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Wool yarn

5 Reasons Why Wool is Not Just for Winter

April 13, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

Despite the seemingly endless winter there are definite signs that Spring is afoot: tulips and primroses dotting gardens and lanes, longer evenings, ducklings paddling along behind their mamas, loud and joyful birdsong, and when the sun does shine there’s a power to it that just isn’t there in winter. It might seem like the time to be packing away your woollen blankets and clothes, storing them carefully for the Autumn. But don’t rush for the suitcases and packing bags just yet. Wool is not just for Winter.

Here are 5 reasons why we love wool in the Spring and Summer too:

1.Chilly evenings

Even late into Spring the evenings can still have a chill in the air. Once the central heating goes off and you’ve burned all your firewood it can be lovely to reach for a cosy woollen blanket as you read in bed, or curl up on the sofa in front of a movie. A natural wool throw will help you make this transition from fully heated house to flinging open the windows, keeping you warm when it’s time to hunker down.

2.Outdoor adventures

spring wool throw

As Spring gets underway we start planning camping trips and picnic outings. A wool throw is never far from hand on these outdoor adventures, whether used as an extra layer over a sleeping bag, or as the base for a casual picnic with friends. And woolly socks are pretty much essentials if you are sleeping outdoors as they will keep your feet toasty all night long, which means you will sleep better. Wool helps to regulate body temperature and wicks moisture away from your body, meaning you won’t wake up sweaty and overheated.

3.Stylish interiors

A less-than pristine sofa or chair can be given a new lease of life with the simple addition of a wool throw. Choose contrasting colours to make a statement, or opt for something neutral that adds a note of muted texture and tone. If you don’t want the expense of re-upholstering a chair, a throw is a great way to get the look you want at a fraction of the price. And if you change your mind in the future you can simply use the throw elsewhere and replace it with something new.

4.Sporty layers

merino wool base layer

Merino wool is much-loved by sportspeople, from runners to cyclists, hikers to climbers. Thanks to its superfine yarn it can be spun into lightweight layers that are ideal for wearing as a base layer, providing some extra warmth but with no extra bulk. Wool is anti-bacterial and moisture-wicking so you will feel fresh and dry, and if there is a sudden downpour it will keep the rain off you while you dash for shelter.

5.Getting crafty

wool yarn spring summer - why wool ?

Now might be the time to take up a new craft or hobby, like knitting or crochet. These crafts are easy to learn and can be very relaxing. You can take your project with you wherever you go too, from the bus ride to work to sitting in a children’s play area watching your kids. Natural wool is a great basis for simple garments like scarves and cushion covers, and once you’ve honed your skills you can use the huge range of different woollen yarns to create beautiful handmade items that you – and others- will really treasure.

So, whilst it might be a good time to retire your chunky woollen sweaters, don’t rush to pack away the wool. There’s plenty more use for those wool throws, cosy socks, fine base layers and balls of yarn yet.

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Why Wool is Good for You

February 1, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Wool is definitely one of the most popular natural materials known but not many of us know the actual benefits of using wool products daily. If you have not known a lot about wool get ready for some knowledge – we are about to introduce you to wool, the durable natural material.

Wool

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Things You Did Not Know About Merino Wool

January 22, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Merino wool is considered to be one of the finest and softest types of wool available. On top of its unique qualities merino is great for all seasons and is even considered as one of the best bedding materials. Today we are presenting you some additional info about the unique type of wool – merino.

Merino wool

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Playing with Wool: Four new crafts to learn this winter

January 19, 2018 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Now that the excitement of Christmas and New Year is over we thought it would be fun to find some winter wool crafts to keep us all busy through the long, dark evenings. There’s something rather wonderful about being quietly ensconced on the sofa, curled up under a cosy wool blanket and being creative rather than just passively watching the TV. Here are some ideas for things to do with wool that will not only keep you entertained whilst you craft, but that will make lovely new things for your home and wardrobe.

wool yarn knitting craft - wool crafts

Latch-hook rug making

With the recent resurgence in all things 1970s in fashion and interior design how about embracing the trend and having a go at latch-hook rug making? Popular as a hobby since the 1930s rather than merely done out of necessity (as it had been for hundreds of years), latch-hook rug making became super fashionable in the 1970s with the introduction of cheaper acrylic yarns. It’s a brilliant way to use up and recycle old wool, whether oddments left over from other projects or unravelled wool from old sweaters.

