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Wool Quality

Program Leader

Mr David Tester
Sheep CRC Ltd
Tel: 0434 600 164
Email -

To read about the program scroll down below 'Latest Updates'.

Summer 2013-14 update

The most significant events this quarter have been:

  • The successful completion and interaction with participants of the pilot trial;
  • The acceptance and implementation of the commercialisation plan for the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter; and
  • The submission of the first six papers for the second International Journal Special Edition. 


Commercialisation of the Wool ComfortMeter (WCM) and Wool HandleMeter (WHM)

Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter testing and reporting has now been completed for seven major international supply chain companies as part of the pilot trial. Further information exchanges have occurred with four of the pilot trial participants as the testing results are used for product development and product selection activities. Costings have also been requested by two participants as they prepare to budget for instrument purchases next year. The pilot trial is now officially finished.

Progress towards formal acceptance of the two test methods to cover the WCM and WHM continues. Feedback has been received from the working group and documents have been prepared to address the issues identified. The Commercialisation plan for the WCM & WHM has been approved.

The storage and usage agreement for the Wool Program assets of wool, top, yarn, fabric, garments and databases is being negotiated with the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) & Deakin University.

A total of six papers have now been submitted for the Textile Research Journal Special Edition and another four papers are in advanced stages of completion.

Wool Biology and Information Nucleus flock analysis

All of the analyses of the 2012 shearing data are now complete. The final analysis of the full complement of adult shearing data will occur when all of the test results have been received from AWTA. Four papers were published in the 2013 AAABG conference proceedings.

Spring 2013

The most significant events this quarter have been the successful Wool Week conference in Melbourne, filming and interviews on the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter for a feature on the ABC Landline program, promotion of the instruments through a feature article in the global textile magazine ‘Twist’ and the successful retail workshops held in the USA and England.

Wool ComfortMeter (WCM) and Wool HandleMeter (WHM)
The pilot trial has gathered further momentum with most of our planned trial partner positions now committed. Those partners that have had their fabrics tested are in receipt of detailed reports on the WCM and WHM measurements. These include a major knitter and a major spinner in China, as well as a major spinner in Italy. Currently reports are being finalised for a major European knitter and retailer, while samples are being tested in Melbourne and China for New Zealand and US pilot trial partners. Travel documents and arrangements are now in place to send WCM and WHM instruments to Mauritius at the request of Ciel Textiles Group.

Two successful retail workshops were held recently in Seattle and New York with attendance from 15 global retailers/brands and the US Textile press. Two workshops were also held in London along with one-on-one meetings with Marks and Spencer, Burberry and interviews with possible distributors of the instruments.

A global working group has been established under the auspices of the International Wool Textile Organisation to develop and progress two test methods to cover the WHM and WCM. It is hoped a draft test method could be completed for commercial use by early 2014.

Winter 2013

Successful seminars on the Wool ComfortMeter (WCM) and Wool HandleMeter (WHM) in China coincided with the start of the pilot trial of the WCM and WHM tests being available for evaluation through AWTA’s Jin Ao Testing in China.

Skin ComfortMeter for Knitted Wool Fabric

The final adjusted scores of the remaining sensory data from the combined wearer trials have been received. These include: absorbent, clingy, cold, damp, heavy, muggy and sweaty. Analysis will be done on this data in light of other subjective information already received including comfort, prickle, itch and scratch, as well as fibre type and other fabric details. This will help build the positive story for wool compared to the other fibres used in the wearer trials, such as cotton and polyester.

We have received the garments and the reverse engineering data from the large-scale Benchmarking Trial done by DAFWA in 2003. This includes fibre, yarn and fabric data on 167 knitted wool garments purchased from retailers all around the world. The garments will be tested on the WCM and those suitable will also be tested on the WHM. A report will be prepared from the analysis of these results.

Desirable, Specified Handle in Merino Wool Fabrics

An international round trial with the three commercial prototype WHM instruments (located at Deakin, Jin Ao China and AWTA Product Testing) and the PhabrOmeter has commenced. All WHM data for the relevant wearer trial garments and industry trial garments has been collected and analysis has commenced. The goal of the analysis is to identify the fibre, yarn and fabric characteristics that are important for the various handle attributes. The initial analysis and findings were completed at the end of June. Depending on the outcome, models will then be developed to predict handle values from fabric details.

