Let's talk about wool yarn and where it comes from. Wool is a fiber grown naturally by sheep. It is their protective coat against the elements and keeps them both warm and cool, healthy and protected while living in a wild, grassy environment such as pasture land, the high desert, damp coastal plains, or the high elevation grasslands.
The wool fiber is harvested from sheep once a year or so, in the spring or summer by shearing, very similar to a haircut. This leaves the sheep with a light coat during the summer months and gives them time to grow a new coat before winter temperatures drop.
Many times when you see the word wool listed as fiber on a yarn label, it is referring to fiber from sheep but not a specific breed. Many times this is a mix of fleece from different breeds.
There are many breeds of sheep. Each breed has special qualities in its fleece which makes it better for one thing or another. Some wool is soft against the skin, while another may be hard-wearing and used for blankets or rugs. Wool can be waterproof, flameproof, and even used as insulation in buildings. We love wool because it is warm, can be dyed in all colors, and can be stitched into so many beautiful objects to keep us warm and cozy in cold weather.
What is Merino Wool?
Merino wool refers to the breed of sheep the wool was harvested from. Merino is a breed of sheep that is commonly raised in Australia, South America, and North America. It has been used for decades to weave high-quality fabric and spin it into yarn for the fashion industry in Italy. Merino wool is known for its softness and fine micron count. The finer the micron, the thinner the fiber, making a softer touch when wearing something made from wool. Merino wool is considered one of the finest in the industry. Many of the wool yarns we carry are made from Merino wool. They are soft and more delicate than those listed as wool typically.
What is wool yarn?
Wool yarn is spun from the fiber of sheep fleece and trimmed about once a year. Wool yarn can be used to make any sort of garments such as sweaters, socks, scarves, blankets, and hats, as well as rugs, fabric, and wall hangings. Wool fiber is unique because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It can hold up to 30% of its weight in water before losing its insulating properties, keeping you warm in damp or rainy weather.
Wool yarn is made from the fleece of sheep that has been spun by hand or machine. The spun fiber is then plied, or twisted around each other, to make the fiber stronger and more durable. Sometimes the weight or thickness of yarn is referred to by the amount of the ply, such as 2 ply, 3 ply, etc. Sometimes the yarn is described by the pieces of yarn twisted together with the same names, two ply, 4ply, 8ply, to refer to the strength and ply of the yarn, but it does not mean the yarn is a certain thickness.
Is wool production sustainable?
Wool is a fiber that can easily be produced sustainably; sheep grazing helps create biodiversity and soil health and maintains balance in areas more prone to fire, promoting tree growth. The process of creating wool yarn is relatively low impact compared to cotton. Wool does not require a lot of pesticides, water, or heavy chemicals to process the fiber. Wool yarn can last a long time with care and is easily compostable when finished with wearing an item made with wool. There is no synthetic fiber that can replicate wool's unique warmth, sustainability, and antibacterial qualities. Some brands that create sustainable wool are Noro Yarn, Manos Del Uruguay Yarn, and Juniper Moon Farm Yarn.
What breed of sheep has the best wool?
There are many sheep breeds; one breed that is best known for its fine, soft fiber is Merino. The fashion industry has used merino wool to create fine men's wear items such as sweaters and suits. Merino is considered one of the finest fibers because it has a more straight, smooth fiber compared to other wool breeds. This lends to its soft hand.
Wool fiber is a crimped, barbed fiber, which allows it to have excellent elasticity without adding synthetic fibers to maintain its shape. Every time you get a woolen item wet, you should reshape it and lay it flat to dry. Once it is fully dry, the item will maintain the shape you set it in.
How much does wool yarn cost?
The cost of wool yarn depends on factors such as the quality of the fiber, the breed it is made from, the amount of yarn in the skein, and other factors such as how it is dyed and produced. The price can range from a few dollars per skein to $40 per skein.
What is the difference between merino wool and regular wool?
Merino wool comes from a specific breed of sheep. The Merino breed of sheep is known for high-quality, soft fiber. Wool yarn refers to yarn made from the fleece of any breed. Many times if the fiber is listed as wool, the yarn is a combination of many different breeds of sheep fleece. The main difference between Merino wool and regular wool is the micron count of the fiber. Merino sheep have been bred to create a very fine fiber that feels soft and can be woven into the light fabric for suits and jackets as well as sweaters. Merino wool is highly regarded in the fashion industry and is used to create fine, woven fabric for wool clothing.
What is a good alternative to wool?
Some people find they can not wear wool. Alpaca or alpaca blend yarn can be a good alternative to wool yarn if you are looking for warmth. Acrylic yarn is an artificial fiber created to replace wool. The acrylic yarn was modeled after wool fiber to be an easy-care alternative and is typically less expensive than wool but does not have the same inherent qualities wool offers, such as antimicrobial, insulating quality, and sustainability.
Is wool better than synthetic?
We believe that wool is better than synthetic fiber for a few reasons:
- Wool has antibacterial properties.
- Wool has water/moisture-wicking qualities.
- Wool is warmer than synthetic fiber because it pulls moisture away from the skin and continues to feel warm.
- Wool can also be worn in warm weather without feeling overly warm.
- Wool production is better for the environment.
- Wool is natural and can easily be composted.Sheep are essential for responsible land management and sustainability.