Wearing wool

I’d been considering trying a few pieces of merino wool clothing for over four years, after trying on a few Icebreaker items in late 2010.  At the time, I was several weeks pregnant with G, and I didn’t think I’d get much use out of the well-fitted clothing while pregnant, so I tabled the idea.

I’ve also been hesitant to invest in wool due to pest problems.  While we don’t have any visible moths, Matthew has lost several nice wool sweaters and vests to moth larvae, and I didn’t want to go that route.  (I have some SmartWool hiking socks that have been problem-free, but they are a wool blend, not 100% wool, and I think that makes a big difference.)

Anyhow, after my friend Rebecca (Fiets of STyLe) raved about the Icebreaker underwear as something that doesn’t feel gross during sweaty, hot-weather biking, I put trying a pair on my “things to do somewhat soon” list.  I finally got around to ordering some Icebreaker items after picking up a couple of merino wool items from another brand, Dakini (two light-weight sweaters and a pair of leggings for a great price at TJ Maxx).

The Dakini purchase spurred me to actually look at the Icebreaker website, and I was just in time for their winter sale.  Of course, I felt the need to get to the $100 free shipping level (they offer free returns on all orders), so in addition to ordering two pair of underwear, I also tried some tanks, long-sleeve tops, leggings, a variety of hats . . . well, let’s just say it turned into THREE different orders.  Oops!

0206151550-01In the end, I kept two pair of underwear, two tank tops, and a thin beanie (pictured above) that works under my bike helmet.

Even on sale, I’m pretty sure this is the most I’ve ever paid for a pair of underwear; I usually go for the 5-pack for $10 variety, so the per pair cost was 10x what I usually pay.  My friend assures me it’s worth it.

IMG_6763While both the Dakini and Icebreaker merino wool is very nice, at present, my sensitive torso begs to differ with their claims of “itch-less” wool.  I can do the wool underwear, and the leggings (in small doses), and the long-sleeved shirts with a cotton t-shirt underneath them, but I can’t handle the wool directly against my back, stomach, or chest.  I’m hoping that it’s just just my overly sensitive winter skin (which is much better this year compared to previous years), and that I’ll be able to wear the tanks come summer.  If not, I think I can still return them.  (If I am okay with wool-on-torso in the summer, I may try one of Icebreaker’s very lightest-weight long sleeve tops as a sun shirt.)

My efforts to prevent moth issues include:

  • Relatively frequent washing.  All of these pieces are machine washable.  The Dakini directions say “delicate cycle.”  While the Icebreaker pieces say that the regular cycle is fine, I’d just as soon baby them.  Unfortunately, our washing machine doesn’t have a delicate cycle, so I’m stuck washing by hand.  Clean, wet wool smells like [clean] wet dog.
  • Bagging.  I’m storing all of the clean items in plastic freezer bags.  Theoretically, moths should not be attracted to clean wool (it’s the body oils and food scents that they like), but I’m not taking any chances.
  • Freezing.  I’m not actually using this method yet, since I shouldn’t have an issue with brand-new clothing, but putting infested items in the freezer for at least 24-hours is another tool in the moth-fighting arsenal.

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Any other tips or suggestions for successfully caring for and wearing wool clothing?