Everything old is new again, and better than ever as more and more people embrace what the Greeks knew thousands of years ago: that organic wool fabric is one of the best fabrics you can use for clothing and bedding. From babies to the elderly, underwear to outerwear, summer and winter, wool is the way to go.
Threads of Organic Wool Fabric
Wool is a complex fiber. It absorbs but also repels water; stretches, but springs back into shape; resists dirt, but takes and holds dye. Its ability to absorb up to 30 percent of its weight in moisture and then wick it out is how it keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer, and what makes wool such a good choice for a mattress pad. So long as it is organic wool fabric and not a heavy weave, wool is a surprisingly comfortable choice for summer wear. Its natural crimp gives it an elasticity and flexibility that allows it to hold its shape. It even has a natural level of UV protection somewhat higher than other fabrics.
Growing Organic Wool
So that the sheep and their wool can be certified organic, farmers and ranchers must commit to not using any chemicals for feed crops, insecticides or disapproved medicines. The sheep must be fed 100 percent organic feed and forage and be allowed to roam naturally in an environment completely devoid of synthetics.
The two most important distinctions in organic sheep management is that the sheep are not "dipped," which is a conventional means of controlling parasites in which the sheep are submerged in pesticide-filled pools, the exposure to which can cause changes in the human nervous system. The runoff from these pools can contaminate ground water as well.
Secondly, the natural carrying capacity of the land cannot be exceeded, thus preventing overgrazing. Should the price of wool go down, farmers are compensated with a premium for their organic products.
So that's what makes the sheep organic, but what about the fabric itself? Organic wool yarn is also not chemically treated. When sheared, the wool is cleaned in approved biodegradable cleansing agents before being carded and spun or woven at a certified organic mill. Whether you are knitting, buying a coat or underwear or blanket, you can be assured that the wool you buy has been touched by nothing synthetic or in any way compromising to the fabric's integrity.
Other Advantages of Wool
In addition to its ability to both absorb and wick away moisture, organic wool fabric has many other qualities that make it the ideal choice for clothing and bedding, especially for babies and people with allergies:
- It naturally resists mildew and mold because of the way it repels moisture. The moisture passes through its fibers but is not held, thus giving mildew and mold no chance to grow.
- It is fire retardant, capable of resisting flame without the chemical treatment usually required for fireproofing. While synthetics can be made fireproof, it means you or your baby are wearing these chemicals next to your skin.
- It is naturally non-allergenic. With the exception of the very rare allergy to lanolin, the oil inherent to wool, when people say they have an intolerance to wool, it is the chemicals used in the treatment of the fabric that makes them itch, not the fabric itself. Organic wool fabric is one of the best fabrics for people with sensitive skins to wear, and organic wool makes for the best bedding for anyone with allergies, because the fiber is naturally dust mite repellent.
- It is easy to care for. Most stains and dirt sit on the surface of the fiber, the makeup of which is easy to brush, so stains will lift right off. You will rarely have to take an organic wool garment to the dry cleaners. Just don't put it in the washing machine, or it may shrink!
What Bo-Peep and Mary Knew
In addition to all its other benefits, wool is environmentally sound. Sheep live long lives. Their wool can be harvested annually with no harm to themselves. Additionally, their milk makes an excellent drink and cheese. A renewable, sustainable resource going back tens of thousands of years, organic wool creates no pollution and is a beautiful way to treat your body. The prices of fabric are currently higher than that of conventional wool, but when balanced against all you gain, organic wool is a bargain for life.