‘If we were to hear one day that a textile fibre had been discovered that could be produced in the open air or in basic buildings using little energy and without any waste, and that it came in different colours and lengths too, our interest would be piqued. If it also emerged that this fibre was non-toxic, kind to the skin, elastic, soundproofing, heat and moisture-regulating, dirt and water-repellent, fire-retardant, easy to clean, crease-resistant, reusable and 100% biodegradable, what name would we give this fibre? We would probably call it a miracle fibre. Sheep’s wool is just such a miracle – and a much-neglected one at that,’ write the Swedish wool experts Kerstin Gustafsson and Alan Waller.
Virgin wool is the oldest fibre used by mankind, and with good reason. No other fibre, man-made or natural, brings together as many positive characteristics as virgin wool:
Wool can hold a large amount of steam inside its fibres. This enables it to absorb up to a third of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp. It also wicks the absorbed moisture away much faster than fibres such as cotton. At the same time, the wool’s natural lanolin content (wool fat) protects the surface of the fibre from external moisture and dirt and causes (water) droplets to run off it.
As woollen products consist of up to 85% air (based on their total volume), they are very good at trapping heat and outstanding at soundproofing. Wool does not become static, so it attracts virtually no dust and dirt. Another advantage of wool is its excellent elasticity, which makes it practically crease-resistant.
Wool is also very colour-fast and flame-retardant. It does not burn but merely chars, making it ideal for use in interiors as well. Unlike artificial fibres, wool barely absorbs odours. Thanks to its natural self-cleaning properties, wool smells neutral and fresh after just a brief airing.