Types of wool you must know about
When you think of wool, you might probably recall your grandmother knitting sweaters for the children in the house. They would be in different colours, and every sweater would have a different pattern. However, not all wool is the same!
There are different types of wool, each classified by its origin. Cashmere, for example, comes from a goat – yes, you read that right – bred in Kashmir. Similarly, Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep, a native of Spain and Portugal, though the Spanish variety is better known.
Let’s look at some of the more popular types of wool and how best to care for them.
1. Angora wool :The soft and fluffy texture of Angora comes from the fur of the Angora rabbit. There are a number of species of Angora rabbit named after their natural habitat, size, or texture of fur. Well-known ones include the English Angora, French Angora, German Angora, Giant Angora, and Satin Angora.
Angora wool is extremely delicate and must be hand-washed. It can be ironed if necessary but take care to protect the gentle fur. Gently brush the fur after cleaning it to keep it fluffy.
2. Cashmere wool : The reason why Cashmere is highly priced is that the fibre comes from specific parts of the Kashmir goat, but that is not the only reason. The wool is procured from the soft undercoat that lies below the coarse outer coat. Separating the two coats is a delicate process that must be carried out with great care so as not to destroy the softness of the undercoat.
The soft cashmere fabric requires gentle care even when mixed with other fabric. It must be washed by hand in cold water – warm water can destroy the texture. In case you have to iron it, first turn it inside out. Pilling is native to this fabric, so watch out for lint on your clothes if you are wearing cashmere.
3. Merino wool : Produced from the coat of the Spanish and Portuguese Merino sheep, this is one of the more expensive varieties of wool. Known for its soft texture and elegant look, merino fabric has the added advantage of being resistant to pilling.
Merino fabric must be washed in cold water and dried indoors. Drying in the direct heat of the sun can ruin the texture. Use a cold iron, or iron lightly on low heat.
4. Mohair wool : Mohair wool is also produced from a species of Angora goat known as mohair goat. The difference is that mohair is not as fine as angora. It is therefore used as a substitute for angora.
Though the fabrics differ, both mohair and angora must be washed by hand and brushed lightly to maintain the fluffiness and texture. Turn your garment inside out if you must iron them.
5. Sheep’s wool or regular wool : This is the stuff your pullovers and knit sweaters are made of. The fibre comes from the coat of many varieties of sheep. This type of wool is inexpensive and readily available. Nonetheless, it requires gentle care since the fabric is stretchable and may lose shape easily.
The best way to clean sheep’s wool is to have it dry-cleaned, though you can hand-wash it if you wish. Use a gentle detergent and don’t scrub. Lay it out on a flat surface to dry so that it retains its shape.
No matter what variety of wool you have, gentle care and maintenance are needed to make it last longer. Aside from the cleaning method you adopt, remember not to use strong detergent powders as they may stain the fabric and make it look dull.
The best way to increase the shelf life of your woollens is to use a gentle liquid detergent like Godrej Ezee that will not harm the fabric or destroy its delicateness.