Sheep are the main source of this natural product but the textile laws also include other fine animal hairs in their definition, e.g. cashmere and mohair from goats), alpaca from llamas or camel hair. If the label says ?100 % wool?, ?pure wool? or merely ?wool? it could mean that the manufacturing process included lower quality wool or used wool products (old clothes). The definition ?sheep’s wool? describes wool obtained from healthy, living sheep, containing no more than 7 % “foreign” fibres. Pure sheep’s wool contains no more than 0.3 % “foreign” fibres. Only this high quality wool is permitted to carry the “wool seal” which guarantees it has been tested and approved by the International Wool Secretariat.
Wool characteristics: Wool is relatively dirt-resistant and hardly creases. Just hang up a garment in damp air, which not only straightens creases but also allows odors of sweat, food and smoke to disappear. Wool repels drops of water but can absorb up to 40 % moisture in the form of steam and then only dries slowly. Wool is very good at keeping in heat, and this is increased by fulling and felting to make it windproof (see loden).
Wool care: Wool should always be washed by hand with delicate or normal washing powder, at a water temperature no higher than 30 degrees C. Rinse in plenty of water then carefully squeeze out; on no account should wool be rubbed or wrung! Wool should not be soaked either. Non-felted wool can be machine-washed on the delicate cycle at 30 degrees C. Do not spin, but roll in a piece of toweling and carefully squeeze out the water. A garment should not be hung up but dried flat. Do not dry in a drier, in direct sunlight or on a radiator. Sensitive woolen fabrics (e.g. in jackets, blazers, trousers/pants, skirts etc.) should not be washed but dry-cleaned. Iron wool at medium heat (wool setting), with steam or under a damp cloth.
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