Perhaps it will come as no surprise but … From fleece to fibre, your favourite posts for 2023 all related very tangibly to sheep!

As the calendar year winds down, we like to take a moment to look back and discover what it was that caught your attention these past 12 months.

Wool as a topic is incredibly broad: there’s farming, the supply chain, wool science, wool’s amazing properties, and wool products and garments. At IWTO, we aim to cover the whole spectrum of wool content.

In terms of the global fibre market, wool is small (about 1%), so every click, every heart, thumbs-up, and share means a lot to us and the whole industry. So join us in a short trip down memory lane as we reveal our Best of IWTO 2023.

What You Liked Best in 2023

This year’s review shows a marked preference for deeper knowledge around wool sheep. Far and away the favourite was our October post on the word fleece.

We looked into the history of this word and finds it comes from the Old English “fleos or flies” and means “wool coat of a sheep.”

The word is an old one and comes down through the Proto-Indo-European word “pleus”.

Our point here was that so often what is called fleece – whether blankets, jumpers, or something else – is not at all from a wool coat of a sheep.

Woolmark did a great campaign about this very issue, Filter by Fabric. Filter by Fabric challenged brands and retailers to “call it what it is” and to offer online filters so people can search for items made wool and other natural fibres. This in turn encourages knowledge of what clothes and other textiles are made of by doing one simple thing before you buy: look at the label.

Read More: An Overview of Woolmark’s Filter by Fabric Campaign

Wool Sheep Genealogy

You also liked our post on Wool Sheep Genealogy showing the evolution of different sheep breeds, including the Spanish Merino.

The Phoenicians, Carthaginians and the Romans all took their flocks to Spain to benefit from the rich pastures there. The Moors of Southern Spain (711-1421) were expert sheep breeders and their advanced breeding methods resulted in the Merino breed.

It is believed that the Merino is a cross of the Romana sheep with the Berber breed, introduced into Spain by the Beni Merinos Tribe – and that’s where we get the name “Merino”.

This information comes from a book called The World of Animal Fibres, edited by the Italian Wool Trade Association.


Completing the Top 3 was our post about Microns, part of the ongoing Wool Lexicon series. In the world of wool, “micron” refers to the diameter of the individual wool fibres. These are measured in millionths of a metre. The lower the micron count, the finer and softer the wool will feel.

Micron count is just one factor that affects the quality of wool. Other factors, such as the crimp and the staple length, are also important.

Thanks for being part of the international wool community this year!

We look forward to bringing you more wool facts, wool science, and real wool news in 2024.

As always, our fact sheets, statistics, guidelines and more are available in the Resources tab of this website.