The next-to-skin wool knitwear trade is set to be revolutionised by two ground-breaking new fabric testing devices, the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter, which are now available for commercial use through the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA).

 Used together the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter allow manufacturers and retailers to produce and market greatly improved next-to-skin garments.

These new devices objectively and accurately measure the comfort and handle of light-weight wool garments, and provide an effective method of assuring next-to-skin comfort and predictable feel for the consumer.

“Wool is renowned throughout the world as the next-to-skin fibre of choice in many markets, including the premium active-wear markets; however, variation in fabric quality has too often left consumers with mixed feelings,” Sheep CRC Chief Executive James Rowe said.

“These technologies will take the guess work out of achieving elite quality garments, which consistently exceed consumer expectations and generate demand throughout the supply chain.

“The Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter will set a new standard for the next generation of next to skin knitwear – brands and manufacturers which embrace the technology will benefit from increased trust, improved positioning and greater customer loyalty. They will allow minimum standards to be set for next-to-skin comfort, which manufacturers and retailers can then link to price points and product type.”

The Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter were developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) in conjunction with the CSIRO, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), AWTA, Deakin University and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA).

The Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter technologies are now available for commercial use by all wool processors, knitwear manufacturers and retailers, as part of a pilot project between AWTA and the Sheep CRC designed to introduce these new measurements to the market.

AWTA Managing Director Michael Jackson said the Wool ComfortMeter counts the number of fibres protruding from a fabric that could cause wearer discomfort, and then accurately predicts a consumer’s response – crucial information for next-to-skin fabric manufacturers.

Mr Jackson also said ‘handle’ had traditionally been measured subjectively by judges, who often had differing views on a fabric’s smoothness, softness, warm feel, dry feel, hairiness, tightness and perceived weight. The Wool HandleMeter overcomes these problems.

”The Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter add significant value to traditional measurements of fabric quality which cannot account for the effects of processing and finishing and don’t accurately predict comfort and softness,” he said.

“These tools make the process of quality control significantly faster, cheaper and more accurate than other measures and, most importantly, can be applied to the finished fabric.”

The accuracy of the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter in predicting the ‘feel’ of garments has been validated through a series of consumer wearer trials and with experts in evaluating wool handle.

Testing of fabrics and garments is available through AWTA’s Australian Product Testing Division and will be extended to include it’s operations in China, where AWTA has a joint venture with the JinAo Testing Co, located in the knitwear production centre of Nanjing.

Through AWTA, and its experience in developing International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) standards, the pilot will also provide a pathway for international accreditation for the testing procedures.

Operating as part of the Federal Department of Innovation Industry Science Research and Tertiary Education’s CRC program, the Sheep CRC is a collaboration of industry, government and the commercial sector. It is working to increase productivity and profitability of the industry through new technologies for adoption by both the meat and wool supply chains.

  • Detailed fact sheets on the Wool ComfortMeter and Wool HandleMeter technology and how they benefit different areas of the wool supply chain, are available on the Sheep CRC website, or here.
  • Companies wishing to test fabrics should contact AWTA Product Testing by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by telephoning +61 (0)3 9371 2400