A lot of people associate wool and its use in clothing with that old rugged sweater from grandad’s wardrobe.
And while there is plenty to love about those old jumpers, there is much more to wool!
A lot of people tend to sway away from wool over concerns of the garment not being comfortable and being a little scratchy, but what does this have to do with grandad’s jersey?
Well, I think that's where this misconception comes from. The truth is, wool comes in many shapes and forms. Spinning methods have improved quite a bit since back in the day which means that your knits are going to be much better quality.
The composition of the wool is the important factor when it comes to how soft the wool is. It will knit the way it knits. It also makes it more compact (which you'll know is handy if you've ever tried to pack a wooly jumper in a backpack).
When it is fine it does lose that cosy blanket-type feeling you get from a big wooly jumper. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be walking around itchy all day if you want that thick jumper feel. Most people who aren’t used to wearing thick wool layers adjust to the feeling pretty quickly.
The grade of wool used in most modern jerseys, especially the ever practical v-neck pullovers, keeps that warmth and gives it a lighter, smoother feel. It becomes even softer on the skin when you mix possum and merino together!
For people craving that super soft feel, we would recommend going for a garment that is a blend of more than just merino. A number of our merino possum blended jumpers also include silk or nylon as they bring an added durability needed with the possum.
So there we have it! Nothing to worry about when it comes to wool being itchy.
For those with super sensitive skin there are natural fibre alternatives and blends which will keep you snug and comfy!
Can I be allergic to wool?
In our experience with wool, we have had some people completely rule out wearing it on the basis of an allergy.
As far as we at New Zealand Natural Clothing can tell, there isn’t exactly an allergy to wool but more of a sensitivity to it.
There is some evidence that sensitivity happens with garments with high fibre dimensions.
This means the traditional thick wool that is not well refined. This is not to do with the chemical makeup of wool itself. Although this is uncommon, there is luck for those with sensitive skin as there is no evidence that Super-fine and Ultra-fine Merino wool fibres cause any irritation at all.
Wool can be more or less irritating depending on how coarse it is and the size of its fibers. Larger, coarse fibers will be rougher on the skin and more irritating. Since wool can come from a variety of animals, you might notice that you react more to the coarseness of a wool garment depending on which animal it comes from.
If you’re using a new laundry detergent, it’s possible that your skin is reacting to that product and not the wool you’re wearing.
Of course, wool is also very warm. So, if you sweat while wearing wool, you may develop an irritation where it rubs your skin.
See this diagram for coarse fibres vs fine merino:
Far from being an allergen, recent research conducted by The Woolmark Company has demonstrated that wearing superfine wool garments against the skin is therapeutic in the treatment of eczema (atopic dermatitis).
Dr Lynda Spelman of Queensland Institute of Dermatology says that participants in a study she conducted showed substantially reduced eczema symptoms when they wore superfine wool undergarments. None of the participants displayed an allergic or irritant reaction.
“We have seen substantial reductions in skin dryness,redness and itchiness and in the measured area of inflammation – and for a number of the patients, this is the first time a real solution to their condition has been presented,” Dr Spelman said.
The moral of the story is, yes some woollen products can be itchy, but if you invest in good quality you can enjoy feeling warm and toasty in a stylish knit with no itchiness whatsoever!
Just drop us a line in the chat box if you have any questions. and take a look at our own NZNC baselayers.