Sustainable – all wool and a yard wide
Wool is a natural animal fibre and therefore a natural renewable resource. It is mostly obtained from sheep and it is still of great importance today, in spite of the popularity of synthetic fibres and cotton. In this blog post, you will learn all about wool: how it is produced, its special characteristics and how it is used.
What is wool and what are the distinguishing features of the different types?
What we call wool is the soft hair of the fleece, usually obtained from sheep. Sheep are shorn once a year, usually in summer. The warm wool can become unpleasant for the animals when the mercury rises. It is important to distinguish between different quality grades of wool. Pure new wool comes from healthy, living sheep; it is not recycled wool. (Reprocessed, or shoddy,) wool, on the other hand, is of lower quality than pure new wool and is obtained from semi-finished and finished products by grinding it down to a fibrous state for re-spinning, whereas dead wool comes from dead sheep. Lamb’s wool comes from the first shearing of six-month-old lambs. This wool is short, loose, especially fine and very soft. Wool can also come from other animals, such as goats, camels or rabbits. Cashmere wool, for example, is well-known and this comes from the downy winter undercoat of cashmere goats and is often used to produce high-quality sweaters. Alpaca wool also has a particularly high market value, as the animals are shorn only every two years.
How do I recognise genuine and high-quality wool?
The Pure New Wool seal is the world’s best known quality mark for high-quality textile fibres and guarantees a long-term commitment between wool producers, spinning mills, brands and consumers. This quality mark is awarded by the Australian Woolmark Company for products that meet the following criteria: Use of pure new wool, residual fat content of 1 per cent, specified minimum values for tensile strength, specified minimum values for colour fastness.
If the label also contains the words “machine washable” or “superwash”, in addition to the above criteria, it must also guarantee anti-felting. If the wool is a fibre blend, the Wool Rich Blend seal shows the exact percentages of the raw materials used. This is a quality mark for textiles with a minimum of 50% new wool and a maximum of 50% non-wool fibres. The Wool Blend Performance seal, on the other hand, means that at least 30 percent of the woollen goods are made of new wool with a tolerance of 3%. What you should note, however, is that the terms “pure wool” or “100% wool” are not quality designations. These products may contain recycled material as well as wool from dead or diseased sheep.
Why is wool still so popular today?
Wool is a unique, renewable and biodegradable raw material. In contrast to synthetic fibres such as polyester, wool does not release microscopic plastic particles into the sea when washed, making it an environmentally friendly resource. In addition, wool has thermo-regulatory properties, which means that our human body heat balance is regulated much better than with synthetic clothing. The fibres are breathable and absorb unpleasant odours, making them ideal for sportswear, too. The wool wax lanolin makes the wool water- and dirt repellent. In sheep, this lanolin ensures that they do not get soaked even when it rains heavily. Finally, wool is very elastic, which is why textiles made of wool hardly ever crease.
From sheep to clothing
After shearing, the wool is sorted according to colour and quality. Afterwards, dirt and the lanolin are washed out, causing the freshly sheared wool to lose at least half its weight. In the cleaned fleece all the fibres are in disarray. Before the material can be used further, it must be teased, combed and, if necessary, dyed. Then it is spun into yarn, which is woven into fabrics or used for knitting.
Wool in menswear
The fabrics are then processed to make clothing. CG – CLUB of GENTS also uses the natural fibre for various garments such as suits, coats, trousers and sweaters. Australia is the main country of origin from which we source wool for our garments. The CG – CLUB of GENTS’ weaving mills also import a proportion of their wool from New Zealand and Tasmania.
How to care for your woollen textiles
Wool products are good quality and have a long life span. To avoid matting and destroying the fibres, you should follow these care tips:
- Dab off stains and remove knots with a wool razor or comb
- Hang moth deterrents in your wardrobe
- Air wool clothing frequently, rather than washing it
- Wash wool in the wool-wash cycle or in the hand-wash cycle
- Use a wool detergent or a mild detergent
- never dry in the tumble-dryer, but roll up in a towel and squeeze the water out gently
- dry garment flat (not in the sun, but in an airy, shady place)
- It is usually not necessary to iron wool garments