Merino wool is a natural fiber grown by Merino sheep. It’s thinner and softer than regular wool—making it easy to wear next to skin. And when you wear wool next to skin, a lot of benefits come with it. The demand for wool has declined since the mid-1940s with the advent of synthetic fibers. Most wool produced in the United States is sold as raw fleece wool. Wool producers use various marketing channels. Private or cooperative wool warehouses are the primary mechanisms, although wool pools within states are becoming more common.
In some cases, wool is pooled in local areas and sold through wool warehouses. The pooling process allows for the marketing of increased wool quantities, sorting by quality and lowering of transactions costs. Most wool is marketed through wool buyers directly to central markets or to mills. In the eastern United States, wool is typically marketed through wool warehouses or wool pools to compensate for limited production obtained from smaller flocks. Wool produced in the western United States is generally marketed through wool warehouses or wool cooperatives.
Merino is one of the oldest documented sheep breeds, originating in North Africa. The fiber is extremely fine, with a distinct crimp. The small diameter of the fiber (64’s or 21 micron) means that it is very soft, and is often used for garments worn next to the skin, like hats, scarves, and other items. The staple length is 2 1/2 – 4 inches. This fiber is top, so the fibers are generally parallel to one another. Merino is the gold standard for felting. It felts quickly and easily, forming a tight, smooth felt. Expect felt projects to shrink 30% to 50%, depending on the thickness. It is also excellent for nuno felting and for blending with other fibers that do not felt readily by themselves.
Wool has a variety of quality grades that are generally based on fiber diameter and fineness. Other quality factors include length, uniformity, strength, color and contaminants. Higher quality wool grades are used to produce apparel, but lower quality grades are used to produce blankets, carpet, felt and upholstery.
The value of wool is based on its suitability for specific end uses, as well as the fundamentals of the world wool market. Raw wool is usually purchased on the basis of grade. Grade denotes the average fiber diameter and length of individual fibers. The grade (or price) is reduced if the wool is dirty and contains a lot of vegetable matter or other contaminants.
- Soft. Merino wool proves to be delightfully soft due to its fineness. It ranges from 14.5 to 23.5 microns, while a human hair is 30 microns thick! Fine Merino wool fiber can bend much more than coarser wool fibers. High quality Merino wool fabric doesn’t require any softener or conditioner. It is 3 times softer than natural silk.
- Elastic. Merino wool fabrics let the body move freely thanks to their molecular structure. The fiber may be safely stretched from 25 to 30% of its natural length. It will regain its original shape after stretching up to 50% of length when wet! You’ll be surprised to know that Merino wool is 5 times more elastic than cotton.
- Absorbent. Known for its moisture-wicking qualities, Merino is also water-repellent. It soaks up to 30% of its weight still feeling dry because of the fiber scale structure. Wool is perfect for any climate type and weather conditions as it absorbs moisture from the humid environment and releases it to the drier atmosphere.
- Warm and Cool. As Merino wool fabrics have low heat conductivity, they feel like they have in-built climate control. Tiny scales on the fiber surface and the crimp in the fiber create ‘air pockets’ that keep you warm when it’s cold outside and cool when the weather is hot. A natural insulator, wool is worn by Bedouins in Sahara Desert and used in mattress-making for the same purpose – body temperature regulation.
- Hypoallergenic. It is well-known that Merino wool is beneficial for allergy and asthma sufferers. Recent medical research shows that fine Merino wool garments worn next to the skin are a natural remedy against eczema. They act as ‘second skin’ and stabilize the humidity level and the micro-climate of the skin surface. They reduce such symptoms as itch, skin redness and rush, especially in children and people with dermatological problems.
Merino Wool Price Per Pound
$13.72-$24.21 per lb.