Incredibly soft, lighter and smoother than regular wool, comfortable, durable and an all-year-round choice, Merino wool is undoubtedly a very much-loved fibre. Grown by Merino sheep, it even has naturally insulating properties, meaning each fibre naturally helps regulate body temperature. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Do you know that uncomfortable and annoying itching most woollens cause? Merino wool has nothing to do with it. You see, the quality of each type of wool is measured by the amount of bends it has and the more the bends the better the wool. Merino is one of those lucky fibres and although it can be produced by different breeds of Merino sheep (variations go from Pool to Booroola and Delaine Merino), it usually has a diameter with no less than 24 microns, which makes it longer, softer for the skin, suitable for lightweight knits, perfect for sportswear and easy to blend with other fibres such as silk and cashmere. What’s not to love?
But there is more. Merino wool is hypoallergenic, anti-microbial, naturally fire-retardant and doesn’t retain odours (once again great for athletes and sports’ lovers), making it the best option for every weather. In wintertime, the natural bends of its fibres trap air and can help you keep warm, while during summertime it can transport the sweat from the skin as a vapor, keeping you cool, comfortable and sweat-free, and sometimes provide SPF protection, as Merino wool is also capable of blocking harmful sun rays.
And how is it made, you ask? Merino wool is a natural and renewable fibre that comes from sheep that live in tough environments in temperatures that can go from 5 to 95 degrees – that is why is it so weather-adaptable. Merino sheep are involved in the process but its wool is a renewable fibre, meaning one sheep can grow four to five pounds of wool per year and they are glad to give it away from time to time.
Obviously we can’t ignore the fact that it can have a dark side, as there are still many wool producers that keep using the mulesing procedure, a painful technique that was created to prevent parasitic infection from flies and that is carried without any kind of anaesthesia or painkillers [read more about it at PETA], but luckily there are already a few alternatives to it such as the ones mentioned here.
Like all this wasn’t enough, Merino wool is also a biodegradable fibre. Since it is composed of amino acids, the earth is capable of taking back its fibrous protein, releasing carbon and nutrients back into the soil and making it disappear after just 1 year in the ground.