Wool Biology and INF analysis

The first grower message paper on Staple Strength (SS) has been completed. A key finding from the analysis is: Fibre diameter was the only key wool production and quality trait to have an unfavourable genetic relationship with SS, such that selection for increased SS will lead to broader fibre diameter.

Autumn 2013

The Wool ComfortMeter™ (WCM) and Wool HandleMeter™ (WHM) are part of a research pilot project with AWTA. Testing of lightweight wool knitwear for comfort and handle properties has been available through the AWTA Melbourne Laboratories from the beginning of April. Both testing systems will also be available in China from mid-May through AWTA’s connection with JinAo. The Pilot Project is planned to run for a period of six months to provide an assessment of the usefulness of the measurements for quality control and product development in various sectors of the supply chain.

AWTA is also coordinating the process of gaining IWTO accreditation for the test methods. Details for approval of a draft test method has been prepared and will be considered by IWTO at their next meeting in June 2013.

Wool Biology and Information Nucleus analysis - The focus this quarter has been to establish simple grower messages based on the key areas of interest of sheep producers: Staple strength, CVd, wrinkle, fleece weight, fleece rot, Merino types and colour and proof of the effectiveness of ASBVs. These messages also included the G X E interactions and the relationship between wool traits and other meat, reproduction and easy care traits. The heritability analyses of wrinkle traits has shown them to be reasonably highly heritable for adults and yearlings (between 0.3 and 0.4).

Summer 2013

Skin ComfortMeter for knitted wool fabric

Reports for the work completed with two major supply chain knitters have now been completed. Follow-up work includes persistence with developing a next-to-skin fabric with one of the knitters and further work in assessing product consistency with the other company. There has also been formal interest expressed by four other companies producing next-to-skin wool products. Research on developing a sleeve model for evaluating fabric comfort is continuing to make progress and a report on the second trial is anticipated in February 2013.

Whiter Lightfast wools

There continues to be commercial interest in the ‘everwhite’ treatment process. One of the challenges is to develop an agreed process for objectively measuring the rate of yellowing.

Desirable, specified handle in Merino wool fabrics

Over the last quarter there has been good progress in developing a new prototype with associated software that incorporates the CRC's calibration algorithms. A number of new machines will be tested and calibrated during January.

Wool biology

An important focus of the project team has been development of a set of industry-relevant messages based on the analysis of Information Nucleus data. There is also good progress in preparing a number of papers for the AAABG conference.

Spring 2012

Skin ComfortMeterTM for Knitted Wool Fabric

A trial at Crystal Knitwear’s Huizhou mill in Southern China involving the Wool ComfortMeterTM  (WCM) resulted in most managers being introduced to the technology, staff in the testing lab trained in the operation of the WCM and a general understanding by all senior personnel of the benefits that the Wool ComfortMeterTM could bring to their business. 

The latest WCM round trial has shown an improvement in measurement precision and this is encouraging.

Measurement for handle characteristics of commercial fabrics bought back to Australia after the industry proving trials has been completed. The 19 fabrics have also undergone extensive subjective handle rating to enable the measurements to be validated and to complete the information required for the report.

Wool Biology and INF analysis

Three discussion papers and a journal paper have been completed and circulated for comments.

A paper for the JTI special edition was completed “Predicting textural greasy wool handle”

A paper detailing the analysis of the Handle and visual wool quality scores continues to improve the accuracy of the genetic estimates for these.

A paper detailing the analysis of the Wool production and measured wool quality traits continues to improve the accuracy of the genetic estimates for these traits.

Winter 2012

Skin Comfort Meter for Knitted Wool Fabric

The commercial trial in Mauritius engaged all 4 mills with staff in the main testing laboratory trained in operation of the instrument.  All senior personnel were enthusiastic about of the potential benefits that the Wool ComfortMeter™ could bring to their business.

