Wool 101: The Science Behind Your Natural Performance Fibres

Wool 101: The Science Behind Your Natural Performance Fibres

When it comes to fabric options, wool is a classic. Wool clothing has a wide range of benefits, from thermoregulation and warmth to comfort and softness. Not all wool is made the same or is made into the same products. Some wool comes from different animals, has different harvesting and manufacturing processes, and thus offers different benefits for clothing. 

This guide takes a closer look at everything you need to know about wool. From the types of wool, characteristics of wool to look for, and more, discover the science behind your fabrics below. 

Nine Types of Wool To Know

Wool has been around for centuries. First used in 10,000 B.C Asia, wool was a choice material for clothing and textiles alike. The increase in sheep populations made the wool industry skyrocket. 

Nomadic herds could move with their sheep across the globe and help spread the love for wool. Wool spread to other cultures throughout history, eventually leading to wool plantations. In addition to using sheep for wool, people now used goats, alpacas, and camels. 

There are nine main types of wool that are prominent in today’s fabric and textile industry. Understanding the different types of wool is essential to understanding which wool is best for you. While wool altogether offers benefits for clothing, the different kinds of wool offer distinct qualities for you to enjoy.  

1. Alpaca Wool

Alpacas are from Peru and Bolivia. These animals provide a versatile fabric that’s heavier than other types of wool while still offering many benefits. Alpaca wool is most commonly used for coats, blankets, outerwear, bedspreads, and suiting. This type of wool is also soft, warm, and durable. 

Two main types of Alpacas dominate the wool industry. These are Huacaya alpacas and Suri alpacas. Huacaya wool is thicker, while Suri wool is silkier, lighter, and used in woven clothing. 

2. Camel Hair Wool

First introduced in the United States in the 1920s, this material is a popular type of wool. Made from camel hair, this type of wool is typically made by combining camel hair fibers with other types of wool to make it softer and more affordable. 

Camel hair is characterized by its natural golden brown color. For those looking for an expensive wool coat or a luxurious leather look, this is an excellent material.

Camel hair can be used to make coats, clothing, carpets, upholstery, and rougher blankets. 

3. Lambswool

Lambswool is sheared from sheep that are only a few months old. This type of wool is also known as virgin wool as it’s taken from lambs.

This type of wool is very rare and expensive to buy, as sheep can only produce lambswool once in their lifetime. For many, it’s worth the price. Lambswool is smooth, soft, hypoallergenic, and wrinkle-resistant. 

4. Cashmere Wool

You’ve likely heard the term cashmere used to describe textiles or fashion before. Cashmere wool is one of the most luxurious and expensive types of fabric in the world. With extremely fine fibers that resemble silk, this wool is made from two types of goats as cashmere goats and pashmina goats.

This natural fiber is delicate, insulating, and lighter than some sheep’s wool. Many manufacturers blend cashmere wool with other types of wool to give it extra weight and strength. Note that cashmere wool is very expensive and doesn’t offer the durability necessary for an active lifestyle.  

5. Mohair Wool

Derived from the coat of the angora goat comes another durable type of wool. Mohair wool is lightweight, lustrous, and thick.

Mohair is a type of wool that tends to be itchy and uncomfortable on the skin but strong and durable for outer layers. It’s made of strong fibers that are frizzy. Mohair wool is generally used for outer layers, scarves, sweaters, shoes, and suits. 

6. Angora Wool

The angora rabbit is native to Ankara, Turkey (formerly known as Angora, Turkey). This rabbit is one of the oldest types of wooly rabbits and has found its way to the United States and England. There are various types of Angora rabbits, but each type can be used for wool. 

Angora wool is known for its soft, fluffy qualities as opposed to the hard, rough qualities of some types of wool. This type of wool is also the most effective at wicking away moisture than any other type of natural fabric. 

While it’s soft and water-resistant, angora wool is very weak. In order to use it for clothing, manufacturers have to weave it together with other fibers to make it stronger. It’s also in shorter supply and much harder to cultivate. Angora wool tends to be one of the more expensive types of wool available. 

7. Melton Wool

If you’re looking for the toughest, warmest wool available, melton is an excellent option. The fibers of melton wool are woven into what’s known as a twill weave. This versatile fabric weave involves weaving in diagonal lines for extra strength. You’ll find twill weaving in jeans, denim, canvas bags, chinos, furniture covers, and more. 

This type of wool is wind and water-resistant for overall weatherproof coverage. This makes it the perfect material for outerwear, heavy blankets, and coverings. Melton wool isn’t the most ideal for clothing as it can be uncomfortable. 

8. Shetland Wool

The Shetland sheep is native to Scotland’s Shetland Islands. This is where we get Shetland wool. Shetland wool is durable, lightweight, and warm. These qualities make it perfect for knitting blankets, scarves, and other clothing. 

9. Merino Wool

The final type of wool is known as merino wool. This type of wool is sheared from the Merino sheep that are native to Spain. Throughout human evolution, these sheep have been used for wool to make clothing and blankets. Merino wool offers many qualities that make it the best wool for clothing.

Here’s the critical information:

Nature’s Finest Performance Fabric: Why We Love Merino Wool

Merino wool, otherwise known as nature’s finest performance fabric, is a high-quality, widely accessible material. Let’s break down some of the most significant characteristics of merino wool and why we love it.

  • Sustainability

  • Temperature regulated: Merino wool is a thermoregulator, which means it helps you stay both warm and cool, regulating the perfect temperature. 

  • Light-weight: Merino wool is the perfect weight for clothing and apparel. It’s not thin enough to break, but it’s thick enough to maintain a durable structure. 

  • Odor-resistance: one characteristic that makes merino wool the best wool for athletic wear is its ability to resist odor. Its self-cleaning properties help it stay clean and smelling good.

  • Water-resistant

  • Soft, but never itchy

Wool vs. Other Fabrics

Each type of wool has distinct characteristics that make it unique. However, wool as a category has some differences when compared to other kinds of fabrics. 

First, wool is naturally water-resistant. Its structure allows it to repel water quickly and easily. This makes it an excellent material for athletic wear as it helps wick away moisture and sweat. 

While repelling water, wool can also absorb water in large amounts before feeling wet. This helps keep you dry even in moist conditions. 

Because wool is efficient at absorbing water, it’s also able to clean itself. This also gives wool its odor resistance. Wool is also flame retardant and difficult to ignite. 

Our Collection of Merino Wool Activewear 

Merino wool is our secret to making our Merino Active Jersey collection so great. From the iconic Convoy Tee to a classic Long Sleeve Henley, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy wool in your closet. 

With special fabric technology, insulating air pockets to keep your temperature regulated, and a chemical structure to help lock away unwanted odor, you can wear this collection to the gym, on your run, or to the office.  


THE HISTORY OF WOOL Fact Sheet | American Wool 

English Angora Rabbit - Complete Guide & Top Facts | Animal Center 

Facts About Alpacas | Live Science

Previous Article Next Article