Wool is a wonderfully versatile natural fibre. It’s a thermal insulator – so it’s good for keeping you warm – it’s naturally breathable, and you can knit it (in a lot of different styles) or weave it into cloth.
You can turn wool into everything, from carpets to horse blankets to cosy Aran sweaters, but every type of wool is a little different. Merino wool has some specific differences from regular sheep’s wool.
What is merino wool?
Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep, often raised in mountainous regions of Australia and New Zealand. Merino sheep have to be hardy and able to thrive in these tough environments under bright, harsh sunlight and in extreme temperatures. Their fleece never stops growing, so their wool is exceptionally long. It blends well with silk and cashmere to make ultra-soft, luxurious fibres, but even on its own it’s a high-performance material that’s great for athletics wear or anything worn close to the skin.
Why is merino wool different?
As it’s so soft and smooth, merino wool is less itchy than regular sheep’s wool. It’s really hard to overstate just how soft merino wool is. A single strand is thinner than a human hair and bends when it touches skin, so it can’t scratch you and make you itch. That makes it great for baby clothes or for people with sensitive skin. That softness and smoothness is also why merino wool is used in a lot of luxury clothes like those you’ll find when you go online to Shamrock Gifts for Aran sweaters.
Merino sheep are adapted to extreme temperatures, and their wool is part of that; it naturally insulates but also lets out heat to keep you comfortable in heat or cold.
Merino wool is also really easy to care for. It traps the bacteria that cause odours, absorbing them and stopping smells from building up. This obviously makes it a great choice for athletic wear that gets sweaty, and it also means you don’t need to wash merino as often as other textiles. When you do wash it, it usually won’t shrink or stretch as long as you don’t machine dry it, so a merino garment can last a long time.
So, it is soft, hard-wearing and ultra-comfortable. Merino is basically a super fibre!