More than half of the fabrics for the next sleeve trial have been converted into sleeves and dyed black in preparation for the trial.. The last 11 fabrics have been sent to Armidale for converting into sleeves. The trial commenced at Curves Gym, Armidale in June and is due for completion by early August.

Whiter Lightfast Wools

A total of 7 expressions of interest in the “Everwhite” wool technology were received from wool textile manufacturers in China, Europe, and New Zealand.  The companies are now in the process of assessing the samples and preparing for the next round of discussions.

Keith Millington is the author of a chapter in the latest version of  the “Wool Dyeing” book considered to be the definitive publication on dyeing wool. The chapter entitled “Bleaching and Whitening of Wool” features and acknowledges the work of the Sheep CRC Wool project.

Desirable, Specified Handle in Merino Wool Fabrics

The new user interface screens for the Wool HandleMeter™ are now available and round trial testing is scheduled for early August. 

Two papers on handle measurement have been prepared for the Journal of the Textile Institute CRC’s special edition and have been submitted for external refereeing.

Wool Biology and analysis of Information Nucleus data

The 2011 shearing data has been prepared for analysis and an updated discussion paper is expected around the end of July.

Estimation of phenotypic and genetic correlations between the wool and production trait groups has commenced.

Autumn 2012

Photo source: Black Rose Photography
Photo source: Black Rose Photography

The most significant event this quarter has been locking in commitment and timing for the industry proving trials. Trial agreement and confidentiality forms have been signed by the second biggest knitwear producer in the world (Tropic Knits Ltd and Floreal Knitwear Ltd parts of the Ciel Textile group) and the CRC. The industry proving trial with Floreal is expected to occur between 26 March and 6 April. The second trial with Crystal, the largest knitwear manufacturer in the world, is being organised to commence two weeks after returning from Tropic Knits Ltd and Floreal Knitwear Ltd parts of the Ciel Textile group.

Skin Comfort Meter for Knitted Wool Fabric

A report on the analysis of the wearer trials and Wool ComfortMeter (WCM) values was completed. A linear model was developed to predict the wearer prickle response. The model explained over 90% of the variation and had the WCM value as the major factor as well as minor factors of fibre, yarn and fabric characteristics.  A Deakin University project has developed a prediction equation to estimate fabric WCM results from measurements on yarn. The simplest prediction equation, based on 36 single jersey fabrics, can explain almost 90% of the variance.  The equation uses the WCM result of 25 yarn windings and the fabric weight.  Forty nine fabrics have been selected for the next sleeve trial. The trial design is being developed to improve the calibration of the WCM and improve the accuracy of willingness to pay data. The trials will be run in Armidale during April / May. Nine papers are being prepared for the special edition of the journal of the Textile Institute.

Whiter Lightfast Wools

A draft paper has been prepared showing that the genetic improvement in photostability has no practical benefit for a bleached wool product. The work showed that scoured wools of the same whiteness but different photostability all had the same photostability performance after bleaching.  The only way to improve the photostability of bleached wool product is to use the “Everwhite” wool process. The invitation for expressions of interest in the “Everwhite” wool technology was sent to 44 companies in China and Europe. So far we have four expressions of interest.

Desirable, Specified Handle in Merino Wool Fabrics

Specifications have been prepared and identification of the issues associated with the continued development of three new Wool HandleMeters by AWTA and/or Milspec are being resolved and quotes obtained.

Wool Biology and INF analysis

Discussion papers are being prepared from the analyses of the 2010 shearing data and analysis has begun on the wool data from the 2011 shearing. The data and models from the INF analysis of the wool and the non wool traits have been shared among the three Sheep CRC programs. The wool program has begun work on the wool trait / reproduction trait correlations.

Return to the Autumn e-Newsletter.

Summer 2012

Next-to-skin comfort and measurement
Analysis of all 11 wearer trials conducted by the Western Australian team have now been completely analysed. This provides a critical set of data for calibrating the Wool ComfortMeter and interpreting the analysis of different aspects of yarn and fabric construction.

There is a high level of predictability of comfort based on the Wool ComfortMeter and the CRC is working closely with AWI to develop a commercialisation plan for this new technology.

