According to Wikipedia, wool is fibre derived from the fur of animals of the Caprinae family – sheep and goats, especially sheep. Unlike silk, it is formed of the protein ‘keratin’ and it has two qualities that distinguish it from hair or from fur: it has scales that overlap like tiles on a roof and it is crimped (the natural wave of wool fibre).
The tiny overlapping wool fibre scales allow the wool fibres to repel rain and spilled liquid with ease. The natural crimp helps the fibres to retain their shape and wool fibres can be stretched and then readily bounce back into shape.
Wool is a natural fibre and a renewable resource and organic wool is almost non-allergenic. Much of wool sensitivity appears to come from the scouring agents, synthetic dyes and chemicals used in non-organic wool production and not from the wool itself.
The large variety and number of breeds of sheep come in a very wide range of colours even without natural dyes. Wool accepts dyes readily, however, and the combination of the great variety of wool types combined with the range of potential natural dyes results in an almost limitless combination of possible shades and hues.
Most of the world's finest wools for commercial textiles are currently produced from descendants of Spanish merino sheep but during the Middle Ages, England produced Europe's finest wools. Spanish wool was then of very poor quality and did not start to compete with mid-range English wools until the middle of the fifteenth century (see History page for further details).