The Versatility of Wool

At the Flag Wool and Fiber Festival June 2, 2019, part of my presentation was on the versatility of wool. Some of these facts may be obvious to some of you and some may be new.  We are all concerned about the environment, wool needs to be presented as a fiber that has many benefits to the person using the wool, either through wearing it or using it in their home, and has very few limitations.  The limitations will be discussed in another blog.

  1.  Wool is 100% natural as it grows on sheep.  It is not based on petroleum or other harmful elements, contains no artificial chemicals.
  2. Wool is a renewable resource since it grows on sheep.  As long as there is grass to graze on, water to drink, air and sunshine, sheep will produce a new fleece every year.  Shearing sheep is like a person getting a haircut.  It is not harmful to the animal and actually needs to be shorn off for the health of the animal.  If not sheared each year, it would be like a person putting on a fleece at the beginning of the year, then the start of the next year, donning another fleece and continues until the person can’t stand up.  Shearing sheep has been an occupation since the beginning of the domestication of the animal.
  3. When the wool is turned into fabric, it uses significantly less energy than man-made fibers.  Wool production produces lower carbon dioxide emissions and for all you environmentalist, has a low carbon impact on the earth; a win-win for all!
  4.  Sheep consume biomass carbon (carbon converted through photosynthesis) when they eat grass and thus is it transformed into amino acids of the wool fibers
  5.  Wool is biodegradable and can be returned to the soil, or marine environment where it decomposes and releases valuable nitrogen based nutrients back into the ground or ocean.
  6.  Wool reduces microsynthetic fiber pollution as wool biodegrades relatively rapidly and does not accumulate in the environment as synthetic fibers do.  Man mad fibers soak up toxins in the environment which can be eaten by fish which in turn can be part of the food chain for man.  Synthetics are much more harmful to the environment when they are part of the food chain.
  7.  In most cases wool is an easy to care for fiber and stain resistant.  The protective outer layer of a wool fiber is a natural resistant to stains.  When used in carpets, the overlapping scales means that dirt sits on the surface of the rug and is easily vacuumed and removed.  In the same way, spills will not absorb quickly and thus can be easily blotted up.  Similarly, wool carpet and clothes do not attract static electricity and that means lint, dirt and dust with no static does not cling to garments or carpet.  The absorption property of wool means that it will take harmful pollutants from the internal air in a building (think your home) and since it does not release it back to the atmosphere makes your air cleaner!
  8.  Wool also has great sound insulation properties and can be used to limit the spread of sounds in a building. (think children’s bedroom!)
  9.  If a wool dryer ball is used in your clothes dryer, the amount of time necessary to dry clothes decreases.  Your electric bill is reduced and the time for doing the laundry is reduced.  The wool dryer ball also keeps a consumer from using fabric softeners and, that in itself, is a savings to the consumer.  The bouncing balls fluffs your clothes and that helps reduce the drying time and using these balls means your clothes do not have the artificial fragrances from a dryer sheet.  I highly recommend the use of these dryer balls and they can be purchased on line.  I bought mine at Mystic Pines Fiber Processing in Williams, Arizona.  They have a webpage where these and other items can be purchased from them.
  10.  When wool is dyed, it absorbs color deeply and uniformly.
  11.  Wool has a unique crimp providing it with a natural elasticity and the fabric will return to its natural shape, resist wrinkles and creasing.  Wool fibers can be bend more times (20,000 times) over cotton (3,000) and silk (2,000) without breaking and thus makes wool fabric resistant to tearing.

Limitations of wool which only amounts to five things will be discussed tomorrow.


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