Wool, one of the oldest textile fibres known,
has survived the test of time because of its unique
natural properties. The basic characteristics wool
possessed in the Stone Age era, for instance, are
still the fundamental qualities that make wool unique
in this 20th century. Today there are many other
textile fibres, but as yet science has not been
able to produce another fibre containing all the
natural properties of wool. Wool remains unique;
a masterpiece of design.
Wool Insulates Against Heat and Cold
Because it absorbs moisture vapour, wool clothing
provides superior comfort in both hot and cold weather.
In cold weather even a little moisture on the skin
becomes cold, quickly reducing body temperature.
However, by absorbing body moisture a dry layer
of air is left next the skin and this helps to hold
in body heat. In addition the crimp in the wool
fibres makes them stand apart from each other. As
a result, little pockets of still air are trapped
between the fibres. This lining of air trapped inside
the fabric acts as an insulator. Still air is one
of the best insulators found in nature.
The absorption/evaporation process works in hot
weather to help keep the body cooler. Evaporation
of perspiration is the body's natural cooling device.
Wool helps this process along. Its thirsty cells
absorb body vapours and help reduce skin temperature.
Also, much of the outdoor heat is blocked out because
of wool's insulating barrier of air pockets. This
means that the body is kept at an even temperature.
Wool is Healthy
Because wool has the ability to insulate against
heat and cold, it protects against sudden changes
of temperature, and it lets your body breathe. Wool
can absorb up to 30 percent of its own weight in
moisture before it becomes really damp. As moisture
is absorbed heat is generated so that the wool remains
warm rather than cold and clammy. After doing strenuous
work or playing sport it is a good idea to pull
on a wool jumper as it allows the body to cool down
slowly and chills are prevented.
Wool is Water Repellent
While wool can absorb moisture, it repels liquids.
The scales on the outside of the fibre cause liquid
to roll off the surface of the wool fabric. For
instance, if you accidentally spill water on the
floor, it is no use trying to mop it up with an
old wool jumper because the wool will not absorb
the liquid. Similarly, if you are caught in a shower
or rain, it will take quite some time before the
rain penetrates your wool clothing, and so wool
keeps you dry. Even if wool does eventually get
wet it generates heat and keeps you warm, not cold
Wool is Fire Resistant
Wool is naturally safe. It does not have to be specially
treated to become non-flammable. While it can catch
alight, it will not flare up nor support a flame.
Instead of burning freely, once the flame is removed
a cold ash is left which can be brushed away immediately.
Wool does not melt when burned, and so cannot stick
to the skin and cause serious burns. Because of
its fire-resistant qualities, wool blankets, furnishings
and carpets in your home are necessary insurance,
and wool for clothing (particularly children) will
protect from accidents associated with fire. Firemen
wear wool uniforms, and fire-fighters in rural areas
should always ensure they dress themselves in wool
before rushing to fight a fire.
Wool is Naturally Elastic
Wool's natural elasticity, greater than that of
any other fibre, makes it comfortable to wear because
it fits the shape of the body. Wool can be twisted,
turned and stretched, and yet it returns to its
natural shape. This is why wrinkles disappear from
wool garments when they are rested, and why wool
carpets retain their springy pile for many years.
A wool fibre when dry can be extended by about 30
percent. When wet it will stretch by between 60
and 70 percent. This means that a wool garment gives
freedom of movement, especially important for children's
clothes and sportswear, when ease of movement is
Wool Wears Longer
Wool not only wears longer, it also keeps its good
appearance and stays new-looking longer. It doesn't
get shabby in a short space of time. Each wool fibre
is made up of millions of "coiled springs" that
stretch and give rather than break, and so wool
is extremely durable. Wool stands up to the stresses
and strains of normal wear because it gives rather
than resists friction. The durability and strength
of the coarser wool gives us furnishings materials
and carpets which retain their good appearance for
a long time. One of the reasons why so many people
hang on to a favourite old wool garment for so many
years is because it retains its original appearance
longer than most other fabrics.
Wool is Versatile
Wool fabric, knitwear and carpets are made from
a wide range of wool types varying from extrafine
for suits and knitwear through to broad fibres which
give carpets their strength and character. This
means that wool gives designers endless potential
for their creations - from delicate fabrics to rugged
outdoor wear. Wool technologists have developed
an endless number of combinations of weave, knits
and textures, from sheer lacy knits and light airy
worsteds to bulky tweeds and heavy overcoating.
Different sheep breeds, each with their own unique
fibre characteristics provide manufacturers with
different wools for an even wider range of products.
Blending various wool types in different ways adds
further to wool's versatility. It is small wonder
then that wool is found in products as diverse as
paint-rollers and mattresses, carpets and coats,
furnishing fabrics and high-fashion suits, blankets
and underwear, curtains and skiwear, wall paper
and tennis ball coverings.
Wool Resists Static
Because wool naturally absorbs moisture from the
air, the tendency to collect static electricity
is reduced. Walking across a wool carpet, you are
less likely to receive a shock when you touch a
grounded object. Wool garments are much less likely
to "spark" or cling to the body.
Wool Insulates Against Noise
As mentioned above wool is a wonderful insulator
against noise. It absorbs sound and reduces noise
level considerably. For this reason wool wallpaper
is often used in offices, restaurants, airport terminals,
etc. Wool is also an ideal material used in such
places as concert halls to attain the best acoustics
Wool Resists Dirt
Wool resists dirt, retains its appearance, and stays
cleaner longer. Its ability to absorb moisture prevents
a build-up of static electricity and therefore wool
does not attract lint and dust from the air. Furthermore
the crimp in the wool fibre and the scales on the
outside of the fibre assist in keeping dirt from
penetrating the surface. The same qualities also
make it easier to clean.
Wool is Easy to Sew
For the home dressmaker, wool cuts cleanly, doesn't
fray, drapes naturally, doesn't crush with handling
and pins don't mark it. It responds instantly to
shaping by iron and steaming and then holds shape.
Wool is Fashionable
Leading designers throughout the world prefer to
use wool - it comes in a wide choice of textures,
weaves and weights, and is suitable for any style
required. No fabric drapes like wool fabric. It
is alive, flexible and tailors easily. The soft
and easy "give and take" of the wool fibre keeps
garments in shape, prevents stretching and sagging,
and resists wrinkling.
Wool Dyes Beautifully
Wool dyes so easily and the range of colours is
limitless. The scales on the surface of the wool
fibre tend to diffuse light giving less reflection
and a softer colour. Because proteins in the core
of the fibre are reactive, they can absorb and combine
with a wide variety of dyes. This means that the
wool holds its colour well as the dye becomes part
of the fibre.
Wool is comfortable
Wool is so comfortable to wear because its elasticity
means garments fit so well and yield to body movement.
It absorbs moisture, allows your body to breathe,
yet never feels damp and clammy. No other fabric
serves so well under such a variety of conditions,
nor combines so many natural properties.