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What Kind of Wool in Suits and Jackets?

Roger

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OK. Let me try one last time with this by making my earlier question less convoluted. Is the wool we find in suits, for example (and ignoring yarn numbers, blends, etc.), the wool of mature sheep or that of lambs, lambswool? Or is it usually one, with the other only occasionally?
 

Manton

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It is usually mature sheep. Lambswool commands a premium and will be designated as such.

Of course, there are sheep and then there are sheep.

In the spirit of that Olympic-level spammer FNB, I link to one of my articles which may shed some light on the matter:

http://www.american.com/archive/2007...er-super-wool/
 

Roger

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Very helpful, Manton. Thank you. While you're handy, may I pose a few more questions? First, is lambswool generally finer (and therefore, of a higher yarn number) than mature sheep wool? Would a 150s lambswool be virtually identical to a 150s mature sheep wool? Is there any feature of lambswool in a suit (apart from its softness) that distinguishes it from wool from a mature sheep? Oh, one last one: when we see a wool designated as 180s, say, is it understood that it is from a mature Merino sheep, or could it be lambswool?
 

Manton

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Merino is a breed, originally Spanish, which thrives in Australia (and elsewhere, but nearly all fine suiting wool comes from Oz). So both lambswool and regular wool can come from Merino sheep.

I think that two things distinguish lambswool. First is the very high natural level of lanolin, a level that drops as the animals age and their coats are exposed to the air longer. A lot of the lanolin is removed in the scouring process, but some remains. The lanolin makes the fibers extremely soft. (It also makes the finished cloth prone to stain. Bascially, it is an oil embedded in the cloth, and when food particles or whatever touch it, they stick to it.)

Second, lambswool fibers are not that long. Hence it is harder to make a very long, strong yarn with it. I think that most lambswool ends up in sweaters and knits, and not as cloth for tailoring. I am nearly certain that is never made as a suiting. At least I don't recall seeing that. As a jacketing it is very delicate. I doubt it could stand up as a trouser.
 

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