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You may remember the wool socks your grandmother used to knit for you with a slight shudder. Itchy, scratchy, uncomfortable… They don’t bring back many fond memories, do they? Well, fond memories of your loving grandmother, perhaps. The socks, however, are definitely something you’d rather forget.
We’re here to change your mind about wool socks. Our 100% merino wool socks are warm, lightweight, comfortable, and absorbent. They are also definitely not itchy or scratchy. That feature is why we splurge on pure merino for our socks. This wool is the absolute best for against-your-skin comfort. And isn’t that what you want and deserve?
Unless you raise sheep, you may have never heard of Merinos. Well known in Europe during the Middle Ages, Merino sheep were revered for the fine quality of their wool. They produced the wool favored above all others by European royalty.
Originally protected against export from Spain by the death penalty, Merino sheep gradually made their way across Europe as gifts from one royal to another. Louis XVI of France developed the Rambouillet (or French Merino) breed from a generous gift of an entire flock from his cousin, the king of Spain. This breed helped further spread Merino genes. Eventually Merinos, or sheep bearing their genes, made their way throughout the world. Today, more than half of the sheep in the world bear the Merino’s royal DNA.
Warm, Wonderful, Wooly Socks
So, just what is it that makes the wool from this breed of sheep so remarkable? Why is it the only wool good enough for Fair Island socks?
First, let’s take a look at what makes wool in general so great for socks.
- Your feet will stay drier in wool socks because they can absorb up to 30% of their weight in moisture without feeling clammy or wet. No more worries about slogging through slushy snow.
- Wool acts as a wick, pulling moisture away from your feet and into its central core. If your feet have a tendency to sweat, they’ll stay drier and more comfortable in wool socks.
- It has antibacterial properties and doesn’t promote the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Drier and fresher – need we say more?
- Your toes will stay toasty in wool. Little crimps line each fiber and those crimps act as tiny pockets that trap the warm air coming off your body. Instead of warming the atmosphere, that air will keep your feet warm.
- Wool stretches and then returns to shape. No more saggy, misshapen socks. Our natural wool socks will give and move with you, and then return to shape.
- Tired of plain white socks? Wool dyes beautifully. It takes to dye so easily that our socks come in lots of deep, rich colors. Of course, we offer plain white, too.
- Wool is a very ‘green’ product. Sheep require shearing every year for their comfort, they produce their own replacements, and their wool is 100% recyclable. For our customers who prefer a completely natural product, check out our line of socks dyed with natural vegetable dyes. The soft, subtle colors are available in a range of warm earth tones.
- If you like to stretch your stocking feet out to the campfire, you might appreciate the fact that wool won’t burn. Well, it might burn if you take a torch to it and try really hard. But even if you manage to catch it on fire, it will go out as soon as you take the torch away.
- Wool is very durable. The fibers have an incredible ability to bend and move without breaking. That means you’re investing in socks that won’t wear out after just a few months. Who knows – you might have to add your Fair Island socks to your will.
Did you know that wool has scales? That’s right, microscopic scales cover every individual fiber. Those scales are the reason why your favorite sweater turned into a doll-sized sweater when you forgot and put it in the washer. The scales meshed together and turned that lovely soft sweater into dense, thick felt. Felt is so easy to produce that it was probably the world’s first textile.
Merino wool is soft enough to wear against your skin because its scales are much finer and smaller than other wools. Smaller scales = less scratchy. By the way, we process our merino to make the wool washable. No Kent-sized socks for you!
All wool is crimped to some extent. Most wool isn’t crimped the full length of each fiber, but merino is. All of those crimps provide lots of loft and ‘spring’. Most of the warmth and elasticity attributed to wool is a result of those crimps.
Merino’s full-length crimps make it extra warm. They also mean it’s elastic enough to retain its shape for a long time.
The diameter of a wool fiber determines its texture. The diameter is measured in microns (one millionth of a meter) and ranges from about 12 to 40 or more. The finest diameter wool is wonderful for clothing while the coarsest wool generally becomes rugs.
Merino typically ranges from 16-24. That’s approximately one-fifth the diameter of one of your hairs or about the same as the finest alpaca. Ultrafine merino is a mere 13-15 microns, or about the same as angora and vicuna.
Merino’s very fine fibers give it more surface area for its weight and that extra surface area equals loft, which equals warmth.
Give your hardworking feet a treat – pamper them with our 100% merino wool socks. You can almost hear that sigh of relief already, can’t you? We’ll admit that our merino socks are an investment, but it’s one you (and your feet) will enjoy for many years to come.
Do you have comments or questions? Or experiences you’d like to share? We’re always happy to hear from our Fair Island community.