Merinos are the aristocrats of the sheep world. For centuries the kings and queens of Europe prized their soft wool, using it to create the finest clothing imaginable. At one stage merinos were so valuable, exporting them from Spain was a crime punishable by death.
Merinos were imported into New Zealand in the 1840s. Since then they have thrived in the Southern Alps of the South Island despite the extremes of weather. Because of this unique environment and the farming methods used, New Zealand merino has exceptional qualities and is sought after all around the world.
Precious Wool – not all sheep are created equal
Although all merino wool is fine, growers selectively breed their flocks to produce particular grades of fineness that is measured in microns. Each micron band is suited for a different type of use. The very finest merino, known as ultrafine, is 16 microns or less. Much prized, it is still the rarest grade commercially available and can fetch huge prices per fleece. Ultrafine merino is used for fine Italian suiting and other luxury clothing. The uninitiated will tell you that cashmere is the finest textile on the planet. Those who know, know that ultrafine merino is without substitute or equal.
Benefits for your precious baby
The benefits of merino for babies were famously proved by a study carried out in 1979 by Scott and Richards at Cambridge Maternity Hospital where babies who slept on merino wool settled more quickly, cried less, fed better and gained weight faster.
Our Koru Baby shawls are natural, renewable, hardwearing, biodegradable and most importantly, very soft and free from harmful chemicals.
Warm and cosy but not too warm
In the Southern Alps of New Zealand, where temperatures range from 35°C in summer to -15°C in winter, the fleece of the merino protects the sheep from freezing or overheating.
The same clever ‘active’ properties of merino give our shawls the ability to respond to changes in your baby’s body temperature, keeping them warm when the weather is cold and cool and comfortable when weather is hot.
This is extremely important for babies because they are not able to adapt to temperature changes well and heat is lost from them up to four times faster than adults. Newborns have particular difficulty regulating their own temperature.
‘Hydroscopic’ – Merino naturally repels water and any moisture is drawn into the core of the fibre and ‘wicked’ away from your baby’s skin to evaporate into the air. This means they won’t feel ‘clammy’. In fact merino fabric doesn’t feel wet to the touch until it is 60% saturated !
Naturally resistant to bacteria, odour and dirt – Merino wool is naturally antibacterial thanks to the moisture absorbing core and moisture repelling exterior – making it tricky for moisture loving microbes to grow. Merino also contains natural lanolin and keratin (also found in our skin, hair and nails) both of which have powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. As a result, our Merino shawls don’t need washing as often or as vigorously as synthetic alternatives – great for you, the planet and your baby.
Anti-static – Antistatic merino naturally picks up less dust and lint from the air making it the perfect fibre for allergy sufferers as dust mites are the major cause of allergy and asthma suffering.
Highly fire resistant – Merino contains natural fire retardants; it insulates against high temperatures and doesn’t readily catch fire. It also self-extinguishes when the source of flame is removed. More importantly, when merino burns it doesn’t melt and stick to the skin. That’s why it is an excellent fabric for babies bedding and clothing.