BREEDSPECIFIC WOOL - WHY WOOL OF EVERY SHEEP BREED IS GOOD
You know how they say that one type of wool is prickly and another soft, right? You definitely need to know why.
As with other animals, there are breeds of sheep, more than 1,400 worldwide. There are several categories we can distinguish, for example:
- according to the final produce we recognize meat, milk and wool breeds
- with regard to wool, we recognize coarse, fine-wool or long-wool breeds (and some categories in between, as medium, so that it is not too easy).
Different breeds of sheep - different wool
The individual breeds therefore differ according to the climate that suits them, according to how much milk, meat or offspring they give, but also what type of wool they have. It is not surprising (although not a widely spread knowledge) that each of them has a slightly different wool. It can differ in length, fineness, density, amount of lanolin, crimp, color or shape.
The basic properties of wool as such (thermoregulation, hygroscopicity, memory, etc.) remain the same for all types. You can find more about them HERE.
A big mistake, however, is the assumption that only the fine wool is "good" and the others are worthless. The secret of good use of wool is the concept of so-called breedspecific yarns/ wools.
In short, this means that the appropriate wool type + the appropriate project = successful result.
There is, of course, poor quality wool, but that does not depend on the breed. Every breed of sheep can give wonderful quality fleeces or poor ones - that depends on many other factors, such as the condition or age of the sheep, the method of feeding, grazing and shelter, degree of pollution, etc.
The whole truth about the fine wool
Today, fine wool is in great demand. We know, everyone has their trauma story of a prickly sweater or leggings from childhood, but the fact is that we are very spoiled today. We have more choices than our ancestors had, for whom the insulating properties of wool were simply more valuable than fineness, but that should not mean that we cannot make an informed choice. What is often forgotten, when considering fine wool, is the low resistance of its fiber. It never withstands as much abrasion and friction as a coarser wave, so it deteriorates faster and cannot maintain good appearance for a long time because of pilling.
Of course, we don't suggest you clench your teeth and wear coarse wool on your bare body :-) We suggest that you know how fine wool and coarser wool will behave in a given project. Fine merino is only one end of the spectrum. Between it and the really coarse types, there is an extremely wide range of wool that is easy to wear, and it's a shame not to recognize and use it.
A good analogy is when you imagine wood production: Just as different wood is used for different purposes, there are ideal products for almost all types of wool. If you have all the wooden accessories in the house made of linden, soft wood, they will not serve you very well and few masters carpenters will take responsibility for such a choice.
It's the same with wool - the finest merino is demanded too widely, while much more attention should be paid to where you want to use the wool.
Use fine wool wherever you need a really fine fiber, but at the same time keep in mind that the project is not subject to frequent and intense abrasion. Make a neck scarf, hat or blanket for your baby. However, if you want a sweater that will last for years, gloves or socks, home accesories or art tapestries, you'd better reach for a stronger yarn ... for example, the local one in our shop :-)
The concept of breedspecific wool is therefore definitely good news for any local wool of various properties. For our Slovak wool, too.