What an incredibly silly question - what are jumpers made of? Come on, we all know they are made of lovely natural fibres like Merino Wool, Possum Merino, Silk, Alpaca, Cotton and Cashmere, right? Sorry hate to burst your bubble but...
In 1941 Dupont created the first acrylic fibers and trademarked them under the name Orlon. It was warm and strong and resembled wool so vast quantities of clothing were produced over the following decades. We won't even go into the process to make acrylic because it contains such big words as free radical polymerisation, , dissolving polymers in solvents such as aqueous sodium thiocyanate or N,N-dimethylformamide. But needless to say these items of clothing don't break down - well not any time soon.
Doesn't this look just so warm and snuggly?
As a synthetic fabric, acrylic is not something that comes from the natural world. Instead, acrylic fabric produced artificially through a synthetic polymer known as acrylonitrile. Acrylonitrile is derived from petroleum or coal-based chemicals and synthesized to make acrylic resin pellets.
Then there is polyester - polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It is made by mixing ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. So, very basically, Polyester is a plastic. Sounds so comfy doesn't it?
A team at Plymouth University in the UK spent 12 months analyzing what happened when a number of synthetic materials were washed at different temperatures in domestic washing machines, using different combinations of detergents, to quantify the microfibres shed. They found that acrylic was responsible for releasing nearly 730,000 tiny synthetic particles (microplastics) per wash, five times more than polyester-cotton blend fabric, and nearly 1.5 times as many as pure polyester. That is utterly horrendous.
Have we blown your mind yet? Or just bored you witless? (It's ok to admit it we don't mind) The world is coming to a realisation that we have only one planet (I know - it boggles the mind) and if we ruin this one we are sort of out of luck and alternate options. So, the call going up around the planet is - go natural, go sustainable, reduce our carbon footprint, reuse and start to clean up the mess we have already made.
Here at Jumpers Taupo we relish the fact that our knitwear is natural, sustainable and quality New Zealand made products. Now there's an argument for shopping with us if ever there was one.
What we call an 'Itchy Scratchy'.
There was an upside to all this in that modern technology didn't just create new fibres it also allowed our natural and sustainable fibres to be better developed and finer spinning meant that no longer did we have 'itchy scratchy' wool. Royal Merino has a Supersoft Extra Fine Merino blend that is truly amazing! It is so soft it can be worn directly on the skin and you won't itch! For the people who are allergic to wool (actually it is the lanolin in the wool that causes the allergic responses) they still have to stay away from wool but some people who were sensitive to wool in the past are now able to wear the super soft and fine wools of today and have no trouble. (We firmly suggest you do exposure tests first of course)
Plus there is also Alpaca for the people with allergies - Alpaca has no lanolin so no allergic reaction! You never saw an Alpaca with a rash or itching did you?
Soft, cuddly and non itchy Alpacas
I, the author of this article, still remember as a child here in New Zealand the jumpers we all wore - itchy, scratchy and downright uncomfortable! Ponchos crocheted in wool that could leave pash rashes! (Do you remember those)
But then the natural fibres became more developed and better and then slowly filtered into NZ and we got soft jumpers! What a complete revelation that was. We could be warm and not behave like we had permanent scabies. Merino, Possum fibre, Possum Merino, Alpaca, Cotton and Silk became the better fibres again and were softer and snugglier (is that even a word?) and we are so pleased and we no longer scratch.
Possum Merino softness and snuggliness.