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what is so special about merino wool


Everyone has heard of Merino wool. But why is it so awesomely popular?

Where does it come from?

Merino wool comes from Merino sheep. They are originally from Spain but now you’ll most likely find them in Australia, New Zealand and the Falkland Islands.  

To grow the fine wool that we love the climate can’t be too cold or harsh and these locations are ideal for them (otherwise the sheep would grow thicker, coarser wool to keep them warmer).

If you’re really into finding out the history of these magnificent sheep then this journal article is just for you (I admit to losing a little chunk of my day reading this!)!

What do the sheep look like?

photograph of lots of merino sheep

Here's a photo of a bunch of merino sheep - cuddly!


Tell me about it?

One of the most striking things about merino is its lack of itchiness. Fibres are itchy depending on how thick and coarse they are, and how sensitive our skin is. Unless you live in the Arctic and wear your woolies over several underlayers, most of us want our knitwear to be soft against our skin - so a prickly wool is no use. Because merino fibres are so fine and flexible, they don’t prick our skin and cause the itchiness that less fine fibres will.    

merino wool vs human hair

A human hair (bottom of this photo) is about 100 microns (that, in old money, is 100 millionths of a metre. Pretty small!). A merino fibre (at the top) is usually smaller than 24 microns in diameter (teenier still!).

But why are the fibres so soft and fine and perfect and beautiful and gorgeous?

Healthy diets, good genes and the right environment mean that Merino sheep never stop growing a fine, crinkly wool - which is so soft you’ll want to rub your face on it!

Why is it so great for knitting?

Merino wool is lush. It’s soft, strong and keeps you cosy when it’s cold, and feels lightweight when it’s warm! It has a lovely airiness and bounce meaning your knitted item has body and looks good and you don't get sweaty!

Some Merino Sheep / Wool Facts:

  • They originally come from Spain. Olé!
  • The most wool ever shorn from a Merino sheep was 40kilos! His name was Chris and he was 5 years late for his hairdresser appointment.
  • These sheep are your perfect nomads – they love a bit of wondering around the pastures.
  • Merino wool is so good, it’s worn by arctic adventurers, soldiers and firefighters. It’s also worn by astronauts – British manufacturer Armadillo Merino has made t-shirts that have gone to space!

Tim Peake - Famous British Astronaut

Tim Peake - British astronaut!
  • Merino sheep are shorn once a year to keep them looking smart and respectable.
  • Merino wool is the ultimate up-yours to the plastic pollution problem: it’s biodegradable. Fed up of your knitted hat? Just throw it in the compost heap (like Prince Charles!). It’ll be gone (in an environmentally friendly way!) in a few months.  Why not have a read here to find out what else we think about the environment.

If, like us, you’ve discovered a liking for merino sheep then you might fancy having a nosey at our very own, brand new Merino Knit Kit Company yarn – Ski Merino and Scuba Merino. British in every way, and we’ve made it just for you.

Get your very own Merino Yarn here!

-Hels & Lou

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