Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about lambswool:
- 1. What is wool?
- 2. What is lambswool?
- 3. What is the difference between wool and lambswool?
- 4. What is the difference between lambswool and merino wool?
- 5. Is lambswool better than merino wool?
- 6. Is lambswool warmer than merino?
- 7. Is lambswool cruel?
- 8. Is lambswool itchy?
- 9. How do I make lambswool less itchy?
- 10. How to make lambswool soft?
- 11. Does lambswool keep you warm?
- 12. Can you wash lambswool?
- 13. How to clean or wash lambswool (Foxology Product Care)
- 14. Can you wash lambswool in a washing machine? (Foxology Product Care)
- 15. Does lambswool shrink?
- 16. Is lambswool waterproof?
1. What is wool?
Wool is a textile fibre and is the hair taken from sheep, goats, rabbits and camelids such as alpaca.
Wool is measured in microns, which is the measurement of the diameter of the follicle (through a microscope). Generally, the smaller the micron count, the softer and more expensive the wool. To give you a point for comparison, human hair varies from 40-90 microns, merino wool 10-21.5 and lambswool usually no more than 25 microns, depending on the age and health (or nutrition) of the sheep.
2. What is lambswool?
Lambswool is simply wool sheared from lambs. Young sheep’s wool is super soft and fine which is fabulous for clothing and home items. The older the sheep the courser the fibre becomes and is scratchier and itchier than lambswool, which is generally softer and less likely to cause skin irritation. This fibre is a multi-purpose natural fibre and is favoured for clothing and products that need to be soft against the skin.
3. What is the difference between wool and lambswool?
Lambswool is the wool fibre taken from the first shearing of the animal, which is usually at around seven months old. This fibre is extremely fine and soft and needs little processing.
4. What is the difference between lambswool and merino wool?
Merino is a specific breed of sheep, so the wool fibre taken from young merinos is called merino wool. Lambswool can come from any species of sheep, but merino wool is only sheared from a merino sheep.
The diameter of the follicle (through a microscope) is measured and in general, the smaller the micron count, the softer and more expensive the wool. As an example, human hair varies from 40-90 microns.
Merino wool fibres are usually no longer than 50mm long and between 15-21.5 micron count, making them extremely fine and super soft. Regular lambswool can come from any young sheep, meaning the length and micron count can be very varied. Sometimes you will find the superfine follicles on merino can measure between 10-18.5 microns, making it as soft as cashmere. This is a very versatile fibre, used in a variety of products and very little of the fibre is wasted.
Lambswool is produced in much smaller numbers, as it is the first shearing from the sheep. This makes it more expensive than a lot of other wools on the market. Merino wool, however, comes from specifically Merino sheep and they produce wool throughout their lives. This, therefore, makes the wool less exclusive, but you know that a Merino wool product is made from Merino quality.
Merino wool has a beautiful drape and can be used almost like a woven fabric. As it is so soft and non-scratchy it works really well for garments worn next to the skin such as base-layers and sportswear. It is also used in sleepwear.
Lambswool, which although can be really soft, it is used more often for outerwear, jumpers and homewares such as blankets.
While both lambswool and merino are very soft, the properties of the fibres make them slightly more suitable for different products and uses.
5. Is lambswool better than merino wool?
The choice between the 2 fibres depends on the end-use of the product. Lambswool is generally warmer than merino and the softness of the fibres allow for spinning a beautiful and incredibly high-quality yarn. The fibre also has a lot more elasticity than older sheep wool, enabling it to keep its shape better. It is, however, courser than merino and tends to be a little itchier.
Merino comes in a variety of different micron counts, meaning it can be knitted or woven into a variety of product types, from lightweight dress socks to base layers, sportswear, workwear and safety wear. It is also incredibly hard-wearing.
Merino is known for its breathability properties, which allows for more effective core temperature regulation. This means you can layer the garments depending on the weather conditions. I regularly run in a merino baselayer in the autumn/winter months and layer up for hiking in colder conditions.
Lanolin (a wax or grease) is present in all sheep's wool and has important natural antibacterial properties, useful for preventing body odours.
