Not Your Grandma’s Wool
Last modified: Tuesday, October 17th, 2017
My earliest memories of wool cause my skin to crawl a little. As kids, we received handmade wool hats and mittens from my Grandmother when we visited for Christmas. She was raised on a farm and grew up living a sustainable lifestyle. Waste was not an option. The yarn she used to make our garments was quite itchy against your skin due to the courser wool fibers. The gifts were still appreciated as they kept us warm when we were slogging up the local sledding hill on cold winter days.
Fast forward thirty years and merino wool has become my go-to fabric for outdoor activities as I frequently find myself dressed in it from head to toe. The use of finer fibers allows for a more comfortable interface between my skin and base layers. Merino wool has so many benefits over high-tech synthetic fibers. It’s optimal for moisture management and temperature control; the fibers pull moisture away from your skin keeping you dry and warm in cool weather. The evaporation of that same moisture also keeps you cool when temps rise. The combo of a raglan base layer and a long sleeve wool jersey can keep you comfortable in a wide temperature range.
The other benefit that I appreciate is the anti-stink characteristic of wool. You can spend days on the bike and in the woods and still roll into a 4-star restaurant and only offend other customers by your smoky aroma rather than your stench. Wool also has a lower environmental impact than synthetic fibers. I wash my wool less often and it’s a renewable resource.
The merino wool we use in our raglans and jersey have fiber diameters of 18-19 microns. The human hair is approximately 60 microns. The raw fibers are spun into yarn. Yarns can be spun from one fiber or a blend of fibers, can vary in gauge (diameter) and can vary in the amount of twist. More twist can mean more durability, but too much twist can make the fabric & finished garments warp.
Our merino garments are all made from knit fabric, as opposed to woven. Think again of grandma, but a machine made of a couple thousand very tiny grandmas knitting in a huge circle. Different patterns of knitting using different yarns produce different fabric characteristics- weight, thickness, texture, stretch, durability.
Tiny Grandma Knitting Machine
Our tees and raglans are made from 150 grams per square meter (gsm) jersey knit. This is a lightweight, soft, thin fabric made from fine yarns that feels great against your skin. Our LS jersey is made from a 340gsm ponte di roma knit. This is a heavyweight, highly durable fabric made from slightly thicker yarns that is not quite as soft but is a great temperature regulator that will stand up to rubbing backpack straps, falling in the dirt and being washed repeatedly. Our neck gaiters combine the best of both worlds with the raglan on the inside and the ponte on the outside.
Here in Minnesota the arrival of fall is the ideal weather to bust out the wool layers and enjoy one of the nicest times to ride in the Midwest. Check out our wide assortment of wool garments on our gear page here.