Spring styles are filling the stores and I’m writing a post about wool? Yes. Most parts of the country have many chilly days ahead. I often address questions from clients and readers. Pieces made from wool have raised several questions lately. First, here is the factual information.
Wool is resilient and garments will last many years. It will return to its original condition after being stretched or creased. For that reason, take time in between wear so it returns to its original shape. Wool is pretty resistant to dirt, and wear and tear.
It will also absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp, which makes it excellent for winter wear.
Wool is generally thought to be bulky and heavy. Wool often gets a bad rap for being “itchy”. Times have changed. You will see many wool blends that are beautiful easy to wear fabrics that are soft and smooth. In recent years Merino wool (named from a certain breed of sheep) has become popular. Wool is typically considered as a warm weather fabric. In actuality, wool can be worn in other seasons. Wool breathes.
Merino wool is common in high-end, performance athletic wear. Several properties contribute to merino’s popularity for exercise clothing, compared to wool in general and to other types of fabric:
- Merino is excellent at regulating body temperature, especially when worn against the skin. The wool provides some warmth, without overheating the wearer. It draws moisture (sweat) away from the skin. This is known as wicking. The fabric is slightly moisture repellent, yet you won’t feel like you’re wearing wet clothing.
- Like cotton, wool absorbs water but, unlike cotton, wool retains warmth when wet, thus helping wearers avoid hypothermia after strenuous workouts (climbs) or weather events.
- Merino is one of the softest types of wool available, due to finer fibers and smaller scales.
- Merino has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio compared to other wools.
Caring for Wool:
- Don’t wash wool too often! Washing wool too frequently can wear out the fabric, and shorten its life.
- Instead, in between washing wool garments brush off the dirt and don’t let it settle.
- You can ‘refresh’ wool by putting it in a steamy bathroom. A warm iron on the wool or steam setting can also be used.
- Treat small stains by rinsing them with cold water or seltzer and then blotting them dry with a clean cloth.
- When you do need to wash wool, put it on a delicate settings and don’t rub it. If your washer allows you to adjust the spin cycle, make sure it is very low.
- To remove excess water after washing, gently roll the garment in a towel.
- Dry on a flat surface away from direct heat or sunlight. Wool should never be put in the dryer, as that is likely to result in shrinking.
- When traveling, loosely roll or fold wool garments with tissue paper to keep the fabric’s shape and avoid wrinkles.
- Dry cleaning once a season is usually sufficient to keep wool garments in good shape. Some people like to dry clean more frequently.
The idea for this post was a result of clients being frustrated with their wool items shrinking even after following the directions carefully. I wish I could provide all the answers. Simply said, there are many different types of wool and many inconsistencies, often based on price. Hopefully some the tips above will be helpful.
I have not had much trouble with my wool pieces, but I typically spot clean and dry clean because I’m often wearing something underneath the wool piece and they don’t need to be cleaned as frequently.
Over to you. What is your take on wool? Do you wear it often or not at all? How do you clean your wool?