13 June 2018
It’s not a secret to many that New Zealand is known for its sheep. We could once claim 22 sheep for every person in New Zealand, now that’s been shorn down to fewer than six. Sheep still play a vital role in New Zealand’s economy and culture, and in a world of synthetic fibres, New Zealand wool is pretty hard to beat for quality. As a natural and renewable fibre, the technical characteristics of wool are unmatched. It’s durable, breathable, insulating and versatile.
Woollen products will keep you protected from the elements as wool acclimatises to the surroundings. It is also known for its safer qualities, with a higher ignition threshold than other fibres and has naturally high UV protection.
New Zealand is particularly renowned for its Merino product, a resilient breed of sheep that thrives in New Zealand’s South Island high country, producing soft, fine wool that keeps the animal cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Due to the wool’s anti-bacterial properties and its ability to absorb moisture while still insulating; merino garments will remain fresh and odour-free for days, whether you’re walking the streets of a city in a suit or a dress, or if you’re off adventuring in the great outdoors.
Merino can be blended with possum fur, and while possums are a protected species in Australia, they’re a huge pest in New Zealand so there’s plenty of the natural fur to go around. New Zealand is also home to a thriving alpaca industry. Alpaca fibre is soft against the skin so makes fantastic garment and homeware products. To complete the experience, there are some great Alpaca farms to visit across the country where you can pick up goods made from the very alpacas you’re visiting.
The applications of wool are widespread, from clothing and accessories, such as suits, jerseys, socks and scarves, to homeware such as duvets, throws, blankets, rugs, carpet and home insulation. One trend that started sweeping the world last year was ‘extreme knitting’, why knit with ordinary wool yarn when you can supersize with oversized yarn and giant knitting needles? The chunky knit pieces have been worn by celebrities across the globe and Kiwis were at the forefront of the movement.
So bundle up and accessorise with New Zealand wool. There are some great Kiwis out there doing great things with the wool that nature has provided. Look out for the Kiwi trademark on woollen products to identify the products that have been manufactured in New Zealand, for fully authentic New Zealand Made items.
First published in Our New Zealand Autumn 2018