Textile Tuesday: Wool

Before we delve into this post, I want to state I don’t know if Textile Tuesday will become a regular thing, but it will show up every now and again. I really had no idea there was so much to learn about different fibers and I am finding it fascinating. I have talked about how acrylic yarn was made here, cashmere here, and yesterday I started on wool. I will probably revisit cashmere at some point in time because it’s history is quite extensive, especially the cultural history (these are the things you don’t learn in history class).

wool blanketWhen I was writing yesterdays post I came across some interesting information that I found about wool that I wanted to share.

When we think of wool we think of warm but itchy sweaters and scarves in the winter. Maybe something horrible looking a family member knitted (ugly holiday sweaters are a tradition that is rooted in our society for a reason). What everyone may not know is that wool is our friend and it doesn’t have to be itchy and scratchy invoking complete misery wearing.

If you have ever petted a sheep I am sure you have wondered how something so soft can turn into an uncomfortable sweater. It happens during the processing of the wool. The smaller the fibers, the less itching. Most large wool manufacturers wash the wool in sulfuric acid to remove any grass or hay that may be trapped inside the wool. This can cause skin irritation when it’s worn, along with the pesticide added during the dying process in mothproofed yarn.

Chances are you aren’t going to find untreated wool clothing when you visit your local department store, but there are places you can order online if you search, and you can always knit or crochet your own items. I highly recommend merino wool9. It is soft and pleasant to work with once you get used to the stretch that it has to it.

Interesting facts about wool10.

  • It’s hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant
  • It’s antibacterial and antimicrobial
  • Has natural UV protection
  • Wool11 is pretty much fire resistant with a¬†¬†ignition point of about 1,382 degrees Fahrenheit (756 degrees Celsius)
  • Fragments of wool12 clothing have been found in Siberian graves dating back to the first century BC as well as dating back to Ancieht Egypt 3.400 years ago.
  • Wool13 can help with pain.

It’s that last fact there that I want to talk about. As I was researching wool I came across a study about how sleeping on and wearing wool14 can relieve fibromyalgia pain but up to 84%. For those of us that suffer from fibro pain, this is kind of amazing. Word is it can also help with arthritis pain.

The reasoning? Wool15 is a natural fiber and helps the body regulate body temperature properly. Something fibro patients can not do. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of wool16 because of the itch factor. I was always told that wool17 was always scratchy and I never questioned it. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the local yarn store for the first time and found balls of yarn that felt just like the sheep they came from.

sheepI’m pretty sure those sheep are judging me for believing that they would produce anything less than something as soft as themselves.

Now I am also being told that I can have soft and comfortable bedding that will help me sleep better and relieve pain. Believe me, I am looking into this. I am also looking forward to finishing the Tidal Wave Shawl that I am working on to test this theory about body temperature regulation. The air conditioner makes me extremely cold (so does the freezer section in the store) and I am tired of wrapping up in blankets that I constantly have to readjust or that make me overheat. I may just have to start making myself wool18 socks and slippers. If something can help keep me cool in the hot weather and warm in the cold, you better believe that I will be making myself a lot of wool19 clothing.

In the 1880’s the first synthetic fiber was made, ironically, trying to improve upon natural fibers. Now I am convinced the sheep are judging us all…


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