Why people love merino extra fine wool
Merino wool is one of our favourites to work with. It’s versatile and works well combined with other fibres
We’ve talked about Merino wool before, including some of the best things about merino wool.
But there are different types of merino wool. There is a difference between fine and extra fine merino wool, also known as super-fine. And this means that there are a few things that the extra fine merino can be used for to make our clothing even better.
Why do we love merino wool?
Merino wool is an amazing natural fibre. It can be used for a wide variety of things, because it has lots of useful properties.
It’s lightweight, very comfortable and soft so it feels great against the skin. It’s also able to cope with temperatures between -10 and +30 degrees celsius so merino wool clothes are naturally cool and breathable in summer and warm and insulated in winter.
Part of being breathable is because merino wool fibres can work a bit like a sponge, able to absorb and then dispel water quickly. So it keeps you dry for longer if it rains, and allows sweat and odor to easily disperse into the air. No wet patches with merino wool.
Merino wool is also very durable and hard-wearing, so clothes made with these strong fibres last for a long time. It’s also naturally odor resistant and anti-microbial, so clothes don’t get smelly as quickly as other materials might do when worn for the same length of time.
So what’s the difference between fine and extra fine?
It’s all in the microns.
Microns are a measurement of how fine wool is, based on the diameter of the follicle. The smaller the micron count, the finer the wool and the softer the fibre. Smaller micron counts and finer, softer wool often mean it is more expensive.
A human hair is normally between 40 to 90 microns. The hair of a Cashmere goat is around 19 microns, so it’s much softer.
Merino wool has an average micron count of 21.5.
Fine merino wool...
Fine merino wool is less than 21.5 microns. It makes for high quality, soft fabrics and clothes.
The fibres have some elastic properties, meaning that they don’t wrinkle or need ironing. So some companies use fine merino wool for woolen shirts, making them easy maintenance and soft on the skin. Using fine merino wool allows the use of these useful properties, without the price increase that using the higher quality extra fine merino can bring.
This also makes the fabric great for any travelling, as you can quickly pull your clothes out of your suitcase without worrying about needing to hang things up or having an iron to hand.
...versus extra fine merino wool.
Extra fine merino wool is less than 19.5 microns, closer to cashmere in softness. (But you can get far more per fleece from a merino sheep than you can from a cashmere goat, which is why it isn’t as expensive.)
So extra fine merino means finer fibres than fine merino wool, and that means it feels softer and is less likely to itch.
Most merino is unlikely to itch compared to regular sheep wool anyway, but extra fine is even better than standard merino. This is why extra-fine is prized for baby clothes and blankets.
Merino wool is great for layering underneath clothing. Especially when working or exploring outdoors. Extra fine merino is great in a base layer garment being softer and more insulating against the skin. The better insulation is due to smaller gaps between fibres in the weave, but this doesn’t compromise on how breathable the fabric is. This means it’s very good for base layers and socks, as it won’t rub uncomfortably and it will keep you warmer without trapping sweat and moisture.
Extra fine and extra comfy
So extra fine merino wool is simply that. Finer than normal merino wool, extra soft and extra comfortable. Great for base layers, due to its insulating and breathable properties, and how durable and hard wearing it is, extra fine merino wool is brilliant and we at New Zealand Natural Clothing certainly love it.