Why is merino wool the Knitters best friend?
Merino wool yarn is wonderful to knit in! It’s soft and easy flowing on the needles.
And it’s light and elastic and makes each stitch smooth and neat. Any stitch pattern looks stunning in a solid colored merino yarn.
Merino is also a commonly used material amongst adventurers and others with a need to keep warm and dry during outdoor activities.
If you’re interested in other types of knitting fibers as well, be sure to click here to check out the articles in the fiber category!
About the merino wool
The merino sheep’s wool is considered especially good, it has finer and softer fibers than other wool.
The finer the fibers is the finer is the wool, and the merino wool is finer than many other types of sheep, thanks to the breading towards fine wool.
A fibers thickness is also a result of the environment the sheep lives in. A climate with little rain, large pasturages, exercise and sparsely with food gives wool.
The fine merino wool is very elastic and are spun to yarn, of course, but also weaved into fine wool fabrics for pullovers and jackets. It’s used for high-quality tricot and for undergarments and socks.
Why merino wool is perfect for both babies and adventurers outfits
Merino wool clothing is used by adventurers and climbers because of its abilities to keep you warm when it’s cold and to keep you cool when it’s warm by ”breathing”.
After all, the wool is designed by nature to keep sheep comfortable in all weathers.
Merino wool has many pros:
- It’s soft to the touch and itches less than other types of wool.
- It’s warm to wear when the environment is cold
- It’s very lightweight
- It’s cooling when the environment is warm
- It’s moisture repellant and can keep you dry
- It’s odor resistant
What makes merino wool soft and itch-free?
The itchiness that can be a problem with wool depends on the diameter of the fiber. Thicker fibers don’t bend when pressed to the skin and can cause the itch.
Merino sheep have soft and fine fibers which bend easily and feels really soft to the skin. It’s perfect for knitting garments that you wear close to your body like cowls and baby clothes and baby blankets.
Why is merino wool clothing so warm and light?
A garment knit in merino wool will be warm yet lightweight to wear. The merino fiber has an outstanding warmth to weight ratio and a garment knitted in merino wool yarn will keep you warm and comfortable like nothing else.
Merino fibers have millions of tiny air pockets that will work like insulation and keep you warm as the air-pockets preserves your body heat even in really cold weather.
Keep cool with merino wool yarn
Wool has the ability to store moisture, as well as air, within the fiber. As your body gets warm, the moisture stored within the fiber will begin to evaporate, cooling the air between your skin and the fabric. The warmer you get the more evaporation takes place and the larger the cooling effect.
Breathing and moisture repellant
Breathability is the ability of a fiber to transfer moisture from a humid place to a place with lower humidity.
The merino fibers outside are repellant to moisture and the inside can absorb moisture. So, as your body gets warm, the moisture vapors will get absorbed by the merino fiber and released to the drier environment outside the fabric.
A merino fiber can absorb moisture up to 30 percent of its own weight and still feel dry. And even if the fiber gets really wet it dries up quickly.
The anti-microbial properties found naturally in merino makes it odor resistant, that’s another reason why adventures like it so much … As the fiber transports the moisture away from your skin, the bacteria that causes smell doesn’t thrive.
The merino sheep
Merino yarn is made out of wool from the merino sheep, the wool is long and soft and makes a durable and incredibly soft and lightweight yarn.
The merino is a medium-sized sheep, most commonly with white wool and white face and leg.
Breed for wool production
Mostly the merino is breaded for its soft wool, but there’s also merino strains that are breaded for meat. The merino sheep commonly has wrinkled skin, but not always.
Merino sheep produce large amounts of wool and have to be trimmed at least one time a year. If sheep aren’t trimmed they can get trouble moving because of the thickness of the wool. A fully grown sheep produces between 3 and 18 kilos of wool each year.
Merino wool yarn history!
The merino sheep is held mainly for its wool and has spread from Spain and almost all the way around the world.
Australia – the land of wool
At the beginning of the 19th century, the first merino sheep came to Australia, today Australia is the area with most merino sheep.
Australia is also the country that produces the biggest part of the wool in the world. Over 80 percent of the finest quality merino wool comes from Australia.
Other areas producing a lot of merino wool is South Africa, Argentina, New Zeeland, and Uruguay.
The wrinkled skin
In the 19th and early 20th century the merino sheep were breaded to have wrinkled, most in Australia and the USA because there was a strong belief that sheep with the wrinkled skin would produce more wool.
Since early 20th century merinos are breaded towards a smoother skin again. Research shows that production rather went down than up because of the deathly diseases associated with the wrinkled skin.
The sheep get moisture in the wrinkles which cause problems with flies laying eggs in the damp wool and sore skin. The maggots then eat their way into the sheep’s skin and make it ill. This disease is called flystrike.
moisture in the wrinkles which cause problems with flies laying eggs in the damp wool and sore skin. The maggots then eat their way into the sheep’s skin and make it ill. This disease is called flystrike.
To keep the flies away from the sheep ranchers perform a procedure called mulesing in which they cut off chunks of skin from the sheep’s backsides. This is often done without painkillers and is painful for the animal.
There has been a lot of discussion about mulesing of merino sheep in Australia, and this can be something to think about when to buy merino yarn. It’s a good idea to ask the salesperson at the yarn store about where the wool comes from and if they can guarantee that the sheep have had a good life.
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