Why Wool? Since the Stone Age, wool has been appreciated as one of the most effective forms of protection from the weather.
It has some amazing properties..
Wool wicks moisture... it pulls away water away from your skin to keep you dry, this is vital for keeping you warm during the winter months. However, it can also keep you cool in the summer, merino sportswear is especially great for this. The wicking process helps with evaporation, it prevents the build up of bacteria that creates body odour.
It is naturally insualting... the fibres form tiny air pockets which trap heat. If you ever live in a colder climate you will feel the effects of wearing a wool knitted jumper versus a polyester or cotton jumper.
Long Lasting... wool is super durable! the fibres can bend over 20,000 times before they break. This helps woollen fabrics keep their shape, resist wrinkles and look great.
Absorbent...It can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water whilst still retaining 80% of its insulating properties. This is why many traditional fisherman wore jumpers, i.e Guernsey jumpers, keeping them warm whilst facing high winds and sea spray.
Wool helps you sleep... It's properties help you regulate body temperature for a comfortable nights rest. The breathability of the fibre prevents dust mites by reducing humidity, the perfect bedding for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Flame Resistant... Wool is natrually flame resistant without the need to add any chemicals.
Wool and Sustainability
The best reason to shop for wool is for sustainability factors. It is a completely renewable source of fibre, as every year a sheep will produce a new fleece.
It is the most reused and recycled fibre...due to the luxury appeal of wool, it is more likely to be gifted and passed down through generations, donated or recycled. According to the IWTO (International Wool Trading Organisation), it only represents 1.3% of the virgin fibre supply, despite this, it holds a 5% share in recycled fibres.
The Woolmark Company recently engaged in a global wardrobe survey which confirmed that wool garments have a longer life than other dominant apparel fibres such as cotton. Surveys show that consumers are more lkely to wear wool for longer between washes. This is due to its natural ability to keep itself clean or refreshed by airing. Reducing the energy and water required to launder them.
Many speculate that producing wool requires a lot of land, however, the majority of sheep farmed for wool are also a part of the food insutry, approximately 1.16 billion sheep. They are often raised on land that cannot be used for arable food crops. They can graze on a variety of different types of land, livestock grazing plays a vital role in maintaining species rich habitats by controlling more aggresive species which would otherwise dominate those areas.
Biodegradable, at the end of its life, wool can be returned to the soil where it can decompose and release nutrients back to the ground.
The ethics of wool...now we can't talk about wool without discussing the ethical implications of using the fibre. Animal welfare is a key issue to consider before choosing where I purchase wool for the Elin Manon brand. There are voluntary standards which companies can comply with as a mark to show that their wool was produced ethically. The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) from the Textile Echange is a global standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on. It follows the chain of custody from farm to final product. All of the yarn I use for my products are protected by the Responsible Wool Standard and are from non-muelsed sheep.
I believe that wool is such a valuable commodity, and when produced correctly, is worth being a part of our lives through quality clothing.