10 surprising ways merino wool makes the best textile
10 surprising ways merino wool makes the best textile
There are many kinds of felt. At Graf Lantz, we are only interested in the world’s best kind, merino wool felt, and we use it exclusively in all our felt products.
Being the world’s best felt requires a combination of two specific factors: a singular Bavarian technique and an ultra-fine wool fiber from a specific breed of sheep called merino. The merino fibers we choose to use are the thinnest, strongest, and most elastic of all wool varieties. Nature has optimized merino fibers for thermal protection, water resistance, and antimicrobial properties. When individual fibers with those qualities work together in the millions, interesting things begin to happen.
We’ve put together a list of the ten most fascinating things to know about merino wool felt and why we’ve chosen it as the Graf Lantz signature textile.
1. Wicking that works
Nature knows what it’s doing. Water does not hurt felt. In fact, wool is the most hydrophilic of fibers. Felt can absorb up to 30% moisture and still feel dry to the touch. First, merino felt quickly absorbs moisture away from the surface and into the body of the felt. Then, through a natural process called wicking, the moisture is continuously dispersed outward along the fibers where it turns to vapor in the tiny air spaces created in the felting process (more on that below). From there is a short trip back to the surface where it evaporates away.
2. Stain & Dirt Resistant
Our merino fibers are sealed in the dying process to create a natural barrier against stains. Fortunately, most common stains are actually not stains at all, they are residue that has become trapped between the fine merino fibers as water moisture is pulled away by wicking. No problem, spot cleaning is easy. With a simple mix of warm water, light detergent and a little massaging, the trapped residue lifts and washes away with a thorough rinse. Remove excess moisture with an absorbent towel, lay flat and let the natural wicking process do its thing till dry. Here’s more on how to care for your felt products.
Our merino fibers are extra curly and spring-like. When you put a lot of them all together and interlock the curls tightly, you get a strong, lightweight felt. But here’s what’s most fascinating: merino felt is classed as a lightweight textile because much of its bulk is actually empty space. Yep, it’s true. The irregular spring-like shape of the curls prevents individual fibers from aligning too closely. The separation creates a lot of empty space in between, which means, the more empty space, the lighter the textile. All without losing structure or strength.
4. Super Strong & Durable
We chose felt as our signature textile for its simple, natural beauty and endless utility. With millions of years in the test labs of nature, it’s not surprising that many tech fabrics are modeled after the natural benefits and attributes of merino fibers. Their tensile strength and spring-like flexibility give felt unmatched strength. It can be fully bent 20,000 times before failing. Merino wool felt can take temperatures up to 450ºF for long periods without damage and they are impervious to cold. The fibers are also completely water-safe and clean easily. They take on rich saturated color while maintaining a natural antibacterial coating, they can even neutralize formaldehyde (your body will thank you). The list goes on – literally, keep reading.
5. Soft & Scratch Free
Many types of wool are itchy, we don’t use those. That’s because some wools fibers are so course the cut ends actually poke the skin causing itchiness. The secret to merino’s soft touch is simple: the thinner the fiber, the softer the felt. The average diameter of merino fibers makes them naturally flexible allowing them to softly bend and give way when they come against the skin.
6. Odor Resistant
Merino wool is known and prized for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. The thin waxy coating on wool fiber contains fatty acids that naturally inhibit the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. This means that woolen items do not need regular washing and will smell fresh after repeated use, unlike many synthetic fibers.
7. Sustainable and Renewable
Merino wool is rapidly renewable, biodegradable, recyclable and can be produced naturally with minimal negative impact. But all that is just half the story. Sustainability is about more than where things come from. It’s also about where it goes, its purpose, and how it stands the test of time. Things built to last do not require constant replacements. Less is more.
8. Oeko Tex® natural, non-toxic dyes.
It’s more than just the rich beauty and saturated color, it’s what goes into it. OekoTex® natural dyes are the forefront of natural sustainable color technology. All Graf Lantz felt is certified to OekoTex® International standards. No toxins, no residue, no odor, no yuck. No worries!
9. No Pilling!
Nothing says low quality like pilling felt. Graf Lantz merino felt does not pill. That’s because the fibers we use are very long. Felted fibers don’t separate easily in the first place, but longer fibers hold everything together over a much longer area preventing migration. No migration, no loose fibers, no pilling.
10. Great for all season weather
A common perception for felt is that of a winter-only textile, that’s understandable. When most people think of wool they usually stop at big, heavy, warm, itchy sweaters. But not so fast, 10 out of 10 merino sheep would strongly disagree. The points above show how felt is tough and adaptable with utility in every season. Obviously, a felt wedding dress in August might be a bad call. But for just about any other purpose felt does its job well no matter the weather.