Wool is an incredible fibre and in these days of fast fashion and man made textiles it has lost its appeal. I suspect this is mainly because people think it is hard to look after. It is so easy to throw an acrylic or polyester jumper in the washing machine and that’s it job done.
Well it is true, wool needs to be looked after, as it is a natural fibre, made of a structure with little hooks on it, so if you wash it in hot water or agitate it in warm or hot water it will felt and shrink! However, wool clothing does not need to be washed as often as synthetic fibres as naturally repels dirt and odours. A quality wool jumper will last many many years, long after a synthetic one has been thrown away.
Wool is 100% Biodegradable
Wool is 100% biodegradable, so will completely rot down very quickly, in fact you can add it to your compost heap. That synthetic jumper that you threw away to purchase another easy to look after, cheap replacement will stay in landfill for the next 500 years!
How to Care for Wool
Wash, either on a 30 degree gentle machine wool wash or by hand by soaking on hand warm water. Do not agitate, just soak and squeeze to remove excess water. There are loads of wool wash products on the market, so use one of these, then you don’t even need to rinse. Gently wrap in a towel and squeeze to remove excess water, then dry flat, away from direct heat. If the wool has pilled i.e. has little bobbly bits, gently remove these with a brush, e.g. a soft wire cat brush.
Britain has the highest animal welfare standards in the world. A lot of the British landscape e.g. Scottish Highlands, Wales, Cumbria cannot be used for growing anything else, but it is good for grazing sheep. We have some absolutely beautiful breeds of sheep, a lot of which are now rare breeds, that have amazing fleeces.
Some people think that wool is cruel! This is crazy; sheep have to be sheared every spring to remove the extremely warm fleece that kept them warm and dry all winter. Imagine having to wear your biggest coat all summer and never being able to take it off, now that would be cruel!
I buy raw wool fleece from a variety of small flocks, depending on what type of fleece I need. e.g. I love spinning Jacob fleece and the yarn makes fantastic jumpers and blankets. I get my Jacob fleeces from a flock of pet rescue sheep and from a local small holder. I buy Gotland fleeces for their beautiful locks to make fleece rugs, these come from small pedigree wool only flocks. I also buy Icelandic fleeces from a small Croft in the Scottish Highlands, helping to keep this traditional lifestyle alive.