Firstly, what is a micron? A micron is the measurement used to express the diameter of wool fiber. That saying, the lower the micron count, the finer the wool. That doesn’t always mean that the wool will be very soft. That will depend on the breed. Merino is considered the softest of the sheep breeds and it goes without saying (too much) that the lower the micron count for Merino wool, the softer you would expect it to be. Also, the lower microns are easier to migrate through fabric. Most people that felt wearables use merino wool in a lower micron count, especially for nuno felted items, but you don’t really have to. Since I have been making hats, I tend to buy the 23mic merino from World of Wool. The prices are reasonable and it comes in a huge variety of colors, more than for the 18.5 mic extra fine. If you want a sturdy hat, this is what I use and it is mostly what I have in my stock before I started making scarves and learning more about the wool. However, I have made very soft scarves from 23mic. It just depends on how you lay it out and how hard you felt it.
As I mentioned in the other frilly scarf posts, I have a large amount of reds and corals and pink in the 19mic merino I purchased from DHG when they had a sale in February. The frilly scarf was an experiment that led to perfecting the technique while using different microns of merino wool. You can read about these, here, here, and here!
I may have re-started a trend as others are now posting their frilly scarves on Facebook! There are many ways to make these. I have shared as much information now that I am willing to. If you can’t work out from my posts and layout and comments on Facebook, then I am afraid you will have to figure it out by yourself, like I did. I have made them lacy and I have made them more dense. I love them all.
So what is the difference between felting the different microns? There are a few, but most are negligible. The lower micron is slightly softer, felts a little bit faster and drapes a little bit better and weighs less. To be fair, I have not measured out how much wool to use. I usually never do. I go by eye and feel as I have now learned to lay out the wool so fine. I have been asked about the micron count making a difference on the softness. Well, as merino is the softest sheep’s wool, and I have sensitive skin, if it doesn’t irritate me, I am good. I only used to wear acrylic, cashmere or silk scarves as I can get a rash from itchy wool. I can wear any of these scarves I made with no issues. Each one is well felted in the center, where it matters most. The layout is really thin. Yes, you will notice a difference in the feel, but I have closed my eyes and the feel of them is not that different to be considerably noticeable. The 19mic is softer than the 23mic, but not by much. The last green scarf I completed yesterday is mostly 23mic merino as I ran out of my color as the final layout stage and needed to us 21mic to finish off. That is not next to the skin (unless you wear it reversed). It took the longest to complete as I needed to be careful working the edges as I laid it out so fine.
Here you can see through to the tablecloth.
I used up the last of my bright green! I have just enough left to make a brooch. I am calling this one Citrus Candy. The scarf is actually a brighter green than this. My phone must think it is too bright as it tries to tone it down!
Here is a close-up while still damp. I love the pink sari silk fibers! This scarf ended up a bit longer than the others even though they all started out the same length, though I did try and make them more narrow as I progressed. I quite like the style of this one the best. I shall be making more of these as I am enjoying myself considerably. However, I am pausing as I want to make pods for the garden.
As an aside, Wingham Wool Work is having a competition to win one of three prizes. If you enter, you will be given a discount code to spend on merino and it is valid until the 17th of June. Although I have not purchased merino from them before, they sell merino with a micron count of 21. World of Wool sell 23 and 18.5 microns, 21 and 14.5mic in natural only, and DHG sell 21 and 19 microns. DHG are discontinuing some of their merino stock and those are on sale from 20%. There are lots of choices here. I like to compare prices and it also depends on what I need.