Whiter lightfast wool
The CRC has had an important breakthrough in developing a process for protecting wool against photoyellowing. The treatment process has been shown to be very effective in maintaining whiteness of garments under accelerated photostability testing.

The CRC will soon be calling for expressions of interest from companies specialising in dyeing and finishing to license the new technology. Protection against photoyellowing is expected to have application in a range of wool products.

Measuring handle in Merino wool fabrics
The CRC has completed development of the software that underpins prediction of wool handle from the mechanical testing process.. The next challenge is to develop a fully integrated operation for testing under commercial conditions. The CRC anticipates that this will take between four to six months to develop the pre-commercial prototype. We will be working closely with AWI to determine specifications of the machine and a commercialisation plan for its use by industry.

Wool biology and the Information Nucleus
The key output from this project over the last quarter has been preparation of a research paper describing genetic variation in mineral content and the effect that this has on wool colour and photostability. The paper brings together results of a large research program that has involved meticulous measurement of trace mineral levels in wool collected from the Information Nucleus sheep. Lee King analysed the wool samples as part of her PhD program and was assisted in the genetic analysis by Sue Hatcher.

Return to the Summer e-newsletter

Spring 2011

Skin ComfortMeter (WCM) for Knitted Wool Fabric
The 11th and final full garment wearer trial was completed before the end of June 2011 by the Design for Comfort (DFC) facility in WA, which ceased operating on 30th June. A paper based on the DFC results is being prepared to establish the wearer trial protocol in the scientific literature. There are further plans to publish a number of other papers on the wearer trial work. The final combined analysis of all 11 wearer trials will be completed by Jane Speijers in early October. This will then allow the analysis and prediction modelling to be done at Deakin for the WCM.

The 11th wearer trial results show that we were successful in producing a series of benchmark fabrics for next to skin comfort. The set of ultrafine wool fabrics (14 to 15 micron) received the best ratings for comfort, superior to those of the cotton and cashmere fabrics used in the wearer trials.

Analysis of the sleeve trials has been completed, concluding that the sleeve data correlates well with the full garment wearer trial data, therefore sleeve trials will continue to support calibration of the WCM.

A paper has been prepared that examines the measurement of yarn using the WCM. This work will form the basis of a model to predict the comfort performance of fabric made from WCM measured yarn.

The latest version of WCM is a smaller instrument. The prototype is undergoing final commissioning and will be ready for trialling in October.

Whiter Lightfast Wools
The photostability performance of different rates of application of a UV absorber has been completed. The results confirm the improvement in performance of the new UV absorber application method and show that application rates well below those suggested for the retention of fabric strength can give significant improvements in photostability.

Following questions from overseas supply chain companies, a test was done at CSIRO to compare the performance of “white wool” against cotton and synthetics, at picking up “dirt” from other fabrics during laundering. The test was done with a heavy dirt load and the results showed that the “white wool” performed as well as both cotton and synthetics in cross staining during washing.

The effects of bleaching on the photostability of fleece wools are being measured to see if the differences observed in the photostability of the individual fleeces still exist after bleaching. This will establish the magnitude of any genetic benefit on photostability.

Desirable, Specified Handle in Merino Wool Fabrics
Trials to determine the ability of the WHM to quantify changes to handle caused by the addition of softeners have shown that the WHM can discriminate between different softeners and different application rates. Furthermore it quantified changes in handle that were not always confidently detected by the panel of experts. This ability is essential for the WHM performance as the addition of chemical handle modifiers is one of the main ways the supply chain “improves” fabric handle.

Wool Biology and INF analysis
Analyses of the trace metal data has been completed showing heritability estimates for the yearling traits for Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, Calcium, Iron, Sulphur and Zinc range from low (Mn, Mg) to moderate (Cu, Ca:Mg) and high (Fe, Ca, S, Zn). There was evidence of a sire x flock effect for Ca and Cu and a maternal effect for Ca, Cu, Mg and Mn. For the adult traits the heritability estimates ranges from low (Cu) to moderate (Fe) and high (Ca:Mg, Zn, Mg, Ca). A scientific paper is being written for Animal Production Science (ANZSAP Special Edition).

