Wool ComfortMeterPhoto: Wool ComfortMeterThe comfort of wool garments is a key feature of customer satisfaction, especially fornext-to-skin wool garments. Poor perceptions of comfort mean buyers are less likely tochoose wool garments again.Lack of comfort, also described as ‘prickle’, occurs when the ends of some wool fibrespush against the wearer’s skin, resulting in nerve endings in the skin being stimulated.The wearer can become irritated by this and feel itchy.The belief that many people are allergic to wool because it makes them itch is not true.It is extremely rare for anyone to suffer an allergic reaction to wool; instead, people thatthink they are allergic to wool are feeling a physical reaction to the fibres poking theirskin.Whether fibres in garments push against the skin depends on many things including:1. The thickness or fibre diameter of the wool fibres in the garment.2. The fabric construction and finish (e.g. pique versus jersey knit).Finer, thinner wool fibres bend more easily than thicker fibres. Instead of pushingagainst the skin, they simply bend and buckle when the garment comes in contact withskin.Fabrics will vary in the amount of fibres that protrude. The more fibres sticking out, themore likely the fabric will cause discomfort. However the length of protruding fibres alsoaffects comfort. Longer fibres have more opportunity to bend when pressed againstskin, whereas shorter fibres are more likely to push into the skin causing an itchysensation.Other factors also affect garment comfort. Some people are more sensitive than othersand higher temperature and humidity make the wearer’s skin more sensitive(particularly while they are exercising).The Sheep CRC has developed a Wool ComfortMeter™ that can provide an objectivemeasure of the predicted comfort of a fabric. The meter will be used in the wool supplychain for uses such as product development, quality assurance and quality control.Potential Benefits:Known levels of next-to-skin comfort for garments that meet consumer expectations,with the opportunity to link these to price points and product end use;Minimum standards to assure next to skin comfort;Consistent next to skin comfort through monitoring of product lines.