repels water since the outer layer of the fiber is hydrophobic.
For garments, wool is very easy to care for. Of course you shouldn’t put it in the washer and dryer, but handwashing and air drying is all you need to do. Stains are easy to remove as well either with soap and water or dry cleaning fluid for oily stains. It is highly durable so it is a smart investment for your wardrobe.
Puck says “Try wool! Ewe’ll like it!!”
Do you love wool? Why or why not? Post a comment to share your thoughts on wool.