An initial experiment evaluating the repeatability and within and between scorer variation in greasy wool handle using both a texture and compression based protocol has been completed. A scientific paper will be submitted to the ANZSAP Special issue of Animal Production Science.

Winter 2011

Skin Comfort Meter for Knitted Wool Fabric
The 11th and final wearer trial has been completed, including garments made from the four benchmark fabrics manufactured as part of the ultrafine wool trial. The data from the 10th wearer trial have been entered and checked and the report associated with the 8th wearer trial has been completed. Two key findings from the 8th trial are that even if a garment is not prickly, itchy, or scratchy, people might still not like it. This was the case with one of the commercial polyester fabrics. The other was that there are commercial garments currently available at retail that are considered by many wearers to have poor next to skin comfort.

An early analysis of the data from the first 7 wearer trials, including Wool Comfort Meter testing, Wool Handle Meter testing and all measurements pertaining to the garment specifications has shown that average wool micron only explains about 60% to 70% of the wearer trial response. Other characteristics such as fabric construction, yarn structure and finish are also important. It will only be after the inclusion of the analysis outcomes from the recent wearer trials that the significance of fibre diameter distribution will be quantified.

The wearing component of the sleeve trials have been completed and the analysis begun. The trial covers 42 fabrics including 24 from the full wearer trial that will allow a test of equivalence of the wearer trials and the sleeve trials.

Whiter Lightfast Wools
The dyeing trials, that quantify the relationship between photostability performance and application rate of a UV absorber, have been completed. This work now awaits the results of the photostability tests so the analysis can be completed. This is fundamental information for the White Wool Technology Manual under development.

Bleached white and brilliant pink CRC wool fabrics have been shown to local and overseas retailers with positive feedback received. These companies have asked questions about the ability of the fabric to not pick up “dirt” from other fabrics during laundering. Some testing will be done in this area to compare our white wool fabric to polyester and cotton fabrics. A local retailer commented that the fabric colour is unlike any wool fabric they have seen before and considered the technology is ideally suited to the current lamb’s wool market that is going through a cyclical return to whites and pastel colours.

Desirable, Specified Handle in Merino Wool Fabrics
A garment quality trial has been completed demonstrating how the Wool Handle Meter and Wool Comfort Meter can be used as part of a quality assurance program to evaluate the consistency of goods received at retail. Both the Wool Handle Meter and the Wool Comfort Meter have shown that significant differences exist between the colourways of the same fabric. A new trial will quantify the impact of the main garment finishing techniques on the measured wool handle attributes. This will be important for the Wool Handle Meter and Wool Comfort Meter Technology Manuals as well as for retail product quality decisions.

Handle standards for next-to-skin knitted fabrics continue to be developed, the latest being a raised and shaved version of 18.3 micron fabric used in the wearer trials. These same fabrics are being used to continually validate and amend the Wool Handle Meter algorithms for the handle attributes.

Trials have commenced to validate the Wool Handle Meter algorithms and confirm that the instrument can reliably differentiate between the level of treatment and the type of softener regularly used on knitted wool fabrics and garments.

Product Trials in overseas mills are now being planned to test the Wool Comfort Meter and Wool Handle Meter within commercial knitting mills. These are planned to begin by September 2011.

Wool Biology and INF analysis
The main focus for the wool analyses going forward will continue to be bringing the data together for the complete wool story including the phenotypic and genetic correlations with non-wool traits for meat, reproduction and parasites.

About the Program

The future of the Australian apparel wool industry is critically dependent on its ability to expand into the key emerging consumer markets, in the developed and developing world, of lightweight, next-to-skin capable wool knitwear products. The major constraints to market growth are:

Next-to-skin comfort - traditional wool knitwear suffers from real and perceived concerns with prickle – around 2 in 5 consumers associate the word ‘wool’ with ‘prickle  and itch’, and there is no fabric specification system which addresses the problem.