So wool is great for not holding odour! The base layers are the perfect under layer/top for skiing! You can pack them to wear under your regular ski wear and they only need to be hung up to air between each daily use.
6. Is lambswool warmer than merino?
Lambswool is generally warmer than merino. Wool is a great insulator, being used to make winter clothing and with lambswool, you get the added softness.
Crimp is an important feature of wool fibres. It is the natural waviness of the fibre, giving it elasticity and making it soft and springy to touch. It also adds bulk and traps a large volume of air between the fibres, giving it good insulation properties. In general, the more crimp there is, the smaller is the diameter of the fibre, ie the lower the micron count. Finer wool with more crimp such as merino create fabrics that drape better than coarser wool with little crimp. Merino has up to 100 crimps per inch, more than either cashmere or lambswool.
7. Is lambswool cruel?
Lambswool is simply wool sheared from lambs.
Our products are made of wool from sheep that are non-mulesed (Mulesing is the removal of strips of skin around the breech of a sheep, to prevent the parasitic infection flystrike. It is a controversial procedure as extremely painful to the animal)
8. Is lambswool itchy?
Young sheep (lamb), provide a softer, finer wool fibre. Lambswool is a multi-purpose general fibre that is less likely to cause skin irritation, unlike sheep’s wool, which is known for causing potential itchiness.
9. How do I make lambswool less itchy?
Fine fibres bend easily, and so it touches you less, making it less itchy. There are natural remedies that can make wool less itchy, such as soaking the wool product in cold water and a few tablespoons of white vinegar. After draining, massage the product with a good quality (natural) hair conditioner, avoiding stretching the fabrics. Leave the conditioner for around thirty minutes, then rinse through with cold water. Dry flat on a towel.
10. How to make lambswool soft?
The most common way to soften wool is with vinegar. If machine washing, you can add two cups of distilled vinegar in your rinse cycle. Or if washed by hand, let it soak for fifteen minutes to infuse the fibres.
11. Does lambswool keep you warm?
Lambswool is renowned for its warmth, flexibility and strength.
Especially useful in extreme sports. Lambswool has natural isolating properties to help keep you warm.
12. Can you wash lambswool?
It is always best to check the manufacturer’s care instructions of the product and if in doubt, hand wash. Over time, machine washed lambswool, can lose its soft appeal.
13. How to clean or wash lambswool (Foxology Product Care)
Wool does not hold odour, so should not need regular washing like synthetics. You can simply hang and air your garments/products to freshen. If however, you do need to wash, then always check the manufacturer’s care instructions and if in doubt, wash by hand.
Hand wash instructions:
- Fill a basin with water at around 30°, ensure there is enough room for the garment to be moved around.
- Add some PH neutral soap and stir carefully.
- Gently squeeze the garment and push it down to be in deep water.
- With both hands, lift it out of the water. Press some water out of the garment, gently.
- Drain the water from the basin, clear any soap and fill it again with the same temperature as before.
- Put the garment into the fresh water and gently squeeze the soap. Lift the garment out of the water and repeat the same steps until no soap is left.
- Spread the garment into a clean towel and put a towel on top.
- Lay the garment out to dry in a flat surface.
14. Can you wash lambswool in a washing machine? (Foxology Product Care)
Always check the manufacturer’s care instructions.
Wool is a delicate natural fibre, and very absorbent, so it can be prone to shrinking. Many wool garments can be machine washed, but ensure you wash on the wool settings, cool water washed, or delicates settings.
Machine washed lambswool, even using the wool cycle, will begin to lose its softness. However, some lambswool is specially treated and can be safely machine washed.
15. Does lambswool shrink?
Most wool will shrink, so ensure you carefully read the care label on the garment or the manufacturer's recommendations, before washing your wool garments.
Heated water and agitation are what will shrink the wool product, so always treat your wool carefully.
16. Is lambswool waterproof?
One of the incredible properties of lambswool is that it is water-resistant. It can absorb up to 20% of its weight in water before it starts to soak through the garment. This hygroscopic quality allows it to absorb moisture away from the body.