This is a great question – and one we get often.
Wool is made from protein, just like your hair or fingernails. So chances are, your body is already quite familiar with these!
But unlike hair, wool isn’t a smooth fiber! If you look at a wool fiber under a microscope, it has scales that look like those on a fish. If the wool is coarse, those scales physically scratch you – it’s not an allergic reaction. It can be uncomfortable, though, which is why we fell in love with the superfine Merinos so many years ago. The scales on the tiny Merino fibers are so small that they rest comfortably on the skin without causing irritation.
These scales can be very useful, though – they are what allows wool to felt! When moisture, heat, and agitation are introduced (think that newly-washed sweater that accidentally made it into the dryer), those fibers lock onto one another and bind tightly. That’s what causes the overall size reduction in the garments.
Sometimes, though, that’s exactly what you want to have happen! Felted slippers can be a real treat. (Check out our Snow Day Slippers. Adding 25% to the width and 20% to the length is a fun experiment if you want to try to felt them!)
If you have experienced a true allergic reaction when wearing wool, it’s likely not the wool that’s getting to you. Perhaps the soap used to scour (that’s what we call washing) the wool wasn’t rinsed out all the way, It could also be a reaction to the dyes, which is why we aim to use natural dyes on our yarn.
We’ve had so many people tell us that they haven’t been able to wear wool until they found Morehouse Farm and our flock of merinos! <3