JEAN FOUQUET's St MARGUERITE WITH A SPINDLE, SHEEP AND SHEEP WOOL © Louvre, from the donation of Sauvageot. A photocopy is taken from the Book of Lawrence Gowing "Paintings in the Louvre". Jean Fouquet (1420-1481) - a French painter.

  There are two main types of wool yarn: worsted and woolen (woollen). They are determined by the type of wool used to spin them, the preparation of the wool, and the way the wool is spun.

Worsted yarns are spun from long fibers of similar length lying parallel to each other. Worsted yarns are smooth, firm, and strong, and have a characteristic sheen, especially when spun from a lustrous fleece.

Woolen yarns are spun from rolags. The wool fiber for woolens is usually shorter than one used for worsted preparation. Did you know? Researchers have found that nine months is all it takes for Merino wool garments to biodegrade.

There are three main groups of wool: Fine Wools, Longwools, and Down Wools.
The quality of wool is determined by the following factors: fiber fineness, length, scale structure, color, cleanliness, and freedom from damage. Long Wools are valued for their luster and strength, the Down Wools - for being bulky but without weight, having maximum elasticity and resilience. Fine Wools are the softest, with more elasticity and loft, and slightly lustrous.

The finest wool yarns are made from the fleece of the following sheep breeds: Merino, Wensleydale, Bluefaced Leicester, Rambouillet, Debouillet, then Cormo, Comeback, CVM (California Variegated Mutant), Dormer, Polwarth, Falkland, Patagonia Sheep, Romeldale, Targhee, Zenith, Corriedale, Columbia, NZ Halfbred, and others. Each breed grows fleece with a characteristic crimp pattern - the natural waviness or curl of the wool fibers. - Reference: In Sheep's Clothing, N. and J. Fournier. For more information: Lincoln Longwool Sheep Breeders Association »

The most popular breed in the US is Cormo. This is an Australian sheep breed developed by crossing large-framed Merino rams with a British longwood breed. Cormo sheep have a fine, soft, heavy fleece, and are used for woollen and worsted fabrics, handknitting yarns, and felts. Wool is a highly effective home insulating material. Presently, the use of wool for insulation is starting to rise in popularity in Europe, Australia, Canada and Russia.

Global wool production is approximately 1.3 million tones per annum, 60% of which goes into apparel. Australia, China and New Zealand are leading commercial producers of wool. Most Australian wool comes from the merino breed. Breeds such as Lincoln and Romney produce coarser fibres, and the wool of these sheep is usually used for making carpets. One of the biggest and oldest Canadian producers of sheep's wool: Briggs & Little Mills »

GOTS CERTIFIED   The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the European and now worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. The aim of the standard is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer. Read more »

  STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is one of the world's best-known European labels for textiles tested for harmful substances. If a textile article carries the STANDARD 100 label, you can be certain that every component of this article, i.e. every thread, button and other accessories, has been tested for harmful substances and that the article therefore is harmless in human ecological terms. The test is conducted by our independent OEKO-TEX® partner institutes. Read more »


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FYI Healthy wool has a sound! Holding each end of a small strand with your thumbs and pointer fingers, flick a taut strand across the midsection with your pinky finger and listen: Healthy wool will "ping". Reference: Jeannine Bakriges " Spinning Around: Spinning, Dyeing & Knitting Elizabeth Zimmermann's Classics".
























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