What's the difference between soft and scratchy wool?

kids wearing tubes leggings Wool gets a bad rap sometimes. When most people think about wool clothing, they imagine itchy, scratchy sweaters and stiff pants. But wool clothing should be comfortable; the right kind of wool creates to cozy and soft clothes. Besides the wrong breed, unhealthy sheep, poor quality wool, and bad processing practices can ruin good wool.

At Ella’s Wool, our products use the highest quality merino and alpaca wool on the market. Merino wool comes from merino sheep, a breed which is world-renowned for providing the softest, highest quality fiber of any sheep.

Merino wool has a highly complex physical structure that evolved over millions of years to protect sheep from the weather. Merino wool is warm in cold weather, cool in hot weather, wicks moisture, stays warm when wet, and is very soft against the skin.

Well-made wool clothing is exceptionally durable and functional, and doesn’t harm the environment - you can even throw it into a compost pile when it wears out.

That’s why high quality wool clothing has been used for more than 10,000 years by fishermen, herders, farmers, hunters, parents and children all over the world.

Why is merino so soft? Well, even the thickest merino wool is only 24 microns thick – less than half the thickness of a single human hair. The softest merino in the world can be less than 12 microns thick - about 1/100th of a millimeter.

Even the most sensitive skin can appreciate that!

white long sleeves base layerwhite wool base layer bottomwhite base layer leggingswhite wool hat

Wool is also soft because of the natural crimps in the fiber that make sheep look “wavy”. These curls help trap air which increases the natural insulating properties of wool, but also makes wool fabrics feel soft against the skin.

Coarse, itchy wool has 1-2 crimps per inch of fiber, while high-quality merino wool has closer to 100.

The highest quality merino wool is naturally soft, but some modern wool garments are treated for softness. In this process, the wool is washed in an acidic bath that smoothes some of the natural roughness of the fiber surface. In some cases, the fibers are then coated in polymers. After these treatments, the wool is no longer itchy and can be washed without shrinking.

Here at Ella's Wool we like it natural and soft – only the best is good enough for our babies!

Check out our wool clothes here.

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