There are many advantages to wearing wool compared to synthetic fibres. It’s warm, even when wet, many types of wool have water-repellant properties, and it’s long-wearing. It may come as a surprise to the uninitiated that there is more than one type of wool, and one of the most popular and prestigious is merino wool.
What is merino wool?
Merino wool comes from merino sheep, an historic breed that may have originated in Spain or Morocco. No one is really sure, but what we do know is that wool from these sheep is finer and softer than normal wool. This makes it nicer to wear next to the skin, and easier to layer for added warmth.
Merino wool benefits
Because it allows your skin to breathe, merino wool can be worn in both summer and winter. It helps transport the sweat away from your body when warm and insulates you when it’s cold. This is one of the reasons it is so perfect for making Aran sweaters, instead of the traditional Aran yarn. When you layer merino wool garments, each one works to let sweat escape, helping to keep you comfortable. Let’s be fair: even if the weather is freezing cold, if you are hill walking or something similar, you are going to be getting warm and you will sweat.
Another great benefit of merino wool is that absorbs odours caused by bacteria; it’s the bacteria acting on sweat that makes it smell. This is really useful when you’re on camping trips and don’t have much luggage space.
If that wasn’t enough, merino wool does not melt like synthetic fabrics do. In addition, it is biodegradable – although you’ll get many years of wear out of it before you need to worry about that.
Where do I find it?
There are plenty of stores that sell Aran sweaters made from merino wool; just make sure you go somewhere with a good reputation. Take a look at sites like the Shamrock Gifts Aran sweater range to get an idea of what’s out there. Just choose what you like, but do go into store to get a feel for the texture.
Traditionally, sweaters of this type were made by hand, and you can still get them like that. Keep in mind, however, that it takes longer to make and is therefore more expensive.