I haven't washed my Portillo Cowl yet, but you are motivating me to get that done. Brunswick reminds me quite a bit of Lopi--it has that authentic sheep-y character, plus the mohair halo as others have mentioned. Lopi always surprises me with how much softer it is after washing: not soft enough to be mistaken for merino, but completely comfortable for me (this is so subjective). I wash my woolens with the same shampoo I use on my head. I think the water does most of the softening, to be honest. I don't use a conditioner because I don't like the idea of leaving a substance sticking to the wool, but that's just me. A fabric softener or hair conditioner might soften it up quite a bit. I'm hoping that like Lopi, the upside to the woolier texture will be that it doesn't pill like loosely spun merino does!