Wool is a material with multiple uses, and it is obtained from different animals such as goats, camels, rabbits, and sheep. Wool is used in the manufacture of various products, from clothing to carpeting, and its insulating qualities make it an ideal fabric for colder climates. There are several different characteristics to wool that help determine its quality, and these characteristics are affected by the diet and stress levels of the animals used to accumulate the wool. Of all the animals, sheep supply larger amounts of wool, and different types and ages of sheep produce different qualities of wool.
Wool is neither hair nor is it fur, but rather a unique fibre that grows in clusters and has elastic properties. In order to understand the characteristics that make up quality wool, consumers need to be aware of the different types of wools available in the market. Understanding the elements that determine the quality of wool is also helpful. Although wool is available in regular fabric shops, one may utilise an online retailer such as eBay to find and purchase high-quality wool products.
Determining Wool Quality
The quality of wool is determined by the characteristics that make up the wool. These elements are weighted differently when it comes to determining the price and actual quality of wool, but each characteristic is important in setting wool apart from other types of materials that are used in similar fashion to wool.
Microns are the manner in which wool fibre diameter is determined. The finer and softer the wool, the lower the micron measurement. The fibre diameter of the wool is an important factor that determines the actual value of wool. Wool that has a diameter of less than 25 microns is considered to be fine enough for garments, while wool that is thicker than 25 microns is used for coats, sweaters, rugs, blankets, and other similar items. Thicker wool has a more coarse feel to it and is usually more durable. Thicker wool is not as prone to pilling, which occurs when wool bundles up into little fibre balls.
Less than 15.5
Clothing close to the skin; undergarments
15.6 - 18.5
Clothing close to the skin; Quality T-shirts and fine socks
18.6 - 20
Athletic clothing; fine sweaters
20.1 - 23
Athletic clothing; fine slacks; dress clothing
Greater than 23
Dress clothing; soft wool sweaters and shirts
21 - 26
27 - 31
Wool clothing and outerwear
32 - 35
23 - 34
Outerwear and clothing insulation
Greater than 36
Rugs; heavy coats; thick sweaters; blankets
35 - 45
Rugs and carpet
The micron measurement is based on the average diameter of the fibres of a sample section shorn from the sheep. Laser scan tools are used to measure and certify the micron measurement of wool prior to sale.
Another characteristic that is used to determine the quality of wool is its colour. While not as important in the value classification as fibre diameter, the colour quality of wool helps determine the type of dye the wool can accept. Wool that is white or off-white in colour is able to accept a wider variety of dye colours that are used in making various fabrics, including the lighter shades of dye. Therefore, the lighter the wool colour, the more valuable it is. Stains in wool are another factor that is used to determine value. Stains affect the overall colour of the wool, but many stains can be washed out in the production process. Stains that cannot be removed from the wool can devalue it considerably.
The staple strength of wool is what determines its ability to withstand the rigours of the production process, which includes scouring and spinning. The higher the staple strength of wool, the less waste it produces during the process. Wools that have less strength may be combined with other materials to create fabrics of lesser value.
Wool crimp is the measurement of the number of bends in wool fibre along the actual length of that fibre. Wools that have a high number of crimps have a larger percentage of bends in each fibre, which translates into finer wool that has a larger spinning capacity. Larger spinning capacity means the wool can be stretched further and require less wool to produce the same amount of material as wool with a lesser amount of crimping. Wools with higher crimping have smaller-diameter fibres and are used in finer materials and garments.
Types of High-Quality Wool
While sheep are the main source of the wool that is used in the majority of products, there are other animals that produce wools that are considered high quality and used in the production of high-end clothing. Wool features excellent insulation properties even when wet, which makes it a great fabric for outerwear. Finer quality wool features a soft feel against the skin and is durable and easy to work with. Wool is also flame retardant, making it one of the safer materials to be used in items such as rugs and carpets.
Merino wool comes from merino sheep that are raised mainly in the mountainous regions of New Zealand and Australia, although other smaller populations exist around the world. Merino wool is a higher quality of sheep wool because of its soft feel and superior appearance. Merino wool is lightweight and offers considerable warmth, and its near-white appearance allows it to easily accept any type of dye. Merino wool is used in frequently used in some of the more expensive articles of clothing such as men's suits. Its combination of light weight and insulating capability make it ideal for high fashion clothing in cooler climates.
Hogget wool comes from young merino lambs from 9 to 18 months old. Hogget wool is amongst the finer and softer wools available and therefore commands higher prices.
Angora wool is one of the softer types of wool available and comes from the angora rabbit. The fibres of angora wool are hollow and have a floating feel to them. This gives angora higher insulating properties compared to other types of wool. The drawback to angora is that the fibres are fragile and cannot be woven into fabrics the way other wools are. Angora is more often blended with other wools to enhance their softness and insulating properties.
Cashmere is taken from the Kashmir goat in Asia. Cashmere is very soft wool that grows underneath the coarser hair of the goat, and it is collected by combing through the goat's hair rather than shearing. Cashmere is often used in clothing that touches the skin because of its inherent softness.
Camel hair is also soft wool that is frequently kept in its natural yellowish colour because of its attractive nature. Camel hair wool is durable and lightweight, and it can accept certain dye colours. The wool is frequently used in coats and jackets because of its insulating qualities. Camel hair is not shorn from the camel, but is gathered when the animals moult and shed the wool.
Buying High-Quality Wool on eBay
One of the more difficult aspects of shopping is searching for and finding the exact items that you are looking for without having to visit different shops across town. The powerful search tools and shopping process on eBay allows you to not only easily find high-quality wool products that you may be looking for, but you can also quickly compare listings to find the better deals available.
To begin a search, simply navigate to the eBay home page, and enter a relevant term, such as "high quality wool", into the search box. A listing of available products is then displayed that you can browse through until you find the exact product you are looking for. If the list is too long, you can select from various subcategories that can refine the results of your search and narrow the amount of listings shown. If you already know what you are looking for, then you can enter that specific keyword directly into the search box, and only listings that relate to that keyword are displayed. Be sure to verify the background of the seller before making a purchase on eBay.
Wool is considered to be a highly valuable fabric because of its many beneficial attributes. It has excellent insulating properties that make it an ideal fabric for cold weather wear. Wool can absorb up to one third of its own weight in moisture before it begins to feel wet, and it maintains its insulating capabilities even when wet. This makes wool a frequently used material in outdoor clothing. The higher quality wools are popular because of their softness and lightweight feel while still delivering breathability and insulation. Wool is also naturally resistant to bacteria, so it takes a great deal longer for wool to absorb odours than other fabrics.
When individuals are in the market for high-quality wool clothing, finding great deals in the market is important, as quality wool can be an expensive fabric to purchase. One of the retailers where this can be accomplished is the online site of eBay. On this website, a shopper can look for and compare various deals for high-quality wool before making secure transactions.