An Australian breed of sheep which forms a part of the Merino breeds group. Suited to thrive in Australia’s environment, the Australian Merino account for half of the national sheep flock. Australia is the largest producer of Merino Wool in the world, exporting primarily to China and Europe.
The Australian Merino Wool fibre is notably fine, which characterises its softness.
Carding is a mechanical process that disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibres to produce a continuous web suitable for subsequent processing. Wire teeth on opposing combs separate the fibres, spreading them into a web. This is to remove any short or broken fibres and impurities. The web is then condensed into a continuous untwisted strand of fibres called a sliver.
Carded fibres are generally preferred for producing woollen (lambswool) yarns and fabrics.
Circular Knitting - Fabric Knitting
Circular Knitting machines produce large quantities of consistent knitted fabric. The fabric exits the machine on large rolls, which are later unrolled and layered over itself before being cut for garment patterns.
This process is referred to as ‘cut and sew’, as the knitted fabric is cut into each pattern before being sewn together to produce the final garment.
The technique whereby fibres are passed through a series of straight, metal teeth to lay fibres parallel to one another. Fibres are then placed together in a long line which is then used to spin a smooth, even thread. Here, short fibres and tangles (called ‘noil’) are removed.
Combed fibres are cleaner, finer, stronger and more lustrous than carded ones. They are generally used to produce worsted yarns and fabrics.
The wavy texture visible in wool is the crimp. This makes wool soft and springy to the touch, and can contribute to softness, drape, and insulative properties.
Fully Fashioned Knitting - Piece Knitting
This knitting technique creates individual components of a knitted garment in the required shape and size. Different stitches and techniques form exacting shapes in a near zero-waste process. Modern electronic knitting machines are programmed with each garment’s specifications, completing each panel as required for the whole garment. To finish, the knitted pieces are linked together.
This is the wool as it is shorn from the sheep. Lanolin secretes from the skin to protect and nourish the sheep, coating the wool in a greasy texture. Once shorn, greasy wool is pressed into bales before being passed onto a scouring facility. Lanolin is removed from the wool and sold to produce items, including cosmetics.
Wool is not an allergen. Irritation some wearers feel is a result of the fibre coarseness and its texture on the skin.
Knitting is a series of connected loops which stretch in all directions.
Once the components of a knitted garment are complete on a fully fashioned knitting machine, a Linking process is employed to attach the pieces together. A skilled operator on a specialist linking machine passes a thread through two garment pieces and unites them. There is no cutting or wasted fabric in this process.
The reflective qualities of light on the wool fibre. Lustre affects the vibrancy of a dyed colour and overall garment sheen. Toorallie prioritises clean, white, and light reflective wools which will carry through to the finished garment.
From our very first merino sheep stud to the specialist international factories we work with today, we have always engaged with the experts of the wool industry. We only work with suppliers and partners who meet our standards of care, transparency, and land, animal and community welfare.
Our Merino Wool is Responsible Wool Standard certified, and our relationships with our wool partners are founded on integrity and a mutual commitment to sustainable land management practices and welfare for all.
The diameter measurement of a fibre. One micron (μm) is one millionths of a metre. The softness of the material is determined by how fine the micron is. Prickly or itchy wool is due to larger diameter wool, usually greater than 21 micron.
Merino Wool has a characteristically fine micron. Toorallie uses Superfine merino yarn measuring 17.5μm for skin contact garments (such as our Merino Tee’s or Loungewear). Fine merino yarns measuring 19.5μm are preferred for Toorallie jumpers and outerwear.
Pilling is the result of wool fibres escaping the yarn thread and forming small balls or fuzz on the surface of the fabric. Common causes are excessively short fibres in the greasy wool which, when turned into yarn, may easily escape the yarn’s twist. Other factors, such as the amount of twist applied to yarn, the knitted fabric tension, knitted texture (such as complicated stitches or cables which in turn may increase surface area and expose the yarns’ surface), and dyeing errors which may fracture the fibres are all common causes of pilling.
Toorallie is constantly refining and testing our yarn and knitting processes to reduce pilling. All Toorallie garments are guaranteed in case of pilling.
Responsible Wool Standards (RWS)
The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) is a Textile Exchange initiative which is a non-profit global entity driving change in the fashion and textile industries. Focusing on animal welfare, land management,and social requirements, RWS is an industry tool to recognise best farming practices. RWS is an accreditation relevant to wool farmers, sellers, and apparel businesses.
In practice, the RWS ensures wool used in Toorallie garments is sourced from farms with progressive land and sheep management processes. Toorallie prioritises partnerships with RWS certified farms and manufacturers.
The mechanical process of washing wool to remove grease (lanolin), dirt and other impurities from the fleece once it’s been shorn. This is the first step in yarn production.
Sheep shearing is the process by which the woollen fleece is cut off by a shearer. Adult sheep are typically shorn once a year with each fleece weighing approximately 5-7kg.
A twisting technique which creates yarn from fibres. After combing or carding, the wool fibre is drawn out to reduce its thickness. From here, a predetermined amount of twist is added to increase the yarn strength. 2 singles yarns are then twisted together to produce a 2-ply yarn.
The staple length is used to measure the fibre length of the wool – the ideal length depends on the intended use of the wool. A staple of wool is a cluster of fibres, rather than a single fibre.
Short fibres can be problematic for knitwear as the fibres which do not lock into the yarn may result in pilling. Toorallie finds a reasonably long staple length of 65-78mm allows the yarn to bend and produce resilient knitwear.
Within the fleece to fibre context sustainability refers to practices such as land management, animal and community welfare, design intention and garment production which actively seek to lessen environmental decay.
Wool is one of the most sustainable natural fibres available. Merino wool is renewable and biodegradable, defined as an inherently circular resource that does not contribute to pollution.
Toorallie upholds our commitment to responsible and sustainable practices across our entire supply chain. From the offset of our design process we keep the lifecycle of the garment in focus: designing with intention and longevity. We abide by an ethos of resourcefulness where packaging is used only as necessary and is reused repeatedly. We have eliminated single-use plastic from our studios, factories, and store. We are continually revising and updating our sustainability measures, seeking better materials, processes, and practices as part of an ongoing and intrinsic investment in our environment.
After knitting and linking the components of a whole garment together, it is washed and dried to set its dimensional stability. Softeners and other chemicals may be added to change a garment's properties (such as, artificially making a garment softer than it is). Toorallie does not add any treatments at this final stage: we simply wash and dry the garment to set and stabilise the finished garment, ultimately maintaining the integrity of the material and resembling its long-term look and feel.
Woven fabrics comprise of intersecting threads – the length wise warp is held under tension, whilst the transverse weft is drawn through the wrap. Often woven fabrics are rigid unless some stretch yarn (such as spandex) is included in the warpor weft.
Worsted and Woollen
Worsted and woollen yarns vary in their manufacturing process, resulting in different garments. Woollen yarns are produced with short-staple wool (35-50mm), resulting in a generally bulkier fabric and fuzzier surface appearance. Worsted yarns require a longer staple length (65-78mm), and undergo more spinning steps with the aim to make the fibres in the yarn parallel and uniform. When woven or knitted, the fabric surface is flat, smooth, with a higher shine due to the uniform yarn structure. Both worsted and woollen yarns are soft to the touch.
The yarn count identifies how thin or thick the yarn is by calculating yarn’s weight and length. Yarn is categorised by the number of ply’s (e.g. 2) and the calculation of weight and length (e.g. 30). This results in a reading of 2/30nm (count). In the sequence, the higher the second number the finer the yarn.