Why would one wear wool?

Posted by Hilary Davison on

Man has been domesticating and herding sheep since 6000 BC and using the fleece and not just the skins since 3500 BC. The oldest known wool textile, found in a Danish bog dates back to 1500 BC. When we are wearing wool we are participating in an ages old system, using a renewable natural resource.

Wool can hold up to 30% of its weight in moisture before it begins to feel damp and it still feels warm when wet- perfect for this time of year. Wool is the first fibre that wicks away moisture from the skin, desert peoples from all around the world use wool as the perfect fibre when the temperatures are really extreme. My favourite dress, worn these past two (unusually hot) summers, is a fine merino dress from Ibex, it's cool and comfortable when the temperature rises. At the other end of the scale, fishermen and mountain peoples the world over have always worn wool sweaters as even when soaking wet, they can be wrung out and will still keep retain 80% of their insulating value- a lifesaver at sea or in the mountains.

Wool is flexible and naturally elastic, with simple care it is incredibly hard wearing. The natural properties of wool make it somewhat water repellant, spills, light rain and snow will shake off, the fibres trap heat next to the skin but allow moisture to wick away. Wool is naturally non flammable, it doesn't support combustion and doesn't melt.

Our skin can feel the prick of wool that is coarser than 30 microns as this will not bend when it pokes us. Most of the wool used for modern clothing is less that 30 microns ( human hair is 60 microns) with companies like Ibex and Dale Of Norway producing base layers as fine as 17.5 microns and regular mid and outer-layers from 21-29 microns, these feel silky and smooth to all but the most sensitive skins. Many of these garments are also machine washable to be really easy to care for.

Wool absorbs dyes incredibly well and by using a mixture of age old and ultra modern knitting techniques, designers and knitters are able to produce the most fashion forward and beautiful garments in the world. A luxurious fibre that is hard wearing and long lasting, fine and delicate or highly technical and high performance for extreme conditions, from wrapping up new-borns to high fashion, wool can do it all.

And everybody has a favourite sweater.

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