Monday, 20 July 2015

What Exactly is Merino Wool?

At Yellow Front Door, we’re pretty specific about the wool cushions and throws we source - they need to be 100% pure, and made from merino wool or soft lambswool. Wool is a wonderful, warm, soft, renewable resource. It’s insulating, water-repellent, very durable, and perfect to snuggle up to in winter.
So how does merino wool differ from other types of wool? Merino is a breed of sheep known for their superior wool. They're widely regarded as having the highest quality and softest wool, finely crimped, and the most comfortable against the skin. This is down to thousands of years of evolution and careful breeding.
Merino sheep originated in Spain, merino being a Spanish word, and prior to the 18th century the export of merino sheep was a crime carrying the death penalty. Since then, merino sheep have been exported to various countries around the world, particularly other parts of Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Now the wool from any merino sheep around the world can be classified as merino wool, and Australia produces around 80% of the world’s merino wool.
Merino sheep are highly adaptable and good at foraging. They’re very tough and strong animals. But not all merino sheep produce wool suitable for textiles, it depends on the strain of the breed. For example, merino sheep bred for meat do not have wool fine enough for textiles. There are different grades of wool and merino sheep produce wool that’s less than 24 microns in diameter. The lower the microns, the finer, softer and more expensive the wool.
At Yellow Front Door, two of our throws are made from merino wool. Rainbow Check Merino Wool Throw features rainbow stripes criss-crossing against a grey background. Rainbow Spot Merino Wool Throw has fun, colourful spots against a grey background, with the reverse in brighter colours. These throws are designed and made in Yorkshire, UK, and their colours resemble a Yorkshire sweet called Yorkshire Mixture. 
Rainbow Check Throw

Rainbow Spot Throw
Lambswool is another soft wool, made from the first shearing of the lamb at around 7 months of age. It’s technically 50mm or shorter, and is very soft and elastic, suitable for high-quality textiles. We've sourced some beautiful lambswool throws and cushions from the UK. Sunset Lambswool Throw is made by UK designer Gabrielle Vary, and uses a variety of greys blended from pale grey to charcoal to create the effect of a landscape at sunset. Citric Acid and Summer Time lambswool cushion covers are fresh, vibrant, and a contemporary take on traditional knitted patterns. Vary is inspired by nature and childhood memories, and all her pieces are knitted using the finest lambswool sourced from a luxury British wool spinner in Yorkshire.
Sunset Throw

Citric Acid Cushion
Sally Nencini is another UK designer specialising in wool products. We stock her Birdie, Big Tree, Cross Stitch Flowers and Tapestry cushion covers. She is influenced by her love of vintage toys, and many of her designs are knitted in her home studio in South East London.
Birdie Cushion

Cross Stitch Flowers and Tapestry cushions
Check out the full range of wool throws and cushions online at Yellow Front Door Treat and yourself to a warmer, cosier winter.

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