How is your summer going? Working your way towards a vacation? Enjoying cocktails on your deck or days on the beach watching the little ones get gloriously, beautifully exhausted yet?
Now let’s talk about merino wool.
Yup. Let’s talk about wool. Now stick with me. Traditionally, at least in the Northern hemisphere, wool is a winter fabric that we are only too happy to abandon for the short, lovely summer that we get. But did you know that it’s just as good in the summer?
Wool is a pretty amazing fibre, and merino wool in particular is fantastic. It comes from sheep that have adapted to a hostile climate, so it’s individual strands are very fine. That’s why it’s so soft. The finer the fibre, the softer the fabric, which means that it can be used for next to the skin clothing. It’s also why it’s used in a lot of higher end clothing lines.
Merino wool is very breathable and helps wick moisture away from your skin. In the winter, that means that it keeps you from overheating and getting chilled. In the summer, it does the same thing. It wicks the moisture away from your skin and helps regulate your temperature because it keeps a layer of air next to your skin, keeping you cool. It’s also odour-resistant, so it doesn’t need to be washed as often. Merino wool is self cleaning! In fact, unless there are stains on your wool garments, you only need to hang them up to air them out between wearings.
So what about the washing?
You do have to treat wool a little more carefully than all of your cotton tops and jeans that get thrown in the washer and the dryer. The individual wool fibres have scales on them that are only too happy to grab on to each other and hold on for dear life.
That’s how wool felt is made. But they will only grab on to each other if they have the perfect circumstances. They like heat, moisture and agitation to get up and dance. If you are trying to felt something, you toss it in the washing machine with detergent on a hot wash and cold rinse. By the time the cycle is finished, those scales have locked on to each other, shrinking the fabric of your favourite sweater. However, you can use that knowledge to maintain your wool garments without the felting. Modern washing machines are very gentle on clothing (for the most part). For most garments (but not all, please follow the washing instructions that come with your clothing) a swish through the washing machine on the cold, gentle cycle, then laying flat or hanging to dry is all you need. You can always hand wash them as well.
Why all this fuss about merino wool?
Merino wool is one of the softest fibres around. It's exceptionally well suited for sensitive skin and although its uses are many and varied, where merino really shines is in any clothing that lies tightly to the skin; such as long underwear, panties,diapers and swaddling blankets. It's good for natural temperature regulation, and for babies or adults with sensitive skin it doesn't get better than merino.
It’s an amazing fibre, and merino wool knit has traditionally been hard to find in North America at a reasonably good price point.
All that is about to change!