Wool is a material we know well; grown on different variety of sheep, they are shorn in the warmer spring months and their fleece spun and then used to create amazing products, from snuggly warm blankets, to duvets and wool rugs.
And wool is the perfect material for rugs in so many ways and here’s why…
1. First and foremost, wool is incredibly strong
Fabrics undergo ‘rub tests’ to test their durability; simple in its design, the rub test notes how many rubs, twists and turns a piece of fibre will withstand, before it breaks. A single wool fibre can withstand 10,000 bends before it breaks and so walking on it, does not present too much of a problem. Wool also bends easily and this malleability means it is not easily broken either.
Compare this to other materials and you will see why wool is the favoured option by many for rugs: silk, another natural fibre, can only withstand 2,400 ‘bends’ or rubs before it breaks, with synthetic or man-made fibres faring far less well. Viscose, often marketed as man-made silk, can only withstand 70 bends before it breaks, clearly a poor material for using in a rug.
2. Wool can be dyed…
… but if you think the colours are boring, think again! Technology and dyes have comes a long way and wool can now be coloured with many different vibrant and exciting colours and shades. It is also a fibre that holds on to dye well and also have a glowing, healthy shine to it.
There is something about wool that makes a room feel alive; as it is a natural product, it brings with it a sense of opulence too and the fact that it can now be dyed, more and more people are leaving behind the gaudy colours of the synthetic fibres and moving to more natural, organic materials – like wool.
3. Great natural properties
How many fabrics and materials do you know of that are naturally fire retardant and stain repellent? Not many but wool is one of them!
Wool doesn’t support a burning flame, and neither can the flame spread and so it simply extinguished; synthetic fibres can melt or burn ferociously, as well as give off noxious fumes hence the adage that it’s the smoke that kills you, not the fire.
Wool is also not a material that readily soaks up moisture and so anything that is spilt on it will, for a time, pool on the surface and, if you are quick enough, you can blot this spill so that it does not stain. Perfect for a busy family home!
4. Wool gets better with age
Again, there are no synthetic fibres that you can say, hand on heart, look better with every day that passes but wool, as a natural material, become more beautiful as each day passes.
And so the next time you see a synthetic rug advertised as a cheap price, consider the purchase for a second. It will stain and possibly melt or give off nasty fumes should it ever catch alight; it will wear thin, as well as looking tired and worn within a few months or years. But wool ages gracefully; it holds it shapes and repels stains. It can be cleaned easily too even thought people think it will shrink. It has a timeless elegance to it that no other material has.
5. Wool is from a sustainable source
The 21st century brings many pros and cons to it. For a start, we all need to be more aware and conscious of our impact on the earth and its scarce resources. Raised in the countryside, the sheep is not harmed when they are shorn; they go back out on the pastures, no worse the wear (or cold!) form not having their fluffy coats. Once the chill of winter has passed, the coat can go.
Consider how some synthetic fibres are made; you will find that somewhere there will be plastic and this is made from oil. A non-renewable resource, the days of oil are numbered.
But, there may be one drawback with wool – and to find it, we had to think really hard about this. But wool is not just attractive to us humans; with great insulating properties, you may find that any household pets are drawn to it too. Not only warm to lie and walk on, wool has a natural ‘smell’, possible undetectable to our primitive noses, but the sensitive noses of cats and dogs, wool smells divine. It oozes appeal and it begs them to come and lie on it.
Rich, opulent and attractive are just three words that we can think describes the qualities of wool. Robust too, a wool rug, cared for properly can last for a very, very long time – what fantastic heirloom to pass from one generation to another!
* Find out more about the amazing qualities and characteristics of wool, an important industry here in the UK http://www.worldofwool.co.uk/know.php *