Rugs are made by pulling strips of yarn through a base fabric (usually hessian or canvas) using a hinged hook to create a knot. You can follow a painted canvas if you want more guidance, or work on a blank background from a pattern. There are instructions on how to do latch-hook rug making here, along with lots of interesting historical information. It looks like the perfect craft to do on a rainy winter’s day.

crafting with wool winter - wool crafts(pic and rug design by Sarah Hartwell)

Wool felting

Another great way to recycle old woollen garments or blankets that have seen better days, wool felting will remind you of school science lessons when you magically turned something into another substance. Wool is composed of scaly fibres which, when heated and rubbed together or washed in hot soapy water, will shrink and bond together irreversibly. Think of your favourite cashmere sweater, turned to a doll-sized accessory by an accidental hot wash, or the angora socks that found their way into the tumble dryer by accident. The stiffness and matted feel comes from this binding of the fibres into wool felt.

To create felt deliberately you simply apply this same principle. You can knit something in wool and then machine wash on purpose to turn it into felt. You can ‘wet felt’ by hand, teasing and then rubbing the fibres together vigorously in soap and water. Larger scale operations produce felt by using a barbed felting needle. Once you’ve got the felt you can make endless lovely things, from purses to teddies, brooches to Christmas decorations. You’ll find some ideas and more suggestions here.

wool craft - felting

Knitting

Once you’ve learned the basic technique knitting is a fantastic craft. You can click away whilst cozied up in front of the TV, or use your commute to develop a new skill and make something for yourself. Scarves and hats are good things to try first, and then you can build up to more complex patterns once you’ve mastered the basics. It is relaxing and calming too, and a lovely way to make personal gifts for loved ones. Head over to this beautiful blog for inspiration, and check out Ravelry for ideas and patterns. There are lots of tutorials on Youtube, and your local library will have pattern books that you can borrow.

Crochet

Quicker than knitting and just as fun, crochet is a great way to make things, from cushion covers to rugs, as well as scarves and gifts. Using yarn and a crochet hook you simply learn the appropriate stitch for the project, building up to more complex patterns once you are confident with the basic stitches. This is a good place to start.

wool craft - crochet

If you want to take your wool crafting out of your home and meet other creative people this is the time to take up making. There are lots of lovely-looking craft cafés springing up all across the world, where people can meet and make things as they drink coffee and talk. An international community that is growing around creativity and wanting to learn something new, and where you can find inspiration for all sorts of projects. For readers in the US this website has lots of resources about wool craft, as well as a fun podcast. Just search online for ‘craft cafés’ in your local area and you will come across places like this in Leeds, UK.

Whilst a full-size wool throw might be a bit ambitious, there’s nothing to stop you whipping up something easy and beautiful, as well as learning a new skill. The perfect way to start a new year.

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Do You Recycle Your Wool Textiles?

December 8, 2017 Tags: , , , , , 2 Comments

If you are doing a pre-Christmas clear out to make room for new lovely gifts, stop for a moment before you throw anything away. It might be that that ancient jersey with a hole in the sleeve, the much-loved wool throw that has become a bit threadbare or those cashmere socks that have shrunk in the wash, could have a whole new life. Here are some thoughts on how and why we should recycle our old wool textiles.

It has been estimated that around 3.3million tonnes of textile waste goes into landfill every year in the USA alone. Whilst wool makes up only a small percentage of this, reusing and recycling 2million tonnes per year of unwanted textiles could reduce carbon emissions by the same amount as taking 1million cars off the road. Pretty mind-blowing, no? Wool is a natural fibre and is the most easily reused of all textile fibres. In fact we have been recycling wool for hundreds of years.

