I find that often, merino fibre being sold in online shops by well-meaning crafts persons is incorrectly described.
This is disappointing as if you are going to take the trouble to prepare, hand dye and/or otherwise work with this wondrous natural fibre, I would hope that some time was also taken to learn a little about the fibre's properties, including its correct description. It is also misleading for the uniformed customer : if you think you are buying "fine merino wool tops" further described in small print as 22 micron, this actually places the fibre in the medium category of merino fibre, not fine at all! This consequent mis-information is often then perpetuated in the decriptions of finished articles.
Most of the merino fibre for sale on-line in Australia at present seems to lie in the Medium to Strong class. Descriptors such as fine and fine merino fleece/wool/wool top should not be used unless the fibre fits within the appropriate fibre type (see below) and the seller has proof of the measurement or the fibre has been purchased from a reputable wool merchant or producer.
The "fineness" does not describe "how it feels" for example, when compared with silk or other fibres, but is a class of measurement which is part of the indicative profile of adult sheep fleece wool and part of the proscribed way of descibing fleece fibres when preparing them for processing, sale, competition etc. The CSISO's Objective Measurement of Wool will help you understand how this works.
Merino wool is generally less than 24 micron (µm) in diameter.
Crossbred and most other recognised breeds of sheep typically produce fibre from 24 to 36µm.
Carpet wool sheep produce fibre in excess of 36 µm.
Merino fibre types are as follows:
- Ultra Fine 11.5–15 µm
- Superfine 15–18.5 µm
- Fine 18.6–19.5 µm
- Medium wool is 19.6–22.9 µm
- Strong (broad) wool 23–24.5 µm
The Lucky Ewe @ Oatlands Handmade specialises in Superfine Merino fleece and fibre. That is, merino fibre which has been objectively measured at between 15 and 18.5 µm.
We also have some Fine Merino fibre and yarns.
All our merino fibre is clearly marked as to micron measurement and CSIRO/AWEX descriptors are used.
There's some really good, simple explanations for often-asked question here for those interested in the production and especially the marketing of wool.