Merino Wool - The King of Fibers

Since the Middle Ages, Merino wool has been heralded as the King of Fibers. 

Merino Sheep with crown

Its origin is the Merino sheep, whose heritage is greatly debated, with many countries claiming the original breed. However, the truth seems to lie in the cross-breeding of the Berber sheep of Northern Africa which produced a very small, fine and extremely soft fiber, with the Merino sheep of Spain which produced massive volumes of a much coarser wool. The result of the cross-breeding was a much sought-after fiber for the finest and best clothing of the royals of the middle ages; quite a glorious ending to what for thousands of years was worn by shepherds of both the deserts and mountains of Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Ultimately in high demand, the very fine Merino wool sheep were exported all over the world. Today, most Merino wool is produced in Australia and New Zealand.

Merino wool earned its title as the King of Fibers because of its remarkable versatility. It can be woven into a very fine, almost gauze-like cloth for wear in very hot climates. Because it wicks moisture away from the body, it is cooling in heat. It can be woven into a heavier weave so that the air space between the fibers acts as insulation, holding body heat to keep the wearer warm when the temperature drops. The unusual nature of being both cooling and insulating made it a highly functioning fabric for desert wear.

In recent times, Merino wool has come into high demand for modern clothing. It is antimicrobial, anti wrinkle, both insulating and moisture wicking (cooling), depending on weather and body heat, and it repels water due to the natural lanolin content of the wool. It is flexible and durable with the ability to bend back and forth 20,000 times before breaking. By comparison, cotton will break after a mere 3,000 bends.

Merino Wool

Because the wool is moisture wicking, it self-regulates the amount of moisture it retains. This prevents the mold, mildew, and bacterial growth that results in odors that infiltrate and ruin fabric.

The result is that Merino wool remains fresh and clean much longer than other fibers.

Wool is completely biodegradable and will fully break down to compost within 3-4 months, adding its component nutrients of sulfur, nitrogen and magnesium back into the soil. This makes it a natural slow release fertilizer for the soil. Unlike synthetic fabrics, it need never go into landfill nor does it produce microfiber waste. It can be fully recycled by a simple process of shredding and spinning the fibers into fresh yarn, to then be woven into new woolen fabrics with zero waste!

Wool spinning into yarn

To top it all off, new studies are showing that Merino wool has a healing effect on patients with eczema. The softness of the fiber results in a lack of skin irritation, and the natural lanolin provides a soothing effect for the skin.

All of these reasons provide much incentive to appreciate Merino wool. It is no wonder that it is known as the King of Fibers! 

Don’t just take our word for it… experience it for yourself with one of our Merino Wool Beanies.


  • what a beautiful photo! what a delight to learn about this loved fiber! i have another level now to the sheer delight i get from my
    colorful merino wool SOCKS! Thank you!

  • You have always been a trusted researcher I can trust about every product you find to share. My heart yearns to have a fully ecological New Earth! In fact every time I enter your site I feel I’m there. From someone who is also rebuilding New Earth to benefit everyone & the GAIA planet. Kudos! Namaste.

    Suni Nelson
  • Thanks for this informative article on the qualities of Merino wool. Along with hemp, bamboo, and Manuka honey, nature provides a bountiful array of options for clothing, housing, food/nutrition, medicines, etc. Thank you, Planet Joy, for raising awareness of this wondrous natural bounty.

    Christian de Quincey

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