So if you want to know what to do with your old woollies, this is the lowdown.

recycle wool textiles

Upcycling wool

If you are crafty, or have clever friends, give your old woollen textiles to them. Wool can be felted and made into all sorts of things, or unravelled and re-knitted into something new. Pinterest and Etsy are brilliant for inspiration for up cycling projects – if you’re quick you might even have time to make some decorations or Christmas gifts!

upcycling wool christmas - recycle wool

Donating wool

Giving woollen textiles to charity shops and goodwill centres can prolong the item’s life by several years, and avoids filling up landfill. Because of its natural durability wool lasts longer than other fibres, meaning your unwanted things can have long, happy lives elsewhere. You can often donate by filling charity bags for collection.

Recycling wool

Wool is perfect for recycling and new technologies have made this process even more efficient. Valuable or top quality woollens are closed-loop recycled, which means they are deconstructed and the fibre is reused as yarn in new items. Poor quality items are open-loop recycled, where they are taken apart and the wool is used in completely different products. Examples of these wool bi-products are fire retardant mattress padding, blankets and car sound insulation. These new uses can increase the lifespan of the wool fibres by up to 10 more years, which is pretty neat.

how to recycle wool

Discarding wool

As a last resort, wool can be discarded into landfill. Thankfully, as all its carbon comes from the plants eaten by sheep it is biodegradable and will fairly quickly decompose. In fact wool actually adds its nutrients back into the soil, making this far less damaging for the environment than throwing out other synthetic materials.

And once you’ve sustainably disposed of your old items and invested in some beautiful new textiles, you can prevent further waste by only washing them when absolutely necessary, buying good quality products that will have a longer lifespan, and then reusing or recycling these at the end of their time with you.

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What’s So Special About Mohair?

September 13, 2017 Tags: , , , , 1 Comment

We’ve looked at different types of wool in previous posts, and this week it’s the turn of mohair. This beautiful wool is known as the ‘Diamond fibre’, due to its high lustre and inherent strength. But what else is special about mohair?

How to distinguish mohair wool?

Well, first it’s important to distinguish it from another type of wool, angora, which comes from the angora rabbit. Mohair wool actually comes from the angora goat, named after Ankara in Turkey where the goats flourished after moving down from the mountains of Tibet centuries ago. See how things get a bit confusing? Just remember: the angora goat is a large, curly-fleeced creature (from which we get mohair wool); the angora rabbit is a super-cute fluffball of far smaller proportions (from which we get angora wool).

Mohair wool - Angora goat - WoolMe

Mohair goats are now farmed worldwide, with the main areas of production in South Africa and Texas, USA. They are shorn twice a year, then the fleece is washed, combed and ‘worsted’ spun into yarn. It is sometimes mixed with other fibres, but is fantastic on its own. Mohair wool is used in a huge range of products, from bespoke tailored suits to soft scarves, upholstery to teddy bears. The finer wool from younger goats is usually used to make clothes and wool throws, whilst the thicker wool is used for heavier items.

mohair-teddy-bear(Image courtesy of Merrythought.co.uk)

So why is mohair so popular and revered?

The answer lies in its properties. As the fibres have fewer scales on the external layer than sheep wool, mohair is extremely soft, which makes it perfect for people with sensitive skin or who find sheep wool a bit itchy. It is also insulating, without absorbing heat, so it regulates your body temperature. Unwanted odours are avoided thanks to its natural anti-bacterial properties, and it will wick away moisture from your body to keep you feeling fresh and warm. Elasticity is another brilliant function of mohair, as its fibres can be twisted and shaped without being damaged. Mohair is lightweight and also non-flammable unless exposed to an open flame, which has resulted in it being used in some airline upholstery. But don’t let its light weight fool you – this is one tough yarn, withstanding up to three times the rubbing of sheep wool. It also takes dye remarkably well, making it a great choice for vibrant colours.

mohair throw - WoolMe

Want to see for yourself? Snuggle up with one of our elegant mohair throws and experience the joys of this special wool.

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Have You Heard About Yarn bombing?

