Fun Wool Facts

Beginning in April 2018, we decided we come across far too many interesting and fun facts about our industry to keep them to ourselves. Every Friday on our social media pages we share something new and interesting with our followers. This page is a collection of our posts for anyone interested in a #WoolFactsFriday binge.

April 6, 2018

A customer asked if there was any truth in the rumour of traditional Aran jumpers (native to the Aran Islands off Ireland) having unique cable patterns for each village in order to identify which village a fisherman belonged to if his body washed up. The answer is…false. While these were certainly widely used as fisherman’s jumpers due to being knitted from raw wool (hence the traditional white colour) which still contained it’s lanolin and was therefore water resistant, there is no historical link between different regions having unique patterns for any reason. The more you know.

April 13, 2018

Black Friday – Black Wool. Did you know not all sheep produce white wool? Black sheep are the result of a recessive genetic trait inherited from both white sheep parents and they will produce black wool. Traditionally worth far less than white wool as it can’t be easily dyed for commercial use, these days there is a growing market for natural black wool from hobby and hand spinners.

April 27, 2018

It’s a stretch to relate this to ‘wool’ facts but we feel you might need to know that on the rare occasion a sheep and a goat have a baby, it would be called a geep.

April 20, 2018

Did you know our Outdoor Jumpers are made from recycled wool? Does recycled wool come from secondhand sheep? Recycled wool is when a large quantity of similar coloured unwanted woollens are cleaned and shredded back to their fibres before being processed and spun into a new yarn which has all the same great qualities of the original wool PLUS a fancy new melange colour from being blended. What a great way to give new life to old knits.

May 4, 2018

HAPPY STAR WARS DAY! Wool Facts Friday today HAS to have a Star Wars theme so we found an article where two brothers recreated scenes from the series using only wool and needles. Worth a click for the ‘Luke Sky-WOOL-ker swings through the Death Star with Princess Leia’ caption.

May 25, 2018

We get asked some odd questions from time to time, but for the education of all our followers we’ll share the best of them here on Wool Facts Friday. Today’s question is: “Does the toilet paper brand ‘Merino’ actually make their toilet paper with Merino Wool?” Straight from their website, the answer is no. They use 100% recycled paper. Wool has lots of brilliant properties but it’s use as a toilet paper has not really taken off. We suppose it would be an adequate substitute if you were really caught short but we really hope it doesn’t come to this!

May 11, 2018

We use worsted yarn at Interknit. This means before being spun into a yarn, the wool fibre has all been combed in the same direction (away from the end that was shorn from the sheep). It is a Merino worsted wool which means the fibres are generally longer (length of a matchstick) than regular wool from other breeds of sheep. Worsted wool yarns significantly reduce the ‘itch’ or ‘halo’ effect commonly associated with knitted garments.

June 8, 2018

Did you know there’s no such thing as an allergy to wool? Don’t believe us?

May 18, 2018

Why do we call people who are followers, and who don’t check to see if facts are accurate or sources are reliable before jumping to conclusions, sheep? Are sheep really so stupid? The short answer (from a range of farmers and veterinarians) is, yes. Sheep are a flock animal and when raised with their flock they’ll tend to do what most of the rest of the flock is doing. Exceptions are hand raised sheep who consider their humans and other family pets as their flock.

June 1, 2018

Did you know the ‘traditional’ 7th wedding anniversary gift is wool? We’ll say ‘traditional’ because it’s only been this way since 1937 when gifts were assigned to each anniversary up to 25yrs. Before this only the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th & 75th anniversaries had an associated gift.

June 15, 2018

Did you know wool is fire retardant? Wool won’t burn at temperatures lower than 600 degrees Celsius, and even when it does reach high temperatures it doesn’t melt or stick to the skin like other fabrics do, it smoulders at low heat and puts itself out. This makes wearing wool clothing a safer option for people working with fire hazards, like electricians.

June 22, 2018

Did you know wool is a major component of baseballs? Each ball contains about 340 metres of wool windings, which provide resilience to withstand the crushing impact of a batter’s hit off high-velocity pitches and helps the ball return to its perfectly spherical shape.

June 29, 2018

To kick off #PlasticFreeJuly early, did you know that “Choosing to wear and wash natural fibres will reduce the number of synthetic fibres from which fragments can be made.” Therefore saving our oceans?

July 6, 2018

Did you know a female sheep is known as a Ewe and a male sheep is a Ram? A castrated male sheep is a Wether and a sheep younger than 14 months old is a Lamb. Lambswool is obtained from the very first time a lamb is sheared, at around six months old, and is softer than the wool it will produce for the rest of its life.

July 13, 2018

Did you know the nursery rhyme ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ actually has quite a sinister origin? The most common conclusion is that it’s actually about the Great Custom, which was a tax on wool in the 13th century. Under the new taxes the price of a sack of wool was split between the farmer, king and church. It takes on sinister connotations if you consider that the original last line was ‘And none for the little boy who cries down the lane’, indicating that the poor shepherd boys were left with no profits due to the heavy tax.

