Wool you wear it? – woollen garments in Norway and the United Kingdom

Marie Hebrok, Ingun G. Klepp & Joanne Turney


This article was developed from the project ‘Valuing Norwegian Wool’ initiated by the Norwegian National Institute for Consumer Research to generate knowledge on how wool can contribute to sustainable textile consumption, and how value creation can be increased in the Norwegian wool industry. The article will compare consumer perceptions, attitudes, practices and knowledge concerning wool as a material and as garments in Norway and in the United Kingdom, through a case study of wardrobes owned by six middle-class families.

The aim is to generate knowledge about the diverse web of aspects that influence consumption of woollen garments. The wardrobe study as a method aims to include the materiality of garments in clothes research in a more direct way. Analysing the materiality in connection with the social and cultural aspects of clothes gives us a better understanding of the relations between materiality and practice.

Click here to read the full article (southampton.ac.uk)

Why Cotton as Linen? The Use of Wool in Beds in Norway

Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Tone Skårdal Tobiasson & Kirsi Laitala


Cotton is the “natural” choice and the dominating material in bed linen and sleepwear in Norway as in many other European countries. Regulation of temperature and humidity are important for good sleep, but they are not cotton’s strong points. There must have been other than the functional reasons which made cotton the winner in the bedding market. This article builds on literature about bedding in Norway from the 1800s and survey questions from 1951. We ask the question: what materials have been used and why? Wool was used in all bed textiles, both closest to the body and the layers over and under, from the cheapest chopped rags to the most costly textiles. The decline was seen throughout the 1800 and 1900s, but only in the 1960s does wool become totally absent as a next to skin bed textile. The cheap imports of cotton made cottage industry and home production unprofitable and the new emphasis on cleanliness gave cotton a clear leverage.

Click here to read the full article (tandfonline.com)


Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Kirsi Laitala og Tone Skårdal Tobiasson


Vi har undersøkt mulighetene for å gjeninnføre ull som sengetekstil. Barrierer for bruk av ull i nattøy og sengetøy blant norske og svenske forbrukere er analysert basert på web survey, intervjuer der informantene også kjente på en rekke ulike stoffer, og en brukertest av sengetøy og nattøy i ull. Muligheten for et sengetøy i ull ble møtt med positiv nysgjerrighet av de aller fleste informanter. Et viktig funn er koblet til hvordan endring finner sted. I Norge er bruken av ull, og da spesielt på mindre barn og i forbindelse med utendørsaktiviteter om vinteren en norm, en standard forbrukeren bevisst må velge bort. I Sverige derimot er valget av ull, nettopp et valg noen gjør og da ofte med en sterkere ideologisk begrunnelse. Markedet for kroppsnær ull vokser i Sverige og forskjellene mellom de to land kan dermed forventes å minke. Barrierer knyttet til hygiene, varmeregulering, struktur og mykhet er viktige i forbrukernes tanker omkring ull som sengetekstil. De har lite erfaringer med tynnere vevde stoffer og vanskeligere for både å gjenkjenne slike stoffer som ull og se for seg hvordan de vil virke i bruk.

Klikk her for å lese hele rapporten på engelsk (oslomet.no)

Wool is a knitted fabric that itches, isn’t it?

Marie Hebrok and Ingun Grimstad Klepp


In this article, we explore in what ways consumers’ preconceptions of wool influence their ability to recognize it as a fabric. Do we know that it is wool because it itches, or, conversely, does it itch because we think that it is wool? The analysis builds on three different methods; wardrobe studies, sample tests and interviews, in order to explore both informants’ visual senses, and also applied tactile senses. It aims to bring together social science and textile technology methodologies and understanding in order to understand the properties of wool. It does this through adopting a multisensory understanding of the material. The research aimed to explore the associations with and experiences of wearing wool. This, we argue is as important as the senses in the process of identifying woollen fibres. The research found that the strongest influences in fabric identification were: perceptions of use, fabric type and fibres, colour, structure patterns and the ‘feel’ of the fabric.

Click here to access the article (ingentaconnect.com).

Valuing Norwegian Wool

Marie Hebrok, Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Tone S. Tobiasson, Kirsi Laitala, Marit Vestvik & Madeline Buck


Wool has been called the white gold and has warmed and brought joy to the Norwegian population throughout history. It is also a textile fibre with many unused features. The starting point of the project Valuing Norwegian Wool is a desire to help Norwegian agriculture, wool based industry, and design to exploit the potential inherent in Norwegian wool as raw material, and in the Norwegian textile tradition. Norway has a thriving textile industry and several strong companies that produce products made of wool. The marketing of the origin of the raw material these products are produced from is however rather inadequate and sometimes misleading. While fewer and fewer of the products are made of Norwegian wool, consumers – not without reason – take it for granted that Norwegian producers use Norwegian wool.

The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and led by SIFO. The project partners include representatives from the entire value chain – from agricultural organizations, industry and commerce, and design and consumption. This report is one of many publications in the project and makes visible the challenges that exist in the value chain, but also the great potential that is there.

Click here to read the full report (oda.oslomet.no)

Potential of Woolen Materials in Health Care

Kirsi Laitala, Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Marit Kjeldsberg & Kjersti Eilertsen



Woolen textiles may have more potential use areas within the health care than what they are used for today. They have many benefits such as being self-extinguishing, flexible, and having high isolation as well as moisture absorption properties. While absorbing moisture it releases heat, and as the evaporation rate is slow, woolen materials do not give a rapid chill that some other faster drying materials have. Therefore wool can hold lot of moisture before feeling wet. Due to wool’s potential to shrink in wash, the challenge has been how to wash wool to get it clean enough for health care use. Laboratory experiments were designed in order to see woolens’ tolerance to different washing treatments, as well as their properties related to soil repellence and stain removal.

The results showed that wool tolerates to be cooked without causing additional felting shrinkage, as well as spin dried at high velocity (at least 1400 rpm), as long as there is no mechanical action that could cause the fibers to get entangled. Therefore, the acceleration and slowing-down phases of spin-drying program have to be rapid, so that the centrifugal forces will keep the garments trapped in place against the walls of the drum. Especially untreated woolen fabrics showed good soil repellence against water based soils, as the outer layer of woolen materials is hydrophobic. However, if the staining occurred it was more difficult to get wool clean than synthetic fabrics. Cotton got even more soiling, but it tolerates more efficient washing and detergents than wool does. Wool has potential to replace some of the materials that are more commonly used in health care today, such as cotton, polyester and polyamide, and improve the use properties without compromising the hygiene. The frequent washing of textiles cause wear and tear, creates extra work as well as environmental consequences. Woolen products are washed less frequently than products mare of other fibers. Therefore, an increase in the use of wool can be a way to reduce washing frequency.

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