Why Merino Wool is So Cool?
Top 5 unique merino properties, which help create our chunky blankets and scarves so temptingly gorgeous.
Giant knitted blankets and scarves are made of merino wool top. This wool feels really warm and soft against the skin, is hypoallergenic, silky and last but really not least – eco-friendly. It’s widely used in the production of sportswear and even premium undies. But that’s not the point why merino wool became the “It” thing in giant knitting.
Merino wool differs by very long and fine staples, which perfectly weave together with the help of its natural scales. This property helps merino wool keep the volume, which is a core feature of giant knit items. The length of merino staples may be up to 8 cm. This determines the size of a stitch in our blankets and scarves, which is approximately 7,5 cm (3 inches).
Fibre thickness is yet another vital characteristic that determines the quality and influences the final price of the wool. The finest knitted items are made solely with the thinnest fibers. Merino wool of the finest grade has between 14 and 20 microns in diameter, that’s what they call extra fine merino wool. Material with a thickness of 22 to 26 microns is considered medium merino wool. Everything above this point will cause itching and irritate the skin. Let’s focus on the finest mentioned. Just for a raw comparison, a hair of a blond European has at least 40 microns in diameter, and a hair of an Asian is up to 150 microns.
Keep calm and do felting
Every stitch consists of thousand fibers tightly weaved together with their scales. This process is called felting. Unprocessed merino top is very soft and silky, but the fibers get detached too easily – so if you decide to knit something out of unprocessed top, the fibers will scatter every time a gentle breeze blows. And that is definitely not something you’d like to happen with your new knit garment, right?
But mind the details
So to make an item a real long-liver we need to felt the wool. but if we try too hard it will stop shedding and lose softness, airiness, and delicacy. The stitches may end up being full, and a blanket or a scarf soon will start reminding an enormously heavy fishing net.
Soap, washing powder, and other detergents all heavily contribute to the felting process. So once you wash your merino wool item, it will be used-up.
The ideal state of wool for arm knitting is semi-felted. And we get it by hand without any additional substances.
It’s worth mentioning that the thinner (which also means the better) merino wool is, the easier it is to felt it. Here at Ohhio we use only the finest wool, and it definitely helps us to cut down on time we need to make every single item. Thin fibers tangle gradually after numerous but very gentle movements along the surface. This process is called a surface felting effect, and it’s utterly important when it comes to long lasting comfort in using such an item. The trick here lies under the surface, literally. The inner fibers stay as they are and keep the item light, airy and fluffy, while the surface layer holds the fibers in and serves as a kind of shell.
Such surface felting effect is practically unachievable if you deal with low-grade merino wool with fibers over 26 microns in diameter. It’s also impossible if you use synthetic fibers like acrylic, as long as this material does not have scales to hook them together. But beware: one could hardly tell which wool has fibers of 14 microns and which one 30, you even may not notice the difference by touch if you’re not a specialist, but suspiciously low price of “merino wool” garments Made in China should make you doubt.
As for the knitting process itself, it’s really quick and simple. The one and only time devourer here is a correct preparation of the wool.
And look after your clothes with love!
Still, even perfectly prepared wool may shed with time. Unfortunately, it’s natural process, which you can avoid only if you have your wool heavily felted — too heavily to be used for something except valenki. But it is not critical for comfortable use — all materials shed, but usually we simply do not notice it at once, it’s a gradual process.
The thing you really need to know to keep your wooly garments in a good shape is correct use and good care. These little tricks will help you maintain the effect of surface felting and make your blanket even better over the years. What exactly you should do to prolong the life of your beloved merino wool knitwear we’ll tell in the next articles.