People wear wool sweaters and other types of woollen garments since thousands of years and are still widely worn, thanks to their special thermal capacity. A wool garment will keep us warm in winter as well as light wool garments keep us cool in summer. Wool is a highly versitale material: available in many different weights, textures and colors. It’s a textile fiber obtained from the fleece of many animals (ovises, sheeps and some species of goats), through a process called shearing.
Every animal produces a different kind of wool – the best quality wool sweaters are made in Merino or Cashmere wools. The most valuable is the one that comes from the fleece of Merinos sheeps, it is very fine, soft and smooth. Cashmere is even finer than Merino wool, but because of it’s delicacy it has less resistance. Cashmere comes from the fleece of goats that originally came form a region of Tibet – called Kashmir.
“Every sheep yields about 7,500 km of fiber per year. A professional shearer can remove an entire goat fleece in under 5 minutes‘ – Uomo vogue / the art of merino”
This video illustrates effectively all the processes that the fibers pass through before becoming a finished garment.
The quality labels, recognized in over 100 countries and determined by Woolmark Company, an Australian company founded in 1937, indicate the content of new wool in the woollen products. When wool is obtained only through shearing, it is considered new. Other wools instead are obtained from recovery of fibers from old clothing as well as from all scraps of the textile industry. Therefore a wool sweater can be 100% wool, but contain different amount of new wool, this is where the quality labels come into play to indicate the percentage of new wool in one product. – (images from www.woolmark.com).
|This indicates that the product contains 100% pure new wool.||This indicates that the product contains 50%-99% pure new wool||This indicates that the product contains 30%-49% pure new wool.|
Now to the maintenance of the wool sweaters: who hasn’t ever ruined one in the washing machine? If these garments are washed without attention and care with common detergents in hot water, the result, most of the times, is an irreparable narrowing and felting accompanied by loss of color. If wool sweater is washable by hand (does not require dry cleaning), this must be done with mild/ neutral detergent in barely warm water, without rubbing the garment. The rinse should be done with care and with plenty of water. Adding a small amount of vinegar to the rinsing water can prevent felting of the material, prolonging the natural luster of the garment.
To dry the garment, lay it horizontally, because when wet wool sweaters lose shape with ease. It’s also important to remember not to dry the garment directly in the sun or near by a direct source of heat. Finally, to remove the wrinkles, you can leave the sweater on a hanger in a humid environment (shower box for example) for a short period of time and then leave it rest overnight. If you do not have time for this, wool sweaters can also be ironed, just remember that the temperature shall not exceed 150 ° C, and you should avoid prolonged contact between the iron and the wool.