I love to look at knitting and crochet yarns sold at online stores. There are simply so many exciting varieties of colours, textures, materials and brands out there that are just waiting for us to crochet or knit with. One amazing yarn material that I am longing to grab, feel and work with (now that I’ve done some readings about it), is Merino wool yarn.
Living in the tropics, we are so used to favouring cotton over most other materials that even when buying yarns, I prefer to choose cotton yarns for its perceived superiority (and suitability for hot and humid regions) or acrylic yarns for their wide availability. I have never used woolen yarns before because I believe that wool would be too thick and unbearably hot for the weather in Malaysia.
However, upon further readings, I discover that wool deserves more than just a try.
I should consider wearing it! 😀
Really – in this hot, humid weather??! Hahaha!
What is Wool?
According to Wikipedia:
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids.
Wool has several qualities that distinguish it from hair or fur: it is crimped, it is elastic, and it grows in staples (clusters).
What is Merino Wool?
Merino Wool comes from the cutesy Merino sheep which is most often raised in Australia and New Zealand.
Don’t you love those 2 countries? They’re doing great at supplying us with woolen materials, dairy products, organic products, and really, really amazingly beautiful landscape and scenery.
So, it comes as no surprise that Merino wool is just as amazing – naturally soft, with the ability to help regulate body temperature – keeping our body warm during winter and cool when we’re hot and sweaty.
Wait a minute – regulate our body temperature???
That sounds like a super suit! 😀
How does it do that?
Wool (not just Merino wool), has the ability to absorb 35% of its own weight in liquid (without it becoming damp), which allows it to absorb our sweat fast thereby helping to cool our body and preventing bacteria development which causes unpleasant body odour.
As it is anti-bacterial and odor-resistant, it may not need to be washed every time you wear them.
I bet that super soft Merino wool is especially wonderful at highlands such as Kundasang (Sabah), Genting Highlands (Pahang) and Cameron Highlands (Pahang) because it is an excellent insulator that not only retains body heat and keeps us comfortable when the temperature drops, it also pulls water away from our skin (evaporates sweat or absorbs moisture from humidity) to keep us dry when it’s hot.
Wool has Vibrant Colours
Merino Wool not only makes excellent soft sweaters, it is also used to make socks, scarfs, hat, and so on. It is said to be very durable, versatile and elastic. It may not be as soft as cashmere, but it is stronger and wool is said to absorb dyes deeply, uniformly and directly without the use of other chemicals… hence, the gorgeous rich colours.
Resistance to Flame
Another awesome fact about wool is it’s resistance to flame. When touched by flame, wool chars and almost immediately stops burning when it is removed from the flame. It is self-extinguishing – it will not support combustion.
See this ‘Textile fibres burning test‘:
And also this wool blanket burn test :
Therefore, blankets made from wool are suitable for use at campsites (preventing camp fire accidents) and for use near the fireplace. For your info, there are also fireplaces provided in some chalets in Kundasang, Sabah… 😀 Doesn’t mean that it is 100% fire-resistant but it’s much, much better than most other materials.
More importantly, when wool burns, it doesn’t melt and stick to the skin (which could further spread the fire, as what usually happens with acrylic).
What are the other wonderful qualities of Merino Wool?
It’s super soft!
Here is a review of Berroco Pure Merino Yarn on YouTube that describes the qualities of a pure 100% Merino Wool yarn, by Laura from Jimmy Beans Wool, which she was using to knit a baby blanket. She said that it is stretchy, machine-washable, 100% wool but soft (she sounded curious about it’s softness).
In Wool vs Cotton : When and Where, it is mentioned that socks made of lighter weight Merino Wool blend are preferred because they can easily be worn every season of the year. Lighter weight wool are woven less densely than cotton, so you’ll get a fabric that’s very thin, very breathable, and still presentable – one that absorbs and releases moisture naturally and easily.
Wool is also durable and can withstand the wear and tear of everyday usage (wool fibers can bend over 20,000 times, whereas cotton can only take 3,000). Aside from being odor-resistant (less time washing) as I mentioned earlier, it also doesn’t wrinkle like cotton or linen, so less time ironing! 😀
But the special thing about Merino wool is that it is said to not have the itchy feel of some wools. You know, even cotton sometimes feel itchy…
For a soft but durable Merino wool, I would probably choose yarn that is a blend of Merino wool, Alpalca wool and premium acrylic such as this Peru Alpaca Bulky Cream melange. Merino wool yarn can be pretty costly, but you could get a good price if you keep a look out for bargains such as this:
Shipping is a huge factor for us here in Malaysia, even regular shipping costs more than RM55-00 at Ice Yarns. So, make sure you buy a lot so that shipping costs becomes marginally lower.
And bear in mind, Merino Wool is not advisable for those allergic to wool or the lanolin in wool.
For more information on wool and the Campaign For Wool which is going on worldwide, please visit The Campaign For Wool. The Campaign, which started in United Kingdom, is now joined by Australia, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Japan, Korea and China.
If you’ve knitted or crocheted with wool yarn of whatever blend (100%, 50%, or less), I would love to hear your opinion about it. Do share ya! 😀