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What Do You Mean by "Strong Wool"?

What Do You Mean by "Strong Wool"?

July 13, 2017

If you've been around the wool world for a while, none of this will be news to you. But if you're wondering what we mean by 'strong wool', read on!

 

Teenager-me and my bottle lamb Felicia, a medium wool (Blue Face Leicester/Clun cross) sheep.

 

There are many different kinds of sheep all over the globe who have been carefully bred for as long as man has been around; who adapt to their environment and serve specialty purposes.

 

For example, the breed that probably comes to mind when you think of soft wool is the Merino, a wrinkly sheep popular in New Zealand and Australia whose fleece is the standard in softness. It's popular for baby things and lacy, drapey things that don't require the garment to hold its shape. Another famous fine-wool breed is the Rambouillet. These type of sheep are usually found in desert habitats.

 

However, there is more to the story than softness!

 

Medium wool breeds such as Blue Faced Lester, Romney, Cheviot, Corriedale, and Jacob are great for dual purpose use and easier to work with. The yarn also tends to hold its shape better, and have more loft and body. It's a diverse group of sheep, with some breeds nearing the softness of fine wool breeds and others closer to strong wool breeds. It sacrifices nothing on warm and tends to be more durable and pills less than fine wool.

 

Briggs and Little yarn really is considered medium wool, but strong wool just sounds better: medium wool for medium people? See, there's no ring to that... ;)

 

 Beautiful, Strong wool Scottish Blackface

 

Lastly Strong wool breeds tend to have long staples, course fibers, and often kemp or hair mixed in. These sheep are incredibly tough and beautiful, and can thrive in regions where other animals can't. Their wool is not without use, in fact it's exceptionally warm and used in production of rugs and outerwear.

 

There is a scale, called a micron count, that scientifically ranks the softness of a wool by looking at the fibers under a microscope. I'd give you the breakdown of what's what, but personally once you start talking about numbers you lose me...haha!

 

Lastly, although I feel that there's more to life than superwash merino/nylon blends, I daily fight the tendency to become a wool snob. I like to experiment with all types of wools, from the softest to the toughest, and I just love how all of them have different purposes and features to play with: enough for a lifetime of fiber discovery!

 

P.S. (Even I have a few skeins of superwash merino/nylon sock yarn in my stash <3 )

 

 Mommy steals the kiddie pool to wash an exceptionally soft Scottish Blackface hoggett

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