Merino info guide
One could say that merino is natures gift to NZ. Evolution has designed merino to befit an alpine sheep's rugged environment, and we benefit from its amazing qualities.
New Zealands merino sheep have to survive on the freezing windswept hillsides of southland as well as endure hot summer days. So it has the remarkable ability to regulate ones temperature. It cools you down if your sweating and hot, (wicking moisture away), and warm you up in freezing conditions. Not to mention its all natural, all healthy, requires only minimal washing, and is from our own backyard.
Not all merino is created equal. It certainly isn’t and at Billi Tees we have made sure, we’ve used the softest, finest merino which has been homegrown in the high country farms of good old NZ.
Breathe-ability and temperature stability:
So what's so great about merino?
Merino is unique in its ability to keep you warm in the cold of a snowy winter and cool in the heat of a humid summer, protecting the micro climate next to skin in changing conditions by absorbing and releasing moisture. The core of a merino fibre is hydrophilic (water retaining), and is breathable, moving perspiration away from the skin so that you feel cool, fresh and dry during exertion. The breathability, or ability to dissipate perspiration, of merino fabrics brings about temperature changes where two things can happen:
1) When there is a rise in humidity in the micro climate between the skin and the merino fabric, moisture vapour is absorbed then transported and released into the air outside of the fabric, keeping you dry, reducing clamminess, and creating a noticeable drop in temperature for the wearer.
2) Conversely, if the ambient temperature should drop, moisture from the air can be absorbed by merino and converted to bound liquid, a process that produces a rise in temperature known as ‘heat of sorption’. The active ability of Merino to react to changes in one’s body temperature and the micro climate above the skin is further enhanced by Merino’s insulation capacity. Merino has the ability to insulate the wearer from extremes of cold, and also help protect the individual from excessive heat. The thermal insulation provided by a merino fabric is due to the air trapped between the fibres, and as Merino is much finer than most other textiles, it contains more air spaces, and provides greater insulation.
Merino is naturally odour reducing due to its physical and chemical structure. The ability of merino to absorb and transport moisture (sweat) away from the skin where it evaporates into the air, prevents bacteria developing and creating unpleasant body odours. Sweat itself has no odour, but if it is allowed to remain on the skin, bacteria will develop and so will body odours. Merino fibres are scaly on their surface with no charge, providing an anti-microbial environment. This means that the bacteria are not attracted to or able to penetrate the scales, like they are the smooth, positively charged surface of a synthetic fibre.
Merino fibres are strong and long, enabling a durable fabric that is less likely to pill, and has excellent drape and wrinkle recovery. As Merino fibres are natural, and like human hair are made up of keratin proteins, they are very resilient - A Merino fibre can be bent 20,000 times without breaking. When a Merino fibre is wet, it can be extended up to 30% without damage. When the extension is released, the fibre then recovers completely to its original dimensions.
Together with the breathability, moisture control and thermoregulation that Merino provides, the fine micron of Merino ensures it feels soft and comfortable next to the skin. Unlike thicker micron wools, fine Merino fibres bend with pressure against the skin, flexing so as not to affect the nerves. The natural elasticity of Merino fibres means they stretch with the wearer, and then return to their natural shape so there is less chance of the garments losing their shape.