Written by OSU student Jessy Woodworth.
When you think of wool, you probably picture a scratchy blanket at your grandma’s house or a tightly woven ball she tosses in the dryer. Well, that’s not all wool can be. I’m wearing wool right now while writing this to you and probably while you’re reading this, too. My fall and winter jacket is made of wool, as well as my sweater, ear warmers, socks and boot cuffs.
My family has been raising sheep for over 40 years and enjoying their fiber long before that. The breed we raise is a cross between Hampshire and Suffolk sheep, which we call a Suffshire. Most of the lambs we have every year go to kids in 4-H and FFA to take to their county fairs.
As a lifelong shepherd and avid wool wearer, you can trust me to tell you the top five reasons to add more wool to your wardrobe.
1. You can wear it any season
Wool has a reputation for being a fall and winter fabric, but it can be worn year-round. Since wool is made of thin fibers woven together, it has small air pockets. These air pockets keep you insulated in the cold and breathe in the heat. The pockets also wick away moisture, like sweat, spilled coffee and rain, keeping you dry all day. In fact, wool can hold 30 percent of its weight in moisture before you can notice it at all.
2. It’s healthy and humane
Not just for you, but for the animal as well. Wool-producing animals need to be shorn for many reasons, but the most important is that wool can get enormously heavy if left unchecked. Wool doesn’t stop growing. It will just keep getting longer and the animals can become immobile from the weight and bulk
Your health is also improved by wearing wool. Since wool doesn’t hold onto moisture, it is resistant to mold and mildew. Wool is even antimicrobial due to its ability to get rid of moisture, which bacteria and other nasty things need to grow. When bacteria and microbes can’t grow, odor doesn’t linger, which is why wool is such a great material for socks.
3. It’s clean
When wool grows out of a sheep or other wool-producing animals, there is a fatty oil coating on it called lanolin. Lanolin is mostly cleaned off when the wool is processed and is used in lotions and conditioners, but some is left on the fibers. Since there is this light coating, dirt and dust don’t stick to the fibers, meaning wool requires less laundering.
4. It’s comfortable
Quality wool is not itchy. However, lower quality wool can be. A way to combat this is to use a fabric softener when washing it. Also, don’t put your wool clothes in the dryer unless the label says it is okay to do so because they’ll shrink, and you’ll have to give that gorgeous sweater to your dog.
5. It’s sustainable
Wool is a great fiber for the planet. It’s long lasting and can be reused in several different ways. Have a bunch of out-of-style sweaters? Cut them into squares and make a quilt. Use the sleeves for pet sweaters or leg warmers. Make mittens from the hemline. The possibilities are endless. Just ask Pinterest. Not to mention that, since it is natural, it’s also biodegradable. If you let it, it will be completely gone in one year, which is a far cry from other fabrics clogging up our landfills. How’s that for a miracle fabric?