Merino wool why so special

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
samsbike
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Merino wool why so special

Postby samsbike » 1 Feb 2014, 2:26pm

why is merino so special for sportwear? Why isnt the equivalent cashmere or plain old wool as effective?

beardy
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby beardy » 1 Feb 2014, 3:03pm

Here is some advertising

http://uk.icebreaker.com/Why-Icebreaker ... en,pg.html

In the advert they only compare it to ordinary wool rather than lambswool, I think lambswool would match the Merino in what they claim but I am not sure if it is as rugged.
My personal opinion is that it is probably that the name "Merino" is the one that people think of, recommend and ask for, so that is what they now prefer to manufacture with. Not that I would nominate any other wool as being better than Merino.

I have worn lambswool and alpaca before Merino was the "In thing" but I was considered a bit of a weirdo for doing so until Merino became fashionable.

The weave on the Icebreaker is quite tight and the wind doesnt cut through it in the same way as it would a nice Marks and Spencer or Burberry lambswool jumper. So it is better to wear than them on its own, little difference underneath other layers.

I havent found the Merino to be any more stink resistant than other wools, they are all pretty good that way.

Rather topically the soldiers were sent to the trenches a hundred years ago wearing wool, I wonder if any modern material combination would have been better and doubt it.

thirdcrank
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby thirdcrank » 1 Feb 2014, 3:50pm

Wool has played a significant part in my family's history and my dear old Dad used to say that if there was anything better, God would have clothed sheep in it. Be that as it may be, IMO there are plenty of modern fabrics better suited to the needs of cyclists.

In answer to the question posed by the OP, some time ago I had a chat with one of the people in Chevin Cycles and he told me that before going into the bike trade, he had been involved in the manufacture of wool textiles in a scientific role (Bradford University used to have an entire department dedicated to colour chemistry - the dyeing of textiles.) He explained to me - IIRC - that with the collapse of the wool textile industry, they'd risked being stuck with an awful lot of wool Down Under and had sought new uses: modern "technical" types of wool yarns were the result and merino is one. He did explain how the modern process gave it the anti-pong characteristic.

freebooter
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby freebooter » 1 Feb 2014, 9:59pm

I think it is just the diameter of the fibres that make Merino special. Above a certain diameter the wool will produce fabric that itches, thinner and it doesn't.

edocaster
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby edocaster » 1 Feb 2014, 11:09pm

It's basically the stink resistance. It's quite flexible in temperature, but tends to warm for its weight. Other than that, I'm not sure there are any real advantages compared to normal wool except what has been mentioned above. Plus most other wool garments would get a bit heavy, especially when sodden.

I have 2 merino base layers and a thin, non-cycling, woolly jumper. They all work fine.

eileithyia
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby eileithyia » 2 Feb 2014, 7:28am

freebooter wrote:I think it is just the diameter of the fibres that make Merino special. Above a certain diameter the wool will produce fabric that itches, thinner and it doesn't.


:?: Would someone explain that to the Merino vest I have please :lol:
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

ambodach
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby ambodach » 2 Feb 2014, 11:31am

My understanding is that the length of the staple is more important than the diameter.ie the length of the wool from the sheep before spinning. This gives a better quality yarn with less " itchy " ends after knitting and also a softer feel. This all adds to cost of course since there is less of this quality wool.

Grumbleweed
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby Grumbleweed » 2 Feb 2014, 6:21pm

It dries very quickly and wicks sweat away from the body with ease, popular in Europe before it was as ever taken up here.

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simonineaston
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby simonineaston » 2 Feb 2014, 7:20pm

marketing... try Bam instead! :shock:
see wot Johnny Dawes sez... 1:02
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xgJm0TQ63Q
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

LollyKat
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby LollyKat » 2 Feb 2014, 11:38pm

samsbike wrote:why is merino so special for sportwear? Why isnt the equivalent cashmere or plain old wool as effective?

The fibres of merino fleece are particularly fine, and also have a very close crimp. This gives a very good warmth to weight ratio and also makes it soft enough to wear next to the skin. I should think that cashmere would be as effective but would be very expensive.

'Plain old wool' - there are lots of different grades, which depend on the breed of sheep, the age, conditions in which it has grown. Sheep reared primarily for meat have coarser fleeces than those on a poorer diet. Any individual fleece has different qualities of fibre, the finest coming from the underside of the neck. For the very softest yarn the fleece should be plucked, not shorn, so that there are no cut (i.e. sharp) ends. In the primitive breeds the fleece stops growing for a few days, creating a natural 'break' or weak spot in the fibre, so that the sheep can shed the fleece by rubbing against rocks or bushes. However it makes more sense for the farmer to be able to shear all his sheep in one spot and at one time, so the break has been bred out of most breeds.

Of the indigenous UK breeds the Shetland produces the finest fibre. The yarn for the very fine wedding ring shawls was spun from fleece plucked from the neck of young, free-range local sheep. Today Shetland pullovers can be quite hairy (industrial preparation of the wool before spinning doesn't help), but the best parts of a good fleece, prepared and spun by hand, knit up into a garment as soft as silk.

My spinning wheel is sitting in the corner behind me.... :D

Brucey
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby Brucey » 2 Feb 2014, 11:51pm

I saw a nice couple on TV who had made some charming sweaters from 'wool' harvested from.....

.... their pet dogs.... :shock:

Wouldn't be my first choice... but who knows, it might have been OK.

I have always thought that if wool shrinks in a warm/hot wash, why not 'preshrink' woollen items? Would this not make for a more practical garment? Or does it shrink and then shrink again each time it gets hot once more?

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ayesha
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby Ayesha » 3 Feb 2014, 6:53am

Because the raw material is made by an animal that has been around for a lot longer than the human being, and knows a lot more about weather extremities.

LollyKat
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby LollyKat » 3 Feb 2014, 10:33am

Brucey wrote:I saw a nice couple on TV who had made some charming sweaters from 'wool' harvested from.....

.... their pet dogs.... :shock:

Wouldn't be my first choice... but who knows, it might have been OK.

I have always thought that if wool shrinks in a warm/hot wash, why not 'preshrink' woollen items? Would this not make for a more practical garment? Or does it shrink and then shrink again each time it gets hot once more?

I was once given a some dog combings to try. It spun into a beautifully soft yarn, with a lovely colour and lustre. However I could never get rid of the slightly doggy smell, and didn't get any more.

What shrinks wool when washing is changing temperatures and agitation. The best way to wash is in cold or handhot water, moving VERY gently, then rinsing just as gently in water of the same temperature. Roll up in a towel to remove excess moisture and dry flat, pulling to shape first. Shetlanders use 'woolly boards' , an adjustable wooden frame, to dry jumpers on to stop them shrinking:

Image
(not my photo - I can't knit as well as that!)

Commercial wool is preshrunk but still needs the careful washing I've just described. 'Superwash' wool that can go in the machine is treated with resins that coat the fibres and stops the tendency to matt together.

I preshrink my handspun yarn by soaking it in hot water, then plunging it into cold. In the old days knitwear was often made oversize, then deliberately shrunk and felted to make it more windproof.

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feefee8
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby feefee8 » 3 Feb 2014, 11:51am

And you know how they stop tweed from shrinking!

eeffttees
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Re: Merino wool why so special

Postby eeffttees » 13 Apr 2018, 9:11pm

chartreuse wool Vs merino wool ..which one is special