What’s in a name? The difference between Merino and Strong Wool.

You might have heard us talk about strong wool since launching our 2022 wool collection and wondered what on earth we were talking about. Here we shine a light on the differences between two popular New Zealand wools – Merino and Romney (or Romney-Cross). Both are beautiful natural fibres that play a large part in New Zealand’s agricultural heritage, and both have their own unique qualities.

In New Zealand, wool is categorised by the thickness of its fibres. There are three types of wool here – fine, medium and strong and it is measured in microns –  which measure units so tiny they aren’t invisible to the human eye. One micron equals one-millionth of a metre, and the micron measurement of wool determines if it’s fine, medium or strong. 

Merino wool is classed as fine wool with a micron count of less than 24 - in scientific terms, this is very, very fine. Only 10 percent of New Zealand’s ample sheep population are classed as Merino sheep and are distinguishable by their stately, curly horns and wrinkly necks. 

Super soft and beautifully delicate, Merino wool’s fine texture is perfect for clothing as it feels silky smooth against your skin - working wonderfully as a thin thermal layer underneath clothing. While Merino is super soft, it’s also very light, lacking the cosiness of heavier fibres, and can be susceptible to pilling and holes due to its delicate touch.

The hearty wool of our Foxtrot Home blankets is a New Zealand stalwart;  Romney & Romney-Cross wool. Classed as strong wool with a micron count of 31 or more, Romney wool has a thicker fabrication than Merino but with the same superpowers.

Thanks to strong wool’s larger thicker fibres and to our unique knitted design, our Romney wool product is a heavier blanket - perfect for layering in winter and creating a weighty, cosiness that will keep you warm in the depths of a chilly New Zealand winter. 

Romney wool’s sturdiness also creates a wonderful textural element to our blankets and throws, adding another layer of interest to your home styling. The extra weight of the blanket also creates a natural fluidity when styled on your couch or bed. 

No matter the micron though, all wool is a wonder product from nature that, when used in the home, helps create a healthier, safer environment for you and your family. Natural wool is fire resistant and stain resistant (a blessing with little and big kids alike!), and its magical natural properties are fabulous for asthma sufferers as it’s hypoallergenic and breathable – keeping airborne dust particles at bay.

Foxtrot Home throws are generously sized and are at their best when layered over top of our linen sheets and duvets, or for sinking into the couch with a glass of wine and good book. 

The new collection of baby blankets are luxuriously thick and make a perfect pram companion for wandering adventures with your little one or toddler. The weight of our baby blankets, crafted from homegrown wool will keep your baby feeling calm and snug. Beautifully cozy, hypoallergenic and breathable, they also make a wonderful playmat too!

Made with heart and homegrown in New Zealand, our heirloom-quality blankets are sourced directly from Kate’s family farm in Hawkes Bay. Inspired by vintage New Zealand-made blankets, we believed that Romney wool could be used in a more considered way. We wanted to celebrate the texture and distinctly New Zealand feel of strong wool, and we are thrilled with the results.

The collection is proudly dreamt up, designed and produced here at home, and was a way for us to shine a light on one of New Zealand’s most undervalued products. Our Kiwi wool heritage needs to be protected, and we love the distinctly weighty, textural quality our strong wool blankets evoke – we hope you do too.