Wool: The Great Thermal Insulator

My lovely lilac heather wool blanket made from sheep raised on the east coast and spun into wool for this blanket. Made in Harmony Maine.


Many other color options.


For me, thrift store shopping is full of thrills! Whenever I travel, I always seek out thrift store spots. I’m able to mingle with the locals, and I may discover a unique treasure. Martha and I stopped at a thrift shop near her New Jersey home as we drove to the shore last week. Yes, I did find a treasure!

I was drawn to a wool blanket, found in its original wrapping. It was a beautiful lilac heather color and tightly woven. As a lifelong fine textile enthusiast, I wanted this blanket. The quality workpersonship was evident. At ten dollars, it was a bargain for this twin size blanket. But how would I get it home? Reluctantly, I put it down and wandered around, choosing a few other items I was drawn to. I paid and went to the car. I told Martha about my find. She encouraged me to consider mailing it home–that is how that beautiful heather blanket arrived in Arkansas.

By examining the label, I discovered that my treasure was made by Bartlett Yarns, a woolen mill operating in Harmony, Maine since 1821. All the wool is sourced in the USA too! Visit here: https://bartlettyarns.com/product/blankets/
As I explored the Bartlett Yarns website, I discovered wool dryer balls. If clothes are not dried outside, these little wool balls absorb moisture from clothing in the dryer, maintaining a more humid environment, thus helping get rid of static cling. In addition to reducing static, they also reduce drying time and fluff clothes. What a great idea. Please note the luscious colors too.

Why do I sleep under wool blankets and seek out wool clothing?

Breathability:
Wool’s inherent breathability and moisture-wicking properties help regulate my body temperature, keeping me cool in the summer and warm in the winter. My last TWA flight attendant uniforms were made of a year-round weight wool and proved this assertion to me during the four years we wore those uniforms.
Wool naturally has a stretch to it. Even after a full day of wear, wool fabric easily snaps back into shape, despite continuous wear and cleaning.

Natural, non-synthetic and renewable:
Wool is all natural animal fiber, surpassing synthetic fabrics in quality and durability. The sheep grow a new coat of wool every year and are not harmed during shearing. With proper care, my wool bedding can last for decades and still look great!
Additionally, wool is often produced by those living on small farms or ranches, not large corporate places.

Anti-Microbial and Anti-Bacterial:
Wool resists bacteria and is both antimicrobial and antibacterial.

Naturally Fire Resistant:
Wool is inherently fire resistant, providing a safe sleep environment without the need for chemical additives.

Women and Wool: An Ancient Connection

My awareness of the centuries of connection between women and their creation of wool textiles from sheep and goats was heightened by the time I spent on Crete. We saw clear evidence in all the sacred sites of weaving tools like loom weights to indicate that women were spinning thread and creating cloth–most likely from sheep and goats brought to the island millennia before Minoan Crete. Many scholars believe wool was the mainstay cloth created on Minoan Crete.

The ancients wore wool for all the same reasons we do today. Especially, I believe, because of its durability and breathability. If you are spinning and weaving everything you own, you want it to be comfortable and to last a long time. For fun, I found these two photos. The first is a closeup of the shaggy sheep found on Crete today. The other shows a young sheperdess, in 1955 on Crete. She is both minding her flock and, if you look carefully, you can see the drop spindle she is using with both hands to spin yarn from the fluffy bundle of wool tucked under her left arm.

The last photo shows the spinning process and looms used by Bartlett yarns as seen on their website. My foray into that New Jersey thrift shop sent me on a journey of discovery that I could not pre-plan. By following my own enthusiasms, I’ve experienced a renewal of my interest in natural fibers and the means people use to transform them into attractive textiles.

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2 Responses to Wool: The Great Thermal Insulator

  1. Lila says:

    Love this story about a blanket and the information you found!
    Very pretty dryer balls!

    • Paula says:

      It seems to me that our lives are built around stories. What catches one person’s attention may not be of interest to another. Yet, we influence each other when we share our different stories. That is one of my favorite things about quilting and quilters—our quilts are full of our stories of who, what, why, when and where. Yes, those luscious jewel tones of the wool dryer balls attracted me too.

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