How to Prevent Pilling, Shrinking and Moth Damage in Your Woollens

October 13, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

We all love our woollens, from sweaters to socks, blankets to beanies. So what do we do when they start to look worn, or get damaged? Here are some tips on how to avoid pilling, shrinking and moths eating your beloved wool textiles. It’s important to note that high quality, natural woollens will last longer and look better than cheaper acrylics or synthetic fibres, due to the inherent durability and longer fibres in pure wool. So first things first: invest in decent woollens in the beginning and you’ll get far more use for your money. But if things go wrong, here’s how to solve some of the major problems with wool.

Woollens - WoolMe

Your wool throw has gone rough and stiff

Imagine this: you bought a beautiful new throw in softest wool and have used it as many times as you can without washing. When you realise it needs a refresh you put it in the washing machine on a low temperature and hope for the best. But it comes out feeling rough or stiff, all the snuggliness has gone. What happened? Well, maybe you shouldn’t have washed it in the machine. Unless otherwise marked on your garment’s care instructions it’s best to wash woollens by hand, in cool water. The other cause could be your detergent. Normal laundry liquids are too harsh for wool, so make sure you use a specially-formulated  detergent, like The Laundress Wool and Cashmere, or Ecover Delicate. These contain natural enzymes and no chemicals, and are as good for the planet as they are for your woollies. Make sure you choose a detergent that carries the Woolmark logo, so you know it’s suitable.

If you have already got a less-than soft woolly, try hand washing in cool water with a wool detergent and using a wool fabric softener. Rinse thoroughly and dry outside, away from the sun, and flat. This should revive the fibres and increase the softness, though it may never be quite the same. The key here is prevention.

wool-blanket-throw - WoolMe

Your woollen sweater has pilling

Pilling (those annoying little bobbles that appear on woollen items) is caused by the friction of two surfaces rubbing together. It often occurs in areas like armpits or the sides of a sweater where a bag might hang against it. If you see pilling on a woollen garment you can use a lint roller or special pill shaver to remove them. Longer pills can even be carefully snipped off with scissors or a razor. Avoid a recurrence by washing the item inside out and only use a liquid detergent that is specifically for wool. Dry the item naturally. Natural, top grade pure wool will pill less as the fibres are longer and therefore are not as easily forced to the surface when rubbed.

Your woolly socks have shrunk

Oh the horror of removing your much-loved cosy alpaca wool socks from the machine, only to discover they would only just about fit a Barbie doll! Wool doesn’t actually shrink. In fact, wool is a protein, which means when it’s washed too vigorously or in too high temperatures the fibres in the wool stick together, giving the appearance of shrinkage. If the damage has been done you can stretch the garment while still damp, but sadly there is no way to fully reverse this. Make sure it doesn’t happen by following the manufacturer’s care instructions to the letter. Wash only with appropriate detergent, use cool water and the delicate cycle if you are machine washing, and don’t tumble dry.

Moths are eating your woollens

An infestation of moths can be disastrous. They can chomp through woollen clothes and textiles, but also lots of other things too, ruining much-loved belongings. To prevent getting moths in the first place make sure you only store woollens when they are clean. Use zipped bags if you are storing things over the summer months. Make insect-repellant bags filled with dried lavender and cedar wood, then place these in every drawer or hang in your wardrobe. If you have an infestation already, throw out anything that is beyond repair, keeping the rubbish bag tightly sealed and discard immediately. Place the remaining items in sealed plastic bags and put in the freezer to kill any eggs or larvae. Give your wardrobe and drawers a thorough clean out and wash everything else in there. You can get chemical moth repellant products to treat the problem, or call out a pest controller to deal with a really major infestation.

preventing-moths-wool

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5 Essential Ingredients For a Snug and Cozy Autumn

September 27, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

With the weather turning cooler and the nights getting longer, it’s time to turn inwards and focus on ways to make our homes super snug and cozy for Fall. Making a home feel cozy is not just about paying attention to how things look or getting some wool blankets. It’s also about the smells, the tactile fabrics and the light that all contribute to that fuzzy glow. Remember the feeling when you were a child of coming into the house after playing in the snow, or running about outside in the cool air, and walking into a fuggy kitchen, full of the scents of cooking and warmth from the stove? That’s what we are aiming to recapture. A sense of safety and calm, of coming home.

We’ve gathered together a list of our 5 key must-haves for the ultimate in making sure you have a warm and inviting home that feels like a shelter in any storm.

Fire (or candles)

cozy-fall-home-fire - WoolMe

If you are fortunate enough to have an open fire or woodburning stove, now is the time to stack your logs and get the chimney swept. There is nothing that compares to the sight and sounds of a fire blazing in the hearth, and there is something deeply rooted about our wish to gaze into the flickering flames. If you can’t light fires in your home, try lighting a fire in the garden or on the beach if you can, just to connect to this ancient need for heat and light. Candles also bring the same soft light and cozy feel to a room, so stock up on good quality ones and light them as soon as the sun starts disappearing.

Wool blankets

Wool blankets - WoolMe

Essential for cozying up on the sofa in front of the TV, or slinging over your bed for some extra warmth, wool blankets or throws are great investment. Pure wool will regulate your body temperature and keeps you snug without overheating. Thanks to its anti-bacterial properties it’s easy to care for, and will last for years if looked after properly. In the summer your wool throw can double as a picnic rug, meaning you get maximum use out of it. Choose soft, muted colours for a minimalist look, or go for something bright to add a pop of colour. Go here for more on how to choose a wool throw.

