This is a question we get asked occasionally. Many people seem to know that wool makes a quality rug, just like it does in a broadloom carpet. But why is this and what makes wool the yarn of choice.

To answer this question, we need to look at many different factors, not only the aspects of the yarn itself but also the Ecological side and the industrial aspect, even how weaving of wool rugs helps basic survival.

 Firstly, if we look at the yarn itself. Wool has many natural advantages over many manmade fibres and other natural yarns.

It's natural, this is an easy one.
Wool is a by-product of our humble sheep. Sheep need to keep warm so they grow a wonderful woollen fleece. Basically, whilst the globe houses sheep we will have wool.

Its breathable.
Wool fibres are naturally breathable, absorbing and evaporating moisture, this helping to air the fibre and keeping smells and odours at bay.

Self-regulating.
Wool adjusts itself to its environment, keeping a comfortable temperature by absorb and desorb heat and humidity. This helps keep your rugs temperature by dispersing heat and locking in heat when in a colder environment. This makes sure your rug is at a constant temperature all year round.

 It's fire-resistant and hypoallergenic

Wool is naturally fire-resistant, it requires more oxygen than is available in the air to become flammable, with an ignition temperature of around 600c. Wool will smoulder slowly and will not melt or drip like many other fibres. This making wool ideal as a fireside rug with an open fire.
Wool is also hypoallergenic, the yarn acts as a natural air filter, absorbing volatile organic compounds or VOCs in your home environment.

It’s self-cleaning

As we mentioned earlier wool evaporates moisture, thecreatine in the wool naturally breaks down any bad smelling bacteria. As we agitate the yarn by walking on it the natural spring-back properties pushes dirt and smells outwards preventing dirt / odour from working its way to the base of the pile.
Wool is also naturally anti-static, this stops dirt and over fibres been drawn to the rug or carpet.

Hard-wearing

Wool has excellent spring-back and resilience, which means it will recover quickly from pressure and from any indentations. It continually resists flattening and damage from stretching and pulling, reducing wear and preventing creasing and damage. Wool can bend well over 10,000 times before it breaks, compare this to cotton at around 3000 times and viscose around 70 times.
Wool is made up of what is called a none continuous filament fibre. Meaning it is spun from short fibres which are blended together. This is why wool will shed when new. Carpet manufacture often blend manmade yarns like nylon to wool, this helps reduce shedding and adds strength. This is why 80/20 carpet is often woven. Unfortunately, many rugs are 100% wool so shedding is part of the characteristic of wool rugs.

Eco-Friendly

Wool is natural and organic, it will rot and break down over time, this making it environmentally friendly.  Wool is often recycled once it’s severed its purpose. Common uses after recycling include use in Underlays, Blankets, mattress padding, sound insulation and other insulation uses.

Sustainable

Wool is plant friendly, over  50% of the weight of wool is carbon. The manufactures of wool are sheep, the use of fossil fuel burning factories are not needed. All that is needed is our humble sheep and a field.
Handmade woollen rugs made in areas like Tibet, Afghanistan and Mongolia are often woven by nomads. These nomads herd the sheep, spin and dye the yarns and weave the rugs in tents called Yurts. The rugs are then traded for items like food and clothing.

Some facts on British wool

  1. There are over 15 million sheep in the UK
  2. On average over 2kg of wool is produced per fleece
  3. There are over 60 different breeds of sheep in the UK
  4. There are over 40 thousand wool producing farms in the UK
  5. Sheep were thought to of been introduced to the UK in 4000 BC by Neolithic settlers.
  6. Sheep are shorn every 12 months usually in spring.
  7. The UK along with New Zealand have perfect climates for wool production.

As you can see wool has many advantages over manmade fibres, there are many more than we have mentioned. We hope this information helps you decide on buying a wool rug.

To view our wool rugs please see our wool rug category.

This article is written by Christopher Bond, owner of The Rug Retailer