August 1, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

As you know, we love wool for its versatile beauty and its super cosiness, but this magical fabric has also found its way out of people’s homes and into the streets. The phenomena of ‘yarn bombing’ began around 12 years ago in the USA and has spread across the world, so we thought we’d give you the lowdown on this fun craft.

yarn bombing art street

What is yarn bombing?

Yarn bombing takes knitting and crochet from being a hobby or means of decorating your home, and places it in public spaces. Think of it as removable graffiti, but made from wool rather than paint. From a small item like a scarf thrown around a statue’s neck, to an entire bus covered in crochet squares, yarnbombing is a way of brightening up a community and being creative with an urban space. Mundane objects like lampposts, benches and signposts are transformed by colourful knitted pompoms, tubes, squares and other shapes. The aim is to make people smile as they pass by, and to make a harsh city environment feel more welcoming and personal.

Sometimes yarn bombing is used to make a peaceful political statement, for example the covering of a Copenhagen tank in pink yarn as a protest against the war in Iraq. But often it is seen more as an art installation, and increasingly crafters are working alongside local authorities to create temporary displays across towns and cities as part of a specific project. Emma Leith, a knitting and crochet artist and teacher who has worked on projects in Bath, UK (including Bath in Fashion in conjunction with fashion designer Zandra Rhodes), has kindly given us permission to use some of the images from her 2016 project. These will give you a great idea of how playful and fun yarnbombing can be, and how a street can be transformed by such a simple fabric and a bit of imagination (see below).

Bath+in+Fashion+Yarn+Bomb+2016+the+big+bunch Bath+in+Fashion+2016+yarn+bomb+No+Entry Yarn Bombing

It is worth noting that successful yarnbombing is done in collaboration with local authorities. This ensures that health and safety requirements are met and that the yarn bombs are not seen purely as graffiti or vandalism and swiftly removed. For example, YBLA, a yarnboming group based in Los Angeles, work on large-scale projects with city governments, museums and art spaces to create accessible, site-specific street art. For more information about yarnbombing, this book is a good start.

So, if you fancy jazzing up your local streets and have a few crafty friends, why not approach your council and ask permission to adorn your town in brilliant yarn? Or if you’d rather just enjoy the pleasures of wool in your own home, bring some summer brightness indoors with one of our sumptuous wool throws.

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Cashmere: A story of luxury

June 7, 2017 Tags: , , , , 5 Comments

For many of us cashmere wool has become synonymous with status and luxury. From classic wardrobe staples like a cashmere cardigan to wackier incarnations like Narciso Rodriguez’s 1990’s cashmere-covered Birkenstocks and Toast’s cashmere espadrilles, this versatile wool has kept us in style, and cosy, for years. In this post we unpick the story of this fabulous fibre.

History of cashmere

himalayas - history of Cashmere

Cashmere originated in the mountains of Inner Mongolia, China, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan, where the Capra Hircus goats have roamed for centuries. As early as the 14th Century people were using the fleece of these goats to make warm blankets and garments to help them through the punishing Himalayan winters. In the 18th Century, with the growth of the British Empire and the expansion of world trade routes, cashmere was exported across Europe and the Americas. It became very popular with aristocratic women, who loved its softness and warmth and wore cashmere shoulder shawls as the height of fashion and good taste. The Industrial Revolution saw a great expansion in the production of cashmere, with centres of production growing in France, Italy and Scotland. Cashmere’s popularity then dipped until the 1980s when designers began using the wool in exclusive, luxury garments. It became a symbol of wealth and high fashion, but has now found its way onto the high street with stores mixing it with lower quality fibres to keep prices down. The proliferation of cheaper cashmere has meant more people have access to its super soft cosiness, but has also meant quality is not always maintained.

How is cashmere produced?

Domestic goats are shorn or combed to collect the fine fibres, but wild goats are also a valuable source of this wool, leaving clumps to be collected during the moulting season when they rub themselves on trees and rocks to shed their coats for summer. Once the wool has been gathered it is scoured or washed to remove any dirt, dried and then de-haired (separating the main coat from the cashmere hair). Usually only about 20% of what is gathered can be classed as true cashmere. This is then dyed, spun, knitted or woven.

