Yesterday we talked about the marvels of sheeps wool, and how its microsopic scales (image above) help make it one of nature’s warmer fibres. We also mentioned how super fine merino is bred so its scales are tiny enough not to become a skin irritant.
The same scales that make coarser wool prickly also result in some friction between fibres, will can lead to felting, a form of shrinkage due to fibres matting up. Some wool processing uses chlorine washing to reduce the effect of scales on shrinking and prickling. But a new process by a Canadian company is said to use electricity to zap their wool, instead of water and chemical intensive baths.Backpacker magazine reported a few weeks ago that Richter International of Toronto were using such a process in the production of their socks. Apparently the use of electricity negates the need for the chlorinated water baths. Which is possibly why the process was developed, because such polluted water otherwise becomes an expensive industrial waste problem.
The blog report also indicates that although Richter International still use water for dyeing their wool, it is reused multiple times, before being cleaned to such a degree that it finally ends up in their company fish tank. All up, their new process is said to use about 1/10th the water of a normal wool treatment process.
We have a bit of web trawl, since first noticing the report, to see if more information was available, but to little avail. However we did discover that Richter International are certainly big into socks and hosiery, managing brands such as Roots and Biocotton. The latter are made of organic cotton, and sold with recycled wrappers and hangers.
Image credit: Down Under Wool