Everyone knows what sheep's wool is, but what is wool as a material? Wool is an animal fiber. Wool is protein, the same substance as human nails and hair.
As a material for use in clothing, wool is popular because it is warm, flexible, soft, not static, dirt comes off easily, it doesn't ignite easily and extinguishes itself, and it doesn't wrinkle easily. If it does, wool straightens out when aired outside and in moist air.
Wool's color is determined by melanin pigment. The most valuable technologically is white wool, which is suitable for dyeing.
Wool fiber is measured in microns. The coarsest wool fibers are up to 40 microns, making wool itchy. The finest wool that I tried myself is 16 microns. The finer the fiber, the less itchy it is to the skin.
Merino sheep are mainly raised in Australia and New Zealand, but they are also in Finland. Merino wool fibers are longer and thinner than thicker sheep's wool. This allows for the manufacture of thinner felt fabric.
Wool products' best features are warmth and moisture absorption ability. For example, a wool sock keeps the foot warm when outdoors in ski boots or boots. The air layer of felt fabric makes wool a good insulator.
Sheep's wool also has healing properties due to its lanolin content.
The substance activates at 35-37 degrees Celsius and, when penetrating through the skin, has a positive effect on muscles and joints, stimulating blood circulation. Wool products are intended for people with sciatica, osteochondrosis, and high blood pressure.
Why does wool felt?
It's all due to its structure! Normal sheep's wool looks roughly like human hair.
Natural wool fibers have a felting characteristic. As a result of mechanical action at the right temperature, wet wool fibers can intertwine. This is due to the fibers' cellular structure and their flexibility. The result of the felting process is felt. Speed up the felting by using warm soapy water, where the fibers swell quickly. Additionally, the surface of the fiber layer being laid becomes slippery, which significantly facilitates felting.
The longer the felting lasts, the more the wool shrinks, i.e., it condenses. The felt is ready when it is dense to the touch, and fibers are impossible to distinguish from it, as they are connected to each other. If the felt is not dense enough, it pills and loses its shape. The density and thickness of the felt vary according to the product's needs.
Due to wool's unique structure, it breathes, with special air cavities between its fibers through which air circulates. This helps remove excess heat and moisture, creating a comfortable microclimate.
But how to felt and what kind of wool, I'll explain more in my online courses.