CASHMERE goat

Why is cashmere so expensive?

It’s a simple matter of supply and demand: it can take up to four years for a goat to produce enough cashmere wool to make one sweater. The fact that it is so time-consuming to produce means its value is increased. But it’s not just this that makes cashmere such a pricey fabric. The fibres are longer, finer, stronger and more isothermal than sheep wool, making it an ideal choice for clothes and blankets. Its melting softness adds to its appeal, with people willing to pay more for a garment that will offer them greater comfort.

How to wash cashmere

Always follow the care instructions on your garment, but most good quality cashmere can be washed in cold water (below 30 degrees) on a delicate cycle or by hand. Use a mesh bag to protect the wool if washing in a machine. Lay the item flat on a towel to dry to keep its shape and prevent stretching. Never tumble dry (unless you want your precious cashmere sweater to end up as a tiny doll’s dress!).

Cashmere throw

With such a prestigious heritage, and being so hard-to-come-by it’s no wonder that cashmere remains a luxury fabric. Our cashmere throws will bring this simple opulence into your home in an understated way, keeping you and your loved ones warm and cosy as well as looking exquisite.

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The Benefits of Wool: 7 Reasons why we love it

April 11, 2017 Tags: , , , , , 7 Comments

lambswool

If you are not in love with wool yet, here are 7 reasons why you should be (and none of them are to do with cute lambs frolicking in the fields, though we do also love these). Whether you are curling up under a merino throw or picnicking on an alpaca blanket, wool has endless uses around the home. And it’s beneficial in so many ways. Here’s why we are head over heels for wool:

1.Breathable

Unlike synthetic fibres which can leave you hot and sweaty, wool allows your body to breath. This means you stay comfortable, and not shiny-of-face. Which is always a bonus. A heavenly cashmere throw draped over your bed will keep you cosy but not stuffy, whilst pure merino wool clothing provides insulation as well as feeling pleasant against your skin.

mohair-throws

2.Moisture-wicking

Wool can absorb up to 33% of its weight in moisture, which it then releases during the day. Which means that any sweat you produce during the night will be absorbed and dissipated by a wool throw. Alpaca socks are brilliant for this – they need surprisingly little washing as the sweat they absorb is simply released back into the air. No smelly feet or sweat-drenched nights, just simple, luxurious comfort.

3.Fire-retardant

No need for nasty chemical retardants, wool has inbuilt fire-repelling qualities. Which makes it kind of like a super hero, don’t you think?

4.Environmentally friendly

Well sourced wool, from happy sheep, is biodegradable and its production has minimal impact on the environment. So you can snuggle up safe in the knowledge that you are not harming the planet, and you are providing an income for hardworking farmers.

5.Versatile

From wool throws to knitted scarves, wool is amazingly versatile. There are many different types of wool, so you can pick products or yarns with just the right qualities you need – from super softness to durability.

merino-wool-throws

6.Holds bright colours

Wool is able to hold bright colours, meaning you don’t have to plump for earthy natural tones if you’d rather something bolder. Colours stay bright and wear brilliantly, making it a great choice for modern interiors.

7.Hypoallergenic

Some synthetic fibres can cause itchiness or rashes, but not wool. It is gentle on even the most sensitive skins and doesn’t aggravate conditions like asthma because dust mites hate it. This makes it perfect for pillows and bedding if you are an allergy-sufferer. No more waking up with sore eyes, sniffles or unpleasant congestion.

Convinced? Great! Why not hop over to our store and enjoy the benefits of wool for yourself and your family?

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The Unique Type of Wool Overlooked by Most – Merino Wool

August 19, 2016 Tags: , , No Comments

While most of us are well aware of natural fibres such as linen, wool and cotton, the more unique ones such as merino wool are often overlooked. This natural fibre has a lot of unique qualities and benefits making it one of the greatest natural fibres you can find. The simple natural fibre, taken from Merino sheep – merino wool is fluffy in appearance, but very lightweight.

Merino Wool - WoolMe

Able to retain and diffuse heat as needed because of its insulating qualities merino wool is perfect for people with sensitive skin and great for cold weather.

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