Colour and photo-stability - the inherent cream colour of wool requires chemical bleaching to achieve satisfactory whiteness, which is expensive, associated with     environmental concerns, and of temporary product benefit - bleached wools are subject to yellowing when exposed to sunlight.

Achieving predictable, desired handle outcomes – the knitwear market (59% of consumer expenditure on wool apparel) lacks an objective specification system for wool handle, negatively impacting the ability of the emerging Asian knitwear production hubs to achieve predictably desirable fabric handle.

It is also essential to maintain, and increase gains in efficiency of wool production and ensure that quality continues to improve to meet consumer demand for new and existing products. To address these constraints, development of new commercial fabric and fibre specifications is required, as is successful engagement with the retail, processing, and production sectors of the apparel wool supply chain.

The Program will:

  • Develop and commercialise measurement technologies which enable specification of next-to-skin comfort and handle sensation for knitted wool fabrics;
  • Develop practical sheep management and genetic selection tools, combined with improved processing options, to produce fabric of increased whiteness and improved photo-stability.
  • Work closely with manufacturers and retailers to document the key attributes of wool and its processing in order to produce knitted garments acceptable to the consumer.

In addressing these outcomes, and in monitoring the impacts of these on demand for Australian Wool, the Program will work closely with wool supply chain partners, including Australian Wool Innovation Limited. The Program will also work with the Information Nucleus flocks to analyse wool production and quality in the context of other selection and environmental factors to deliver better information to producers about Australian sheep breeding values for wool.

Business case

The path to market for the outcomes of Program 2 will be in two stages, targeted at the flat-bed and circular knitters of light-weight next-to-skin knitwear, and done in conjunction with AWI. The Wool Comfort Meter and the Wool Handle Meter, will be introduced to key domestic and international supply chain companies through pre-commercial trials. These will showcase the combined technical package, gain feedback from users and enable the collection of valuable data for completion of the Technical Manual. These instrument and know-how packages have already created interested among companies in the wool supply chain. At the same time the white wool know-how package will be documented and validated through larger scale commercial trials with interested parties. This combination of technical packages will
complement one another and build on wools natural competitive advantages in next to skin applications - moisture, heat and odour management.

These technology packages will enable wool knitwear product developers to meet the tough, acceptance criteria for next-to-skin apparel in any market.
Measurable quality and defined specification will increase demand for wool fibre of less than 19 microns – as Australia produces more than 95% of this wool globally, the benefits will preferentially flow back to Australian producers in the form of increased demand and value of fine wool exports. The expected net present value of the project (Commonwealth Outcome 4) is $496 million.

Autumn 2011

The emphasis in all projects is on commercialisation and adoption activities for the Wool Comfort Meter, the Wool Handle Meter and the White Wool technology. The main research still occurring is clearly directed by, and supports, the adoption activities. The most significant outcome during this period has been the formation of a Commercialisation Steering committee with membership representing the Sheep CRC, AWI and co-ordinated by an outside consultant. It has revised the commercialisation strategy for all Wool Program products and associated Commercialisation plan.

The strategy involves the selection of 5 supply chain companies, 3 in Australia and 2 overseas, which meet a strict set of criteria that would maximise the intellectual and marketing opportunities to the CRC. Major trials using two or all three of the technologies will be done with these companies to demonstrate the benefits and value of the technology, providing information critical for the final technical development and to give credibility to subsequent marketing claims made by the CRC and its licensee about the technology.

Skin Comfort Meter for Knitted Wool Fabric
The 10th wool next to skin wearer trial has commenced using a very soft handling Italian fabric and other fabrics made from yarns with potential to improve comfort rating.

Four bales of ultrafine wool have been scoured, combed, spun, knitted, dyed and finished and are awaiting garment making up. These garments will be used in the 11th wearer trial along with garments made from a fine micron commercial yarn selected to provide benchmark fabrics for handle and comfort measurements.

Analysis of the data from wearer trials, Wool Comfort Meter testing, Wool Handle Meter testing and all measurements pertaining to the garment specifications has now commenced. The outcome will provide the basis for the Wool Skin Comfort and Handle Technical Manual as well as determine if improvements can be made to the accuracy of the prediction of next to skin comfort.

