Wool and Other Fuzzy Fibre Types
Gosh, I am up to Part V in my rant on fabrics and fibre types! This is turning out to be a very lengthy rant indeed.
Wool is a protein fibre obtained from the fleece of sheep. Merino sheep produce the highest quality wool. Often people think that if a jumper or cardigan is knitted and cosy and warm, it is woollen. This is not necessarily the case. While wool is often knitted into these types of garments, wool can be expensive and hard to look after, so acrylic yarns are often used as a cheaper alternative.
As well as being knitted into cosy cover ups, wool fibres can also be woven into a variety of different types of fabrics such as crepe, gabardine, flannel, boucle, tweed and suiting fabrics.
Woollen fabrics retain warmth making them ideal for jumpers and winter coats. Woollen fabrics resist wrinkling and ideal for tailored garments making them a popular choice for both men’s and women’s suiting. Wool fibres also blend well with other fibre types such as cashmere, polyester, acrylic, or cotton. This is great because the blended fabric retains many of the great characteristics of wool, but makes the fabric easier to care for and more affordable as pure wool can be quite expensive. Generally speaking, when it comes to wool you get what you pay for. High quality wool is more expensive, but it will wear better, last longer and is less likely to be itchy.
The main disadvantage of wool is that it is high maintenance. You cannot machine wash wool. This is because the combination of heat, friction and soapy water cause the wool fibres to felt and shrink. The felting process is irreversible so if you put a woollen jumper in the washing machine and it comes out tiny and felted, I’m sorry to say but there’s nothing you can do about it. Garments made from wool can be dry cleaned or gently hand washed. Check out this post for how to hand wash your woollen clothes.
Wool also self extinguishes when ignited. That’s why it’s a safe choice for carpets. I know this isn’t a blog about carpets, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. I am ridiculously scared of fire so I find this fact very comforting!
Cashmere is another popular fuzzy fibre, which is obtained from the Cashmere goat (and some other types of goats). The outer layer of fleece is relatively coarse so it is the under layer (also called down), which is very fine, soft and luxurious, that is spun into cashmere for clothing production. This being the case, it’s no wonder cashmere is so expensive. It is often blended with sheep’s wool or cotton to make it more durable and affordable. Cashmere and cashmere blends can be knitted into jumpers and cardigans or woven into suiting type fabrics. When you buy a garment from cashmere, consider it an investment, as a good quality cashmere jumper or cardigan should last a lifetime. Like wool, cashmere needs to be treated with a little respect. Check out how to look after your cashmere here.
Stay tuned for the final installment of fabric rants, in which I will attempt to sum up synthetic fabrics in one post!
You can find my other fabric rants here:
- Fabric Rant Part I
- Fabric Rant Part II – Cotton
- Fabric Rant Part III – Silk
- Fabric Rant Part IV – Linen
- Fabrics Rant Part VI – Synthetics
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