Riding on the Sheeps’s Back

Or vice versa. Patagonia’s Woolyester Fleece (US$139 – Oct 2018) might  be a great mid-layer addition to your other wool clothing, your Kathmandu/Columbia thermal for example, and your Kathmandu or Columbia wool shirt. I rarely get cold enough (even in winter) when I am walking to need such a layer. I have probably put one on only once or twice in over sixty years tramping through the wilderness. Della however hot she may be in other ways runs cold in such weather – and needs to rug up, so this might be just the thing for her. (Aside: It will be interesting to see whether her new heart ‘cures’ this problem too – she can certainly fairly zoom up hills now).

Mind you it would have to be comparable in weight and insulative value to our Montbell Superior Down jackets (at 208 grams Mens Medium $A199 – Oct 2018) – though it might well be a little more durable. I can’t get any info on its weight. Fleece tends to be somewhat heavy though. You might think about something like a cashmere wool vest as an alternative.

The advantage I see it having over your run-of-the-mill fleece is that the wool should make it smell better after prolonged heavy exertion. I would have to buy one to confirm this – but I already have a cupboard full of old fleece garments for  use around the farm. Anyway it will want to be better as it costs more. For example you can buy a good brand (like Columbia for US$79.99 and you can do much better than that at eg Harris Scarfe – A$25- Oct 2018 – or this one from Anaconda for $A24 – Oct 2018!

What they say about it:

‘Patagonia recreated the modern fleece with recycled wool that retains classic fleece fuzziness. The Woolyester fleece is made with 46 percent recycled wool, 46 percent polyester, 4 percent nylon, and 4 percent other fibers. Patagonia claims these fleeces feel soft, dry quickly, and manage moisture well. ‘  (Gear Junkie)

‘With heritage design lines, a warm fleece jacket made with a modern blend of recycled wool, polyester and nylon fabric that’s Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. This classic style is rendered in a recycled wool/polyester/nylon fabric blend, moving us one step closer to a zero-waste apparel industry. Because this classic, every day, all around layer is rendered in a recycled wool/polyester/nylon fabric blend, it is a better choice when buying new, and moves us one step closer to a zero-waste apparel industry’. (Patagonia) You can read the full liturgy here: https://www.patagonia.com/blog/2018/09/introducing-woolyester/  It is enough to put you off! As a sheep farmer for over 40 years it does me!

I imagine others will be along with wool/poly fleeces which actually benefit sheep farmers like us before long. Meanwhile we continue to treat our Finnsheep quite humanely. And, listen up: their fleece is the very best in the world for making fine felt – which Della does often. I may try to entice her to make me an anorak yet. I have been trying for years. And a hat! Her Finn wool felt is also very nearly waterproof.

Here she is in two of her recent felted creations. Over the years she has made many more beautiful garments:

You won’t be getting something like these from Patagonia (or anywhere else in a hurry!) You probably won’t be getting a wife nearly as good as this either – and we have been together nigh on 50 years! Eat your heart out!

Can you see why I might want her to make me a felted anorak now? Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Della’s felted garments is that they are made entirely in one piece (no sewing). How clever is that? Thy are also remarkably light and warm. Wool felt is probably the ultimate ultralight hiker’s fabric. How soon before others discover it?

If you cannot afford a Della to make you a felted garment, Icebreaker have some excellent brushed wool jersey garments (which actually benefit real sheep farmers like ourselves). They are not cheap, but they are wonderful. I have spent half my life in one of their Mt Elliot vests (A$199 – Oct 2018) since I bought it. Della has a pair of their pants which she swears by in cold weather (only available in women’s – but who can tell the difference?) For example: https://au.icebreaker.com/en/mens-jackets-vests/realfleece-mt-elliot-vest%C2%A0/103454.html?dwvar_103454_color=001

PS: They have a couple of DFOs in Melbourne (We usually visit their store at 403 Smith St Fitzroy when Della is down there for her eye checks) where you can pick up (mainly last season’s) for sometimes/usually less than half price. Always worth a check out.

Woolyester available here for US$139:


See Also:






Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *