If you are interested in the Australian Wool market, here are some interesting current facts from the AWI (Australian Wool Innovation) and The WoolMark Company.

The previous 25 years has witnessed a radical shift in the make-up of Australia’s wool clip, particularly the increasing percentage of wool produced that is less than 19.5 microns. The proportion of fine and super fine Merino wool that is less than 19.5 micron has moved from representing 11% of the clip in 1991/92 to 42% in the last complete season of 2016/17. Of most significance though, is Australia now produces an extra 53,047 tonnes of Merino wool finer than 19.5 micron compared to the season 1991/92. AWTA key test data reveals that historically in 1991/92, 817 million kgs of Australian wool was tested in total, with just 97 million Kgs of that being Merino wool finer than 19.5 micron. In 2016/17, total wool tested dropped to 357 million kilograms, but Merino wool finer than 19.5 micron has actually risen to 150 million kgs in the same period. So, although the total clip volume has reduced over the 25 years, fine wool production has seen a roughly 50% increase in volume. Today’s situation within the Australian wool markets is thankfully a positive one, as wool growers are enjoying receiving some of the best clip returns they have had in decades.

Recent developments in next to skin garments have opened new markets for fine wool. This is particularly pertinent to cater for the upsurge of Merino wool demand used in the athletic, leisure and outdoor garment markets. Not too long ago, wool was sold at auction and it was often not known to the grower where that wool went and for what purpose. The industry today is in a somewhat tailored position to take advantage of the current consumer trends and meet the growing demand for next to skin products like never before. The situation in 2017/18 is far different and should breathe optimism into industry, as consumer markets and therefore demand aligns with the unique properties of wool and its provenance.  (excerpts from AWI Market Intelligence Nov 2017).


Medical studies reveal superfine Merino wool is therapeutic for the skin

16 OCTOBER 2017, The WoolMark Company

In positive news for eczema sufferers, recently published research funded by The Woolmark Company has demonstrated that wearing superfine Merino wool next to the skin is therapeutic for those suffering from the chronic skin condition. This adds to a growing number of research findings supporting the health and wellbeing benefits of wool products.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, now affects 20% to 30% of children; its prevalence amongst adults and children varies geographically and is increasing in many countries, with sufferers having dysfunctional skin that dries out and can lead to cracked skin, bacterial infection, redness, scratching and itching.

However, dermatology trials have shown that adult and infant eczema sufferers have reduced symptoms when wearing superfine Merino wool garments next to the skin.

When worn next to skin, superfine Merino wool works as a dynamic buffer, helping maintain a more stable humidity and temperature in the micro-climate between the fabric and the skin. Wool garments are the most breathable of the common apparel types, absorbing and releasing twice as much moisture vapour as cotton and thirty times as much as polyester. It appears superfine Merino wool acts like a second skin for these people whose ‘first’ skin is too dry.

The theory that wool’s unique moisture management could benefit eczema sufferers was put to the test in a twelve-week clinical trial, which confirmed the beneficial findings of wearing superfine Merino wool garments with a mean fibre diameter less than or equal to 17.5 micron.

The Woolmark Company has also created a video explaining the therapeutic benefits of superfine Merino wool. Click here for link.

A study of approximately 40 babies and young children under 3 years old, at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne, showed significant advantages of superfine Merino wool base-layers rather than cotton in improving the symptoms of eczema.

Published in the British Journal of Dermatology in July, the study challenges generalisations that wool is to be avoided by children with eczema. The study concluded that traditional management guidelines classing all wool-based clothing as irritants should be modified to include superfine Merino wool as a recommended clothing choice in childhood atopic dermatitis.

In fact, a highly esteemed group of medical professionals from across the world has reviewed research papers published during the past 100 years to critically assess scientific studies that claimed wool causes allergy. The group has now published a paper “Debunking the Myth of Wool Allergy” with the primary conclusion there is no credible evidence wool is an allergen. It found that if a fabric does cause sensations of itch and prickle on the skin then it is because of the large diameter of the fibres and not due to the fibre type being wool.


Registrations are now open for Wool4School 2018 with amazing opportunities and prize-money for both teachers and students to win.

All teachers who register their class will receive a free resource pack for the classroom filled with fabric and yarn samples, technical information to learn about wool and other helpful resources to help your students. Teachers also have the chance to go in the running to win $1000, a Bernina sewing machine and a workshop for your students with a professional wool expert.

Lesson plans are also available online, aligned to the national curriculum, to help easily implement Wool4School into your classroom.

In 2018 students are invited to design an innovative, creative and multi-functional outfit, containing a minimum 80% Merino wool. Students are advised to think outside the box by injecting new concepts and imaginative uses into their designs, such as transforming a skirt into handbag or sweater into skirt. The outfits must contain a minimum of one piece with a maximum of four pieces. While students do not have to make their designs, they must illustrate and carefully describe the textiles used in their work.

First launched in 2012, Wool4School has involved more than 65,000 students nationwide, not only learning the fundamentals of fashion design but also exploring the benefits and versatility of wool and the fabric it creates. The 2017 competition expanded to include Year 12 students, making the competition available to high school students from years 7 to 12.

Full details, resources and lesson plans can be found on, along with details of the amazing prizes on offer for students and teachers.


My Challenge: I here by declare that for the next 30 days I am setting myself the goal of designing a 50cm x 50cm felted Natural Rhythm sampler. My aim is to create a Library of linear designs which explores the language of how lines and colour interact in felt (plus I would love the bliss of being creative everyday!) Nancy Ballesteros

If you would like to look at the blog and samples I created through this challenge please click here.


We are excited to announce the beginnings of our NEW range of Solid Colours for 2018! We love to keep on trend with some of the latest fashion colours as well as introduce colours which we are excited by.  So keep checking back, as we will be adding more colours in the next couple of months. Some of these colours will also be added to our other fibres and fabrics ranges. (Dec 2017)

Day 27 – Natural Rhythms 30-Day Library Challenge

Today I thought about doing a basic colour study looking at Simultaneous Contrast (which refers to the way in which two different colors affect each). Also looking at the way colour effects how we read line & movement. Here are several different orientations to challenge your visual perception. Can you spot the differences??? (one sample is sampler than the other for no particular reason).

Materials : Hand dye superfine Merino tops in Wasabi and Peri Peri. Silk Mesh in Red Earth (I only used a strip of the dark green area for the sample)


Day 26 – Natural Rhythms 30-Day Library Challenge

Feeling organic and earthy today. Stringy bark? (yes trees again!)…. or rock strata at Karijini National Park, Western Australia?….Stripey enough to be in this library collection? The surface is nearly all Silk Hankies.

Maybe this way around?

Materials: SIlk Hankies – Tarnish, Tumeric, Red Dog, Kalamatta, Linen. Hand dyed superfine Merino tops – LInen, Tumeric, Henna, Red Dog, Riverstone, new Coral


Day 25 – Natural Rhythms 30-Day Library Challenge

Layering fabrics to create blocks of colour, plus working on a different type of stripe structure. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to balance all the aspects of this sample without being too structured. Wondering if I achieved it?

Back of sample:

Materials: Tissue Silk Fabric in Blue Jean, Silk Mesh Fabric in Blue Jean. Colour Nuance superfine Merino wool tops in Royal Indigo, Blue Jay, Celery, Sea Spray, Moss. Hand dyed superfine Merino tops in Tarnish, Stormy Blue.


Day 24 – Natural Rhythms 30-Day Library Challenge

I’m trying to keep my energies going, so working with brights today! I think I might have to admit to being a closet quilter… playing with colour and structure, yum yum! I do like the serendipity that felting brings to the quilting structure. However, my technique still needs refining. I could have easily made this sample with an all wool background with the fabric on top of the wool, but I wanted something more light and flowing, therefore some of the stripes are just in Paj Silk fabric and some are in wool.

Back of sample:

Materials: Paj Silk Fabric: Frankie, Lantana, Spice Market. Hand dyed superfine Merino Colour Harmonies: Troppo!, Lantana. Hand dyed superfine Merino: Peri Peri, Merlot, Midnight Blue, Slate.


Day 23 – Natural Rhythms 30-Day Library Challenge

I am forever designing trees and fences, not sure which one this is…. Playing with simple bold designs hoping the structure of the lines make it work. Maybe these cross-over into “lines” not “stripes” – what do you think? Back is interesting, the Silk Mesh gives it lots of lustre, definition and great drape.

Back of sample:

Detail of sample:

Materials: Silk Mesh fabric in Rhythm ‘n Blues. Colour Nuance superfine Merino wool tops in Royal Indigo. Hand-dyed in Ruby Red Dress.