What is Merino Wool? What’s merino wool or yarn made of?

Merino wool comes from merino sheep. It is much softer than regular wool, and is an excellent, natural alternative to synthetic fibres.

In case you’re new to the blog, I’m an avid crafter (check out my many free patterns!), and live on a farm with our many animals, including fiber sheep and fiber goats.

We pour so much tender loving care into these animals, and in return they gift us with beautiful fiber. 

​This fiber can be turned into so many beautiful things!

Today I’m going to talk about the wool produced by a specific breed of sheep — merino wool!

It’s a gorgeous, soft, and super fine wool, and I think you’ll soon understand just what makes it so special!

Above: a photo of me snuggling the first lamb of the year! A beautiful, healthy boy who will grow up to be a beautiful fiber sheep! (NOT a merino sheep)

Merino Sheep

Merino wool is produced by merino sheep — a breed that was first bred in the middle ages, around the 12th century.

Merino sheep are a breed of sheep that has very fine, and very soft wool.

They are more difficult to find for purchasing than other fiber sheep breeds, and more expensive to purchase.

As you can imagine, their wool is sold at a premium.

Just like it doesn’t hurt you to get a haircut — shearing does not hurt sheep.

It’s a highly necessary part in caring for sheep.

Shearing wool keeps sheep healthy, comfortable, and clean.

Thankfully, there’s no reason for the shorn wool to go to waste!

This natural material the sheep produce has many wonderful uses!

Benefits of Merino Wool

Merino wool has some wonderful benefits.

Wool, as a whole, is designed to help sheep maintain a healthy body temperature in both cold weather and warm weather. 

​Just as it does for sheep — wool will help keep you comfortable in all weather, too!

Sheep produce lanolin — a natural moisture vapor to help keep their fleece in good, healthy shape.

Once shorn, wool still has great moisture-wicking properties thanks to that lanolin the sheep produced.

While some people find traditional wool to be itchy, merino wool has no itch! 

It truly is the softest wool!

People with sensitive skin are usually quite pleased when they feel the gentleness of merino wool for the first time!

Merino Wool Yarn

There are few things as special than using merino wool yarn in your crochet or knitting project.

Merino wool fiber makes a beautifully soft yarn.

It’s lovely for any project, but especially for projects you might want a softer yarn for, such as baby clothes.

Despite its softness, merino wool still creates good, strong yarns to work with.

Many years ago, my knitting friend who had been knitting for decades suggested that I try using merino wool yarn.

“It has NO itch to it!” she stressed.

While merino wool can be pricey, this dear friend of mine loves to buy it on eBay.

On eBay, she’s able to find merino wool yarn at a great price, oftentimes from people who had the best intentions at starting a project, but never got started.

She usually finds enough skeins in the same color to complete whatever project she can dream up!

So — for those of you hesitant on the price, secondhand may be a good place to start!

Sure enough, it was love at first sight when I took my friend’s advice and purchased some merino wool!

It’s been one of my top fiber choices for yarn ever since!

My personal favorite brand of yarn (merino, and otherwise) is KnitPicks. I’ve always been very happy with both the quality and price of their yarns! 

Merino Wool Clothes 

You can also purchase premade clothing that’s been manufactured with merino wool.

I’ve noticed more and more merino wool clothing on the market — everything from a merino wool t-shirt to outdoor gear!

Clothing made from merino fibers helps regulate your temperature (just as it does the sheep!), wicks away moisture (read: wicks away sweat), and does a great job fighting odors. 

Merino clothing is a great alternative to clothing made from synthetic fabrics!

Things to be aware of: (beware!)

When looking at merino wool, there are some things to keep in mind.

Firstly, merino wool is often blended with other fibers. 

Often, merino wool is blended with synthetic fibers, or a lower quality wool.

This is is a way that manufactures can still advertise that their yarn or garment is made with “merino wool,” but it’s just that — only made with merino wool. 

Those “fillers” can sometimes be less than desirable!

Depending on what your merino wool is blended with, you may no longer have the “itch-free” feel that merino wool has on its own, in its purest form. 

However, it’s super easy to figure out if you’re buying something that’s made from totally merino wool or not.

Just be sure to look at the complete contents of the wool to make sure you are comfortable with whatever is in it!

(Not all blends are bad. I’ve found plenty of merino blend yarns that I love — merino blended with alpaca is one of my absolute favorite blends ever!)

Secondly, if you’re into merino wool for its natural fiber content, steer clear of superwash merino wool.

Superwash yarn is chemically treated yarn coated in plastic.

​When wool undergoes a superwash process, it leaves the wool (generally — be sure to read the care label!) safe to run through your washing machine.

While being able to throw your garments right into the washing machine is terribly convenient, it’s good to be aware of exactly what happens during the superwash process.

​First, the wool is treated with a chemical bath of chlorine, or gassed in chlorine gas. 

Then, the wool fibers are coated in plastic!

This leaves your wool being polluted with highly toxic chemicals, causes it to shed microplastics, and leaves it as a non-biodegradable product.

You’ll get zero judgement from me if this doesn’t bother you!

​But for my family, superwash is not an ideal fit.

Leave a comment with your questions!

​Now you can see just why I have such an affinity for merino wool!

What are your other questions about merino wool?

Please leave them down in the comments, and I will be happy to answer them for you!

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