Experimental work to identify the sensitivity of the Wool Comfort Meter measurement to temperature and humidity has confirmed that the test needs to be performed in a temperature and humidity controlled lab.

Whiter Lightfast Wools
Completion of the White Wool Technology Manual is now scheduled for September. The delay has been caused by the identification of additional research and information required to answer important commercial and genetic questions. Of practical importance is whether the genetic improvement in photostability still exists after oxidative or reductive bleaching and if the chemical improvements to photostability override any genetic improvement.

Pastel pink dyeing of selected whiter wools at Levana Textiles in NZ was successful and samples of fabric made from this dyed wool have been obtained. The perceived colour in daylight very closely matches that of our benchmark pink cotton Lacoste polo shirt. Jimmy Jackson (AWI) has taken these samples to interested knitwear companies in Europe to obtain feedback.

All photostability data for IN flock samples taken in 2009 have been completed and sent to Sue Hatcher for analysis. Work is proceeding on the 2010 samples.

Desirable, Specified Handle in Merino Wool Fabrics
A trial is underway which will demonstrate how the Wool Handle Meter can be used as part of a quality assurance program to evaluate the quality of goods received at wholesale or retail level.

Fabrics are being both sourced and manufactured to provide the raw materials for the development and publication of handle standards for next-to-skin knitted fabrics. Various techniques are being employed to provide fabrics with controlled variation in the seven fabric attributes predicted by the fabric handle model. These variations are being achieved by knitting a common yarn with extremes of cover factor (Tight – Loose); raising and singeing a fabric (Hairy - Clean); using a different wool fibre diameter in fabrics of the same yarn and fabric construction (Hard – Soft); and plasma treatment of a fabric (Rough – Smooth).

Ongoing commercial trials have demonstrated that the Wool Handle Meter can reliably distinguish between untreated fabric and fabric with a minimal softener treatment. Further trials are underway to determine whether or not the technology can reliably differentiate between the level of treatment and the type of softener.

Fibre cuticle hardness is being measured for samples of alpaca, cashmere and wool selected from Information Nucleus Flock samples because of their different RtC and softness characteristics. Approximately half of samples have been measured at this stage.

A paper entitled “Multivariate Analysis of Tactile Sensory Data for Next-To-Skin Knitted Fabrics” was submitted to the Journal of Sensory Science.

Wool Biology and INF analysis
Analysis of the complete wool data set from the 2008 and 2009 shearings is now complete. This includes the visual wool traits and all measured traits. The data from the 2010 shearings is coming in and being entered into the database for analysis. The Photostability data from the 2010 shearing will not be received until late next quarter as resources were diverted to the crucial chemical photostability work at CSIRO.

A discussion paper on the new wool traits of colour and photostability has been completed. Preliminary findings, based on 2 years data for yearlings and 1 year for adults, are:

  • Heritability estimates for yearling yellowness is high, adult clean colour and adult photostability are moderate, while yearling clean colour and photostability were low.
  • Correcting the clean colour for fibre diameter had little or no impact on genetic parameters.
  • Almost all phenotypic correlations between whiteness and photostability and the visual and measured wool traits were classed as negligible, with the main exception being yellowness (Y-Z) and fibre diameter, where the whiter wool is finer.


The following discussion papers have or are being prepared:

  1. Handle and visual traits - focusing on yearling data as adult assessments of the 2007 drop animals were undertaken at only 3 of the INF sites.
  2. Conformation traits - outlining the results of preliminary analyses of the suite of assessed conformation traits. A paper has been submitted to the 2011 AAABG conference.
  3. Modelling procedure, variance components, estimation of heritability and phenotypic & genetic correlations of the "Usual" measured wool traits.


2010 shearing data has been received from 7 of the 8 sites. Analysis of 3 years of shearing data will commence when data is received from the remaining site. The key focus for wool analyses in the next quarter will be to assist in bringing the data together for the complete wool story including the phenotypic & genetic correlations with non-wool traits for meat, reproduction and parasites.

Products & Training Resources

Products & Training Resources

Wool Program Brochures

Download the Wool Program brochures below.