In such chilly times, wool is by far the best fibre to call on to keep yourself warm. It is 100% natural, renewable and biodegradable. As long as there is fresh grass for grazing, sheep will grow a new fleece each year. And each year this provides work for a long chain of people from farmers to shearers to wool processors and of course, dyers, knitters and weavers!
As stated by the Campaign for Wool 'wool has been appreciated since the Stone Age as one of the most effective forms of all-weather protection known to man, and science is yet to produce a fibre which matches its unique properties.'
Wool is a 'hygroscopic' fibre. Because the fibres are crimped, when they are tightly packed together they form millions of pockets of air. As the humidity of the surrounding air then rises and falls, the fibre absorbs and releases water vapour accordingly. Heat is generated and retained during the absorption phase, which makes wool an effortless insulator.
Oil based synthetics have come nowhere near providing the same quality of sustainable insulation or longevity to humans. And when synthetics come to the end of their life, they do not degrade as wool does. Wool decomposes quickly in soil and releases nutrients back into the ground, making it a truly sustainable and on the whole, an environmentally responsible choice.
As a weaver, I have a huge fondness for wool (can you tell?!). And first of all I am so pleased to be able to work with local wool - from just less than 10 miles away - from Fernhill Farm. I also combine New Lanark wool, which comes from Scotland and is processed on a UNESCO World Heritage site using hydroelectric power, as well as Donegal Tweed for it's softness and vibrancy of colour. I will share a closer look at my sourcing in following blogs...to be continued!
I for one, will be trying to quell my heating bill (what I fear will be huge in the no gas area where I live!) during this lockdown winter by wearing as much wool as possible! Today, I am sporting a thick woollen skirt that I chanced upon in a charity shop (an old St.Michael's classic!), an Icelandic cardigan in Lopi wool, passed on by a friend of mine and some beautiful handknitted socks in undyed wool, that I was given on a trip to Finland. When I pop out for a walk later, I'll definitely be wrapped in a scarf from The Handloom Room too!
Fun woolly fact - a wool fibre can be bent 20,000 times before breaking, whereas cotton breaks after 3,000 bends!