Not such a simple question.
A seemingly simple question but in a world where fast fashion puts increasing demands on the textile industry, it’s a question which should be asked to increase awareness of the qualities of such a wonderfully sustainable and creative material.
Wool is a protein fibre because it comes from an animal (think meat, think protein). Fibres such as cotton and linen are cellulose fibres as these come from plants.
Wool is a natural product and its qualities vary depending on its source, such as the breed and characteristics of the animal, it’s environment, the land on which it grazes and the management and care it receives.
Wool has properties which help regulate the body temperature of the wearer. It warms the body when it is cold and cools the body when it gets too warm which is always a bit of a surprise for many people. In addition it requires less cleaning than many made-made textiles. Not only does it come in a variety of natural colours, wool generally takes dye well and this give rise to a wealth of possible colour combinations and appearances.
Whilst wool is a familiar material to most people world-wide it has great creative potential, as felt-makers, textile designers and artists begin to explore the material in new and exciting ways. Once removed from the animal and in its natural form it is soft, easily pulled apart and takes up a considerable amount of space as well as needing a lot of preparation before it is ready for further processes.
When the wool has been spun into yarns or made into felt it changes its appearance, strength and its suitability for a whole host of uses, functional, utility, decorative, creative and emotional. Wool serves many needs for people and their cultures globally, today, yesterday and tomorrow.