• Claire Dunnett

So Why Merino Wool?

I seem to have been asked this question a lot lately so I thought I would fill you in on why I amongst others feel extremely privileged to be working with this amazing medium every day!


The Merino is one of the world's most ancient breed of sheep, and one of the toughest too!

Originating in Spain, Merino sheep grow well in arid conditions and are now mainly found in Australia, South Africa and parts of New Zealand. The Merino's fleece is built for extremes in weather. It's breathable during hot Summers to stop the sheep from overheating yet is also very insulating during the colder Winter months. But best of all it is extremely soft and lightweight.

Lots of great reasons why we love it so much but there's more......


It is simply soooo soft and luxurious and is an absolute delight to work with. It's got that real 'cuddle factor' that's for sure.


Merino Wool is 'Stain Resistant'

Thanks to the thin wax coating on Merino Wool, items made from Merino are naturally water repellent. This prevents spills from being absorbed and allows liquids to be wiped away quickly before they stain.


Merino Wool is 'Water Resistant'

While Merino Wool is capable of absorbing up to a third of its weight in moisture, the surface of each Merino fibre also has a protective waxy coating that naturally repels liquids.


Merino Wool is naturally 'Odour Resistant'.

This may sound too good to be true but this is because Merino has a far greater capacity than other fibres to manage moisture and the chemical structure of the fibre is naturally antibacterial.


Merino Wool is 'Flame Retardant'.

Yes that's right Merino Wool is flame resistant and self-extinguishing. Merino Wool has the highest natural fire resistance of all commonly encountered textile fibres.


Merino Wool is naturally 'Strong, Durable & Elastic'

Remarkably, even though Merino Wool is very fine and soft, it is also incredibly strong. In fact Merino Wool fibres can bend over 20,000 times before breaking. That's 17,000 times more than cotton and 18,000 times more than silk.

And.... it's elastic too! Amazingly when seen through a microscope, Merino fibres look like super fine coiled springs, meaning they return to their original state when pressure is released. Because of this Merino will constantly bend, flex and stretch but will then return to its natural shape again.


Merino Wool is 'Itch Free'.

Normal sheep's wool is infamous for being an itchy fabric. However, it's a very different story with Merino Wool.

The main reason that merino wool doesn't feel as itchy as normal wool is the main reason for their silky soft feel too. Merino Wool fibres are extra fine when compared to normal wool fibres. Larger, broader, fibres are stiffer and don't bend as easily, which results in a prickly feeling when pressed against the skin, causing the sensation of itchiness.


Merino Wool is 'Temperature Regulating'.

Merino Wool is smart. What I mean by that is that Merino Wool is an active fibre that reacts to the changes in body temperature. So it'll keep you and your children at a body optimal temperature. Warm when it's cold and cool when it's hot and very comfortable at the same time.

I won't go into the science bit of how this all works exactly but let's just say that Mother Nature has provided the wonderful Merino sheep with a perfect solution to remaining comfortable all year round, something which we can all benefit from.

This is why Merino Wool is a firm favourite, from the youngest baby to the oldest members of the family alike.


Merino Wool is 'Hypoallergenic'.

Merino Wool is a great choice for anyone with asthma and allergies.

Dust mites are the primary cause of allergy and asthma. Nobody likes dust mites but happily dust mites don't like Merino Wool.


Merino Wool 'Felts and Dyes' beautifully.

After knitting up each item from giant unspun Merino Wool together with my various lengths of giant knitting needles, I process each piece in order to part felt the fibres to make all items long lasting and as durable as possible. A process which is very time consuming and a real labour of love but in my opinion well worth the wait. Also a process which hopefully sets Dunnknit Designs apart from other makers who often simply knit up the chunky unspun wool. (Unspun Merino Wool is unusable in this state as it is delicate and will shed like crazy) However, Chunky unspun Merino reacts beautifully to being processed. A process which has taken me a long time to perfect as each weight of wool and colour reacts differently to treatment so I'm not giving any secrets away here!

All in all this then results in the most amazing, part felted yet super soft, practical and long lasting chunky knits which are all available in a variety of colour choices and designs. Simply beautiful!

So there you have it! A little long winded you may think but hopefully from reading this blog you might have learnt a few interesting facts about Merino Wool and what you're buying into at Dunnknit Designs, facts that maybe you didn't know before.

Merino Wool really is a joy to work with and is certainly one of life's treasures that we can all enjoy and treasure for years to come!

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