July 20, 2018

Did you know early Chinese cultures developed a fabric that was completely unharmed by fire and supposedly made from the wool of the salamander? Of course, we now know you can’t get wool from a salamander and the fabric was actually woven from asbestos, which is a known human carcinogen.

August 10, 2018

On September 19, 1783, a SHEEP, a cockerel and a duck were the first animals to fly in a hot air balloon. All survived but the cockerel had a wing broken by the sheep. The experiment was held to see how different animals reacted to altitudes, the duck was the control. 

August 31, 2018

According to research in New Zealand, the methane in the flatulence of one sheep could power a small truck for 40 kilometres a day!

July 27, 2018

Did you know that wool is necessary in piano construction? Felted wool is used for the dampers. If it weren’t for dampers, playing one note on a piano would cause the rest of the notes to ring and make a strange string echo noise. When a key is played, the action lifts the damper off that one string and holds it up for as long as the key is depressed.

August 17, 2018

Did you know Merinos produce the finest wool fibres of all modern sheep? Starting from 16 microns in diameter compared to up to 40 microns for their meat bred relatives. But what is a micron? A micron is a unit of measurement for determining the ‘thickness’ of things too small to measure in millimetres, and too small to see with the naked human eye.

September 7, 2018

Did you know wool can both absorb and repel water at the same time? Wool readily absorbs water vapour (which keeps you cool and cozy) but repels water liquid (helping make wool naturally stain resistant). Cool hey?

August 3, 2018

Did you know that exporting a Merino sheep from Spain was a crime punishable by death? For the 400 years between the Merino’s first appearance until the Napoleonic wars of the 18th Century, Spain held a monopoly on the fine wool industry by executing anyone who dared try and export a sheep.

August 24, 2018

Did you know, a traditional Mongolian hangover cure involved drinking a pickled sheep eye in tomato juice?

September 14, 2018

It’s actually quite difficult to find ancient evidence of woollen clothing because wool is biodegradable – however clothing and other items made of wool have been found preserved throughout much of the ancient world. From 3,400-year-old Egyptian yarn to fragmentary textiles unearthed in Siberian graves dating from the first century B.C., we know people have been wearing wool for a very long time.

September 21, 2018

Not just good for their fleece, sheep’s milk is ideal for making cheese. It contains higher levels of calcium, vitamins A, B and E and other nutritional elements than cow’s milk. Famous types of sheep’s milk cheese include Greek feta, French Roquefort, Spanish manchego and sheep’s milk ricotta and pecorino romano from Italy.

October 19, 2018

Last week we found where the Merino Ram on our shilling came from – this week we’re asking did you know the ram has made another three coin appearances since the shilling?

On a circulated 50c piece in 1991 to celebrate 25yrs of decimal currency in Australia; on a circulated 50c piece in 2016 to celebrate 50yrs of decimal currency in Australia and on an uncirculated $1 coin in 2011 to celebrate Australian wool and the role it played in the development of modern Australia.

October 5, 2018

The sheep is the animal is most often mentioned in the King James Bible.

October 12, 2018

Have you ever wondered who the good looking Merino Ram on our shillings was, or where he came from?

“The original design of the ram was modelled on a champion Merino at the Annual Sydney Sheep Show in 1932 and came to be known as the “Shilling Ram””, Bill Shorten (assistant Treasurer, 2011) said.

Taking the story further, Stephen Burns spent years investigating the story behind the Merino Ram’s head (even writing a book) and he believes he found the breeder – “In the dining room, suitably awe-inspiring, surrounded by lots of photographs of old Merino rams, prize-winning rams bred by Neilson Mills, there in the corner above the fireplace was a photograph of a ram’s head. I thought at the time that was the ram on the shilling coin and I thought there should be an interesting story behind that ram.” 

September 28, 2018

Why do we put the buttons on different sides of a front close garment according to the gender it was designed for?

The short answer is that no one seems to know, but everyone still does it. Here’s a condensed version of the theories:

⚔️Maybe men began to button their clothes left over right to ensure they could easily draw their weapons from their hip with their dominant hand (right)?

🕯️ Maybe ladies clothes began to be buttoned right over left because when buttonholed clothing was first released, the upper class women who could afford it were dressed by maids and this would make it easier for a right handed person to button while standing opposite you?

 Maybe it was so taboo for women to wear mens clothing that the opposite buttoning came about to ensure a woman would be ostracised if her garment closely resembled a male counterparts?

🏇 Maybe when women took up horse-riding (side-saddle fashion) their blouses and jackets were made to button this way to avoid a breeze through the gaps between buttons?

It’s a concept that does seem outdated and unnecessarily gendered, but like almost every other clothing manufacturer on the planet, we still do this. Maybe because our cardigan patterns date back to the early 80’s?