Wool Breed Series: Part 1 - Merino Wool Roving (King of the Sheep)
Merino Sheep History:
There are over 200 Sheep breeds spread across the globe and the merino sheep is the consensus choice as the single most important breed. The breed is heavily populated across Australia and New Zealand, but the Merino Sheep originated in Spain in the Middle Ages.
At the time, Spain’s wealth was based on the luxurious wool harvested from the sheep. They were considered a protected asset and it was a capital offense to export the sheep, until Napoleon invaded Spain and the trade routes opened for these sheep.
Merino sheep gained mass popularity in the United States in the 1860s when mass quantities of wool were needed to produce military uniforms for the Civil War.
What are Merino Sheep Known For?
Merino wool is the softest and finest wool in the world. This is because the sheep wool fibers (coats) are the thinnest of any sheep. With an average diameter of less than 25 microns the wool is flexible and less likely to scratch against skin. This is why it has been the preferred choice of sheep for next to skin clothing manufactures across the world.
Merino properties that make it unique from other sheep breeds:
- Fineness – The Merino sheep wool is super soft due to it’s thin diameter (low micron count)
- Fiber Length – Merino wool fibers are naturally long and therefore stronger than other breeds. This is important in clothing product (commercial or residential) because if the garment is made of too many short fibers it is prone to rip, tear and wear faster.
- Natural Crimp – Merino wool has more natural crimp to it than other sheep breeds’ wool. This means it has more durability and stretchiness to it, increasing the resilience of the yarn fabric. It also increases loft, making the wearable garment warmer.
Is Merino Wool Better Than Cotton?
Merino fibers are much softer than other wool breeds and the highest end merino (lower micron count) feels softer and lighter than cotton. More importantly, it is much better than cotton for warmth, temperature regulation, and moisture wicking. If you’re using merino wool for a next to skin project, you can be confident that you’ve made the right material choice.
What Makes Merino Wool So Special?
If you’re an avid crafter and DIY’er then you’re probably already familiar with all the wonderful properties of merino wool and why it’s perfect for beginner and advanced crafters alike. But we will take a minute here to reiterate some of the more refined qualities of merino below, as well as some of the most popular project uses.
Merino properties of finished products:
- Does not smell when worn for many days in a row
- Will not melt or drip if it burns
- Natural fire resistance (if you take an active flame source such as a lighter away, it will stop burning.)
- Keeps you warm when it is cold outside as well as when it gets wet
- Helps to keep you cool when it’s hot
- Moves moisture away from skin better than a synthetic
- Natural UV of SPF40+
Popular Project Uses
- Hand-spinning with a spinning wheel or drop spindle for your next knitting or crocheting project
- Knitting or crocheting scarfs, hats, shawls and next to skin clothing such as women’s tops and sweaters
- Creating chunky yarn arm-knit blankets and/or pet beds
- Great for weaving and tapestry art projects
- Perfect DIY wool dreads (dreadlocks for hair)
Here is a quick video tutorial hand knitting a chuncky blanket / pet bed for our little friend Simon.
How to Care For Your Merino Projects:
- Machine washable – Merino is easily washable up to 40 degrees Celsius so it can be washed with all your other clothing and regular detergent can be applied. Merino is self cleaning in water and naturally releases dirt and odor even in cold wash.
- Quick Drying – your merino garments will line dry quickly. If you feel the need to use your dryer, tumble dry on low heat. The less frequently you throw the garment in the dryer the longer life it will have.
Try our beautiful, all-natural merino wool roving today and let us know what you think!
To see the other Sheep Breed Wools we offer click here!
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