When the first winds of winter blow, one cannot help but imagine wrapping themselves in a woollen shawl and sit near a fireplace. Have you ever wondered if your favourite woollen shawl is stretchable?
All about Wool
Wool fabric is a type of cloth made with the application of animal hair for retaining body heat. It has always been one of the most expensive materials with exclusive properties. The luxury of Wool is still perceived as the sign of high social status. Wool is the ultimate natural chameleon of fibre; it can be satisfyingly soft, sensuous warm and cosy, or rugged, sturdy, and functional. The most beautiful vanquished wool cloths can even appear sleek, elegant, and lustrous, and possess an inherent drapability.
How elastic is Wool?
In terms of elasticity, Wool is better than any other plant or animal fibre. Wool can be twisted and stretched and will still return to its natural shape. The interlocking protein molecules in the strands of Wool can elongate, stretch and recover, creating an extremely robust fabric that will last. Each wool fibre is made up of millions of ‘coiled springs’ that stretch and give, rather than break. These spring-like structures are what give Wool its flexibility, elasticity, resilience and wrinkle recovery properties. The natural elasticity helps wool garments stretch with your body yet return to their original shape and have excellent crease recovery. Which is why fine wool clothing is ideal for wearing when exercising
Strength of Wool Material
Some fibres naturally have more give than others, which comes down to scientific things like molecules and structures. Pure Wool often has a slight stretch. Anyone who has put a 100% merino wool jumper in a 40’C wash will have seen this when it came out nearly half the size it shrinks because the wool can both stretch and decrease in the waist. A pure wool suit will not stretch as such, but it will naturally move with you more than more synthetic fabrics like a polyester will. Plus, Wool is breathable and can hold a bit of water without becoming damp, so it will look smart and feel comfortable when the pressure is on.
Increasing Stretch in Wool
Pure Wool can also be woven in a unique way to create stretchable cloth – this involves highly spinning yarns to enhance their flexibility. Suits made this way are often still labelled as having ‘natural’ stretch because no synthetic material has been added. Essentially, it is a smart way of getting a slight stretch without adding in more fibres, so the cloth’s handling stays the same.