The Merino Sheep
Merino sheep are fine wool sheep that live mostly in South America, Australia and New Zealand. In these surroundings they are exposed to extreme weather conditions and have to endure significant variations in temperature. To compensate for these changes, their wool possesses thermoregulating qualities: During the summer it cools the body, over the winter it insulates against the cold. On top of that, the wool is breathable, odour neutral as well as exceptionally soft and light.
At first, the Merino wool is carefully washed. Then the individual fibre bundles are combed and dried which makes them extremely smooth. The thus processed wool is used to produce the knitted fabric.
When this material is now slightly felted, it acquires entirely new properties: The textile’s structure changes, it becomes denser and develops a sealed surface while the impression of the typical knitting stitch recedes. It emerges a delicately roughened texture with a unique and vivid look.
This refinement of the initial material increases its resistance considerably. The result is an ultralight knitted design fabric with a vivid surface and a very high durability.
Felting is an elaborate process: Fresh spring water, heated to 38° celsius, is added to the material; simultaneously, it is being pressed and kneaded. In the entire process, no chemicals, like softeners, are used. It is because of this and the fact that wool is both biodegradable and naturally renewable that merino wool satisfies in an ideal fashion the increasingly important demands of sustainability. In light of this work-intensive production process, it is understandable that these fabrics belong to an upmarket price range.
The basic outlines of this process are well-known, its origins lying as far back as the stone age. Today, however, the production is handled by the most advanced computer controlled facilities. That way not only thick, coarse felts can be manufactured but also very fine fabrics of the highest quality and appeal — as are used by KATHARINA HOVMAN.