Our autumn/winter collection features beautiful knitwear made from Merino wool. Merino wool comes from sheep of the same name and the wool is classed as a luxury yarn due to its lightness and softness.
The Merino sheep was originally indigenous to Asia Minor before being introduced to Spain by the Romans. The sheep were so important to the Iberian economy that in the 15th – 17th Centuries they could only be exported with royal consent. In the 1790’s a flock of Merino sheep were given as a gift to the Governor of South Africa, then some years later some were sold and exported to Australia where the largest flocks of Merino sheep live today. The climate there suits this breed of sheep as the warm weather allows the sheep to grow a lovely soft fleece. British Merino sheep grow a coarser fleece which is excellent for making wool carpets!
Wool fibres are naturally crimped or waved. This allows air to be trapped in the structure giving wool its lovely warm quality. Fine Merino wool has as many as 100 crimps per inch. When spinning the wool fibres, the crimps wrap around each other, increasing wool’s already excellent tensile strength (can stretch a long way before breaking). The springiness of the crimps gives wool an inbuilt recovery, or ‘memory’ enabling the woollen garments to maintain their shape and can be reshaped while damp after washing.
Due to the fluffy nature of wool, when rubbed the fluff tangles up into little balls, called ‘pilling’ or ‘bobbling’. The little bobbles can easily be removed by hand or with a de-bobbler and will diminish over time.
The wool fibre exterior is ‘hydrophobic’ – this means it repels water. Amazingly, the interior of the fibre is ‘hydroscopic’ which attracts water. It can absorb approximately 1/3 of its bulk weight in moisture vapour without feeling wet! It also still feels warm when wet. This incredible science is one of the reasons that fishermen working in harsh, wet, cold environments wear woollen jumpers. Wool is also naturally slightly antibacterial which helps to wick away any odour. Airing a woollen garment will remove much of the build-up of odour so reduces the need for constant laundering – another green credential to wool’s name!
Some Merino sheep farmers prevent fly-strike on their sheep by practising mulesing. We would like to reassure our customers that we only buy wool from Merino sheep that are non-mulesed.