Wool blankets are arm and durable, and are available in various kinds of wool and wool blends.
Wool is a versatile and prized fiber because of its many wonderful properties. It'll last for decades because wool fibers are durable and sturdy. It's no wonder that the military uses wool blankets for its troops. In addition to these properties, wool can be recycled and reused, making it a truly green product. You can't go wrong with wool as your fiber choice for a blanket. Other great natural properties include:
- Colorfast: Dying wool is easy. (Be aware that non-colorfast, natural wool products may suffer from color fading if left in the sunlight for long periods of time.)
- Insulating: Wool fibers create air pockets that act as a moisture barrier.
- Moisture Wicking Ability: The fiber make-up of wool gives it a moisture wicking property that keeps you dry even when you perspire.
- Natural Flame Retardant: Wool isn't flammable.
- Water Repellent: The outer fibers of wool are dense and hard, making it water repellent.
There are many wool grades, which are based on the crimp of the wool to determine wool quality. Crimp is a word you'll find whenever wool grades are discussed. It's the natural wave of wool. Some wool-bearing animals don't have crimped fibers. This lack of crimping makes the wool softer and therefore more valuable.
Merino wool is such high quality that it was used as the measuring stick for the original wool grading system. The system was created around the assumption that you were grading all wools against that of merino sheep wool.
The Blood Wool Grading System is based on 100 percent blood line of Merino sheep. One-half blood wool meant you'd bred a merino sheep with another breed, and so on.
- Blood Wool: Fine wool grade, very fine crimp (wool fibers close together)
- 1/2 Blood Wool: Medium wool grade, fine crimp
- 3/8 Blood Wool: Medium wool grade, medium crimp
- 1/4 Blood Wool: Coarse wool grade, medium coarse crimp
- Low scale of 1/4 Blood Wool: Coarse wool grade, coarse crimp (wool fibers appear large waves)
- Common Wool: Very coarse wool grade, very coarse crimp
- Braid Wool: Very very coarse wool grade, coarsest wool crimp available
Types of Wool for Blankets
You may think of sheep's wool whenever you think of wool blankets; however, there are quite a few other animals that also provide wool.
Alpaca Wool (Alpaca)
It might surprise you to learn that Alpaca wool is available in over 20 natural colors. This wool is often used for blankets and is typically more durable than cashmere. Alpaca is considered to be a luxurious fiber because it's has a very silky feel. It's also known for having a great insulating property, which guarantees you'll stay warm. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Alpaca sweaters were a fashion must for every wardrobe, especially pullover sweaters that were always monogrammed. It's a great choice of wool for a blanket because Alpaca won't pill like some wools.
Angora (Angora Rabbit)
Angora wool is one of the best natural wicking wools and is ultra soft. The Angora fibers are so fine, the wool tends to be fragile, which makes it difficult to weave. Angora wool works best when woven with other wool fibers and is why you'll typically find Angora wool blends for blankets.
Camel Hair (Bactrian Camel)
Camel hair is another luxury wool that's usually found as a blend. It's harvested from a two-humped Bactrian camel. Bactrian camels are raised in their native countries of Turkey, Siberia and China. The harvesting process is expensive. Because camel hair is typically very coarse, it's blended with a variety of other wools. Overcoats are the most common use for camel hair, although some blended wools can be successfully used for blankets.
Cashmere (Kashmir Goat)
Cashmere is considered one of the most luxurious of all wool fibers and is made from the Kashmir goat, native to the middle east and far eastern countries. Cashmere is termed as a downy wool because it grows beneath the goat's outer hair. What makes this wool so expensive is that the harvesting can only be done once a year with a very small yield per goat.
Mohair (Angora Goat)
Mohair comes from the Angora goat and is silky with a lustrous sheen to the fiber. It's lightweight and is easy to dye, making it a great upscale choice for a blanket.
There are numerous types of sheep wools, but as previously mentioned, Merino is considered an ultra soft wool. It's also superior to other wools for holding dye and has a natural UV blocking property. There are ten varieties of Merino wool to give you quite a few choices of grade quality and texture.
Buying Wool Blankets
You can find wool blankets at almost any bedding store or department store in the home or bedding section. The color choices are vibrant and you can find some very interesting patterns and designs, including unique Native-American inspired designs.
Choosing Your Blanket
There is much to consider when choosing a wool blanket. When shopping, keep in mind that price points vary depending on the quality and type of wool used to make the blanket. It's easy to end up comparing apples to oranges if you don't read labels and pay close attention to the type of wool used to make each blanket.