Familiar to knitters because it is common in commercial knitting yarns, Fine wool is soft enough to be worn next to the skin. Softness is Fine wool’s best quality, but it is also very elastic, has excellent memory and felts exceptionally well. Most Fine wools are matte in appearance and dye well, but not brilliantly.
The weakness in Fine wools...is weakness. Because it is so fine, it doesn’t take much stress or abrasion to create a break in the fiber. This can happen as the fleece is growing (stress or illness results in a weak spot as the fiber emerges from the follicle), from weather, or in use as a finished product or garment (pilling or wear). Note to spinners: examine (snap test) fleeces carefully for breaks and weakness before buying.
On the sheep: the length of staple is generally short (two to four inches in one year’s growth). The tiny (11 per inch or more), even crimp is consistent along the whole length of the fiber base to tip and across the whole body of the sheep shoulder to back end. Between different Fine wool breeds and even between different types of Merino sheep there is a wide range of fiber diameter: “ultra fine” up to “strong,” micron counts from 12 (rare) up to 26 are all called Fine, with the majority of the Merino we experience in yarn or clothes in the 20 to 25 micron range.
Choose this type of wool for the softest, finest garments like dress shawls and scarves, baby wear, undergarments etc to be worn next to sensitive skin like neck or torso. If the end use needs harder wear, like socks, play clothes or outerwear, please consider a stronger type of wool, or at least add more structure to the yarn (spin tighter twist yarns with more plys), or project (knit at a tighter gauge or weave with a tighter sett).