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Wool HandleMeter

The Wool HandleMeter is a breakthrough testing instrument for specifying handle and softness along the next-to-skin wool knitwear supply chain. It offers increased supply chain transparency, guaranteed consistent quality and enhanced product development capabilities for retailers and manufacturers


Image: Wool HandleMeter
Image: Wool HandleMeter

This new instrument allows retailers and manufacturers to develop and market next-to-skin wool garments which consistently meet buyer expectations.

It provides objective trading specifications which increase the efficiency along the supply chain, and eliminates reliance on human estimation when determining the hand feel of light weight single jersey next-to-skin wool garment.




The handle of a garment or fabric describes how it feels when you touch it with your hands in order to predict how it might feel when worn next to the skin. The softness and smoothness of a fabric are critical for first impressions when a customer examines a garment.

The handle of a garment or fabric can be influenced by a variety of factors including, yarn characteristics like fibre diameter and yarn twist, fabric characteristics such as knit structure, as well as finishing processes.

Handle preference is very subjective. So too is the way people describe attributes of handle. As a result there is often a problem in communicating buyer hand feel preferences across a global supply chain.  There can be particular difficulties when manufacturers and retailers communicate in a second language.

Even when handle preference is effectively communicated there remains the challenge of objective measurement and a risk that the hand feel may vary across product batches.

Such inconsistent quality and expectations usually has a negative impact on supply chain transactions including the consumer experience and results in product returns and damage to brand reputation.

Until now there has been no other way for retailers and manufacturers to specify their handle requirements other than by using subjective and inconsistent descriptors.

The Wool HandleMeter

After four years of defining and calibrating handle measurements with expert assessors and consumers we have developed an instrument which objectively measures and communicates the handle attributes of next-to-skin wool knitwear.

The Wool HandleMeter allows retailers to specify a value for fabric handle in their buying orders, generating specifications for wool types and processing procedures to ensure buyer requirements are met by the supply chain.

The Wool HandleMeter measures the seven core attributes of handle: smoothness, softness, warm feel, dry feel, hairiness, tightness and perceived weight as well as an overall luxury handle index.

The benefits of the instrument and adoption of its specifications are significant for the whole next-to-skin wool supply chain.

Product Transparency

With the Wool HandleMeter the retail buyers know what they are getting, and the manufacturers understand what their customers want.

The instrument generates an objective, repeatable value which encapsulates fabric handle.

Ambiguity and human subjectivity are replaced with transparent measurable values that ensure buyer requirements are clearly communicated and understood along the supply chain.

Product Consistency

Retailers and manufacturers can ensure consistent product quality across multiple batches by adopting the Wool HandleMeter as a core component of their process quality control system.

Retailers reduce the risk of customer dissatisfaction and product returns by using the Wool HandleMeter to continuously measure and assess their product quality, ensuring the hand feel of their next-to-skin wool products remains consistent.

Product Development

The Wool HandleMeter will assist both retailers and manufacturers to innovate with aspects of product handle.

By manipulating the measurable numeric values generated by the instrument, designers can evolve new products with a hand feel that responds to their target customers’ needs.

The instrument can also provide an opportunity for objective benchmarking of the retailer or manufacturers products.


Manufacturers who have adopted the Wool HandleMeter as a component of their quality processes can position themselves as a high and consistent quality supplier of premium next-to-skin wool knitwear.

Use of the Wool HandleMeter will positively differentiate the manufacturer to downstream customers generating new business, customer loyalty and trust.


Testing Authority

The Wool HandleMeter has been developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation as a collaboration between the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA).

Download the fact sheet and brochure below.

DownloadWool HandleMeter fact sheet (321 KB)

For information on the Wool Measurement Pilot Project click here