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Friday, July 3, 2009

How Many Microns?

The Bradford Count System is at best an approximate way to distinguish fine wool from finer wool. Modern technology has given us an accurate way to classify fibers by using photometry to measure the actual diameter of a fiber.

So, you may wander into another Etsy store and see this listing: "Baby Alpaca: 16 microns." What does that number mean and why should you care?

A micron is a metric unit of length equal to one millionth of a meter. In other words, small. Testing companies take photographs (sometimes x-rays) of sample fibers and come up with an average for a whole fleece. Fine wool has a smaller diameter than coarse wool. Smaller number=finer wool=more yds per pound.

Here are the same wools as in yesterday's Bradford post, but now described in microns. Lincoln/37-40; Romney/31-36; Blue-Faced Leicester/24-28; Corriedale/22-34, and Merino/18-22.

I hope this helps to improve your wool-shopping experience.

Info on photometry came from the Australian Wool Testing Authority, Ltd.

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