Wool comes from sheep, right? Not necessarily. Technically and even legally, wool can be harvested from sheep, certain types of goats (think cashmere and mohair), alpacas (which are related to llamas), camels, angora rabbits and… musk oxen whose wool is called qiviut. But to keep it simple: when Sensify speaks of wool we mean wool from sheep – and of merino wool when it is harvested from merino sheep.
Did you know that wool as we know it has a fascinating history? First records of domesticated sheep date back to around 9000 BC somewhere in the Ancient Middle-East. Surprise! Sheep in those days were not the fluffy, cuddly gentle animals we count to fall asleep at night. Rather, they were hairy beasts first domesticated for their meat and their hide.
The sheep we know today are the result of a long selective breeding process that took centuries and centuries. Imagine: the first woven wool garments only came along around 500 BC to 400 BC! Why is that? Because the hairy sheep of long bygone times had long coarse hairs forming the top layer of their fur while the shorter woolly fibres grew close to the skin surface. That is where the selective breeding came in. And where wool was first harvested by combing the animal’s fleece, shearing came much later, during the Iron Age (which started around 1200 BC in the Near East reaching the North of Europe only around 500 BC).
First records of domesticated sheep date back to around 9000 BC
somewhere in the Ancient Middle-East
Nowadays sheep are sheared once a year and their wool goes through a thorough process of cleaning and washing before being judged fit to be spun into yarn. This yarn (equally called “wool” for short) has some amazing qualities.
It is breathable and acts as a natural insulator. It has a unique ability to react to changes in the wearer’s body temperature – meaning wool keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer (think of the Bedouins braving the scorching desert heat wearing layers of insulating woollen fabrics).
Wool is also sustainable since it keeps growing back. And to top it all: wool is biodegradable and turns into compost while simply buried in the earth.