Baking

Baking-snug-home - WoolMe

The smell of freshly baked bread is the ultimate in comfort for the senses. If you have time in the evening or over the weekend, make a large batch of dough and divide into smaller portions. Freeze these in bags so you can just defrost it in the morning and throw it in the oven later. Sharing fresh bread with friends and family is one of life’s joys, and will make your home feel magical. If bread isn’t your thing, think about dishes you can bake that are easy and have a satisfying aroma. Even if you only have time to whip up some store-cupboard biscuits, the scents and heat from the oven will warm your soul as well as your house.

New bedding

pure-linen-bedlinen - LinenMe

In the colder months, more than ever, our bed needs to be just the right temperature – not so hot that we are uncomfortable, but warm enough to let us sleep deeply and peacefully. Investing in some new bedlinen, preferably in a natural material like linen, will help you get a decent night’s sleep on those long winter nights. Opt for rich, deep tones if you want to add some autumnal colour to your bedroom, or keep things simple and calming with neutral shades. Buy top quality bedlinen that will last for years and that is practical (easy to wash and dry), so you can hunker down in a meltingly soft bed and sleep like a (well-behaved) baby.

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What’s So Special About Mohair?

September 13, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

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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How to Choose the Right Wool Throw

August 21, 2017 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

how-to-choose-wool-throw

With the end of summer in sight (sorry!) our thoughts are turning to cozying up for autumn. We can almost smell the woodsmoke and hot chocolate already. If you are thinking of investing in a new wool throw for your home but need some help choosing the right one, here’s a handy guide. Whether you are looking for an extra-special luxe blanket, or a hardwearing wool throw for the family to snuggle up under, we can help.

For a luxe, exquisite wool throw

Cashmere is what you are after. Long renowned for its ultra-softness and incredible warmth, cashmere is the ultimate in luxury wool. Our cashmere throws are crafted from top quality cashmere wool, and spun into meltingly soft throws that are perfect for the bedroom or for lounging on the sofa (you might want to keep it all to yourself though). A cheaper option is one of our cashmere/ merino throws, made from a combination that blends the best qualities of the two types of wool into one gorgeous, superfine blanket.

cashmere-throw-blanket

For a great all-rounder

If you are looking for a versatile, hard-wearing throw that can withstand family life without stinting on style, go for a pure wool throw. These are perfect for cuddling up in front of the TV, or throwing on the grass for a picnic, or draping over a bed on a chilly evening. Wool will keep you warm without being stuffy, and has inherent anti-bacterial properties, so you can keep cleaning to a minimum. A good wool throw will last for years, meaning you could be investing in a family heirloom, with all the memories of family picnics, holiday film-watching and being tucked into bed woven into every fibre.

wool-throw

For some subtle pattern

If you want to bring some pattern into your interior, without going for all-out bold, statement pieces, one of our alpaca throws might be just what you need. Crafted from a blend of wool and supersoft alpaca yarn, these throws have a subtle plaid pattern and come in three delightful muted colour ways. Ideal for complementing the minimalist/ Scandi-chic look with a gentle swathe of colour.

alpaca-throw

For sustainable, long-lasting softness

Merino wool is used worldwide as an insulating material – from thermal undergarments to bedsocks – and with good reason. It is incredibly warm yet very soft and lightweight, making it a great choice for people with sensitive skins or who find pure wool a bit itchy. Our merino throws are produced from sustainably sourced wool and will last a lifetime if properly looked after, making them an ideal addition to an environmentally-friendly home in need of a pop of colour or some extra softness.

merino-wool-throw

For something bright and cosy, with a hint of luxury

Our mohair throws come in a delightful red and blue colourway, and are crafted from a blend of superfine merino wool and luxurious mohair. The design is bold yet charming, inviting you to curl up with a book under its warmth, or stand outside on a winter’s evening staring at the stars with it draped around your shoulders. Charming, unusual yet ultimately homely and cozy. What else could you need?

mohair-throw

And the fantastic thing about all these wool throws is that even if the sun shines on well into September, you can use them for wild camping nights sleeping outdoors, or impromptu picnics on the beach, or building the best sofa forts the summer vacation ever saw. Season upon season, a wool throw will bring you joy and comfort.

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Have You Heard About Yarnbombing?

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 ‘yarnbombing’ 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.

yarnbombing-art-street

What is yarnbombing?

Yarnbombing 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 yarnbombing 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 YarnBomb004

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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Different Types of Wool: the lowdown on merino

July 16, 2017 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

One of the most popular types of wool used in textiles and clothing is merino. Soft, hardwearing and cosy, you will find this wool in garments from thermal underwear and sports base layers to woollen blankets and designer suits.

merino sheep

So why is merino such a superstar fabric? Well, the answer lies with Nature. Originating in Spain, Merino sheep now traditionally graze in the high altitude and extreme temperatures of the New Zealand Southern Alps, and the high rainfall areas of Australia. Their coats have evolved to produce a thick, warm fleece to ensure they survive the freezing mountain winters, and a finer coat that is grown in spring once the heavier fleece has been shed or shorn. Once humans started using the wool and harnessing these temperature-regulating properties, merino wool grew in popularity.

new-zealand-merino

But merino wool doesn’t just keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. Other beneficial qualities include:

  • Anti-microbial properties mean that merino doesn’t allow bacteria from sweat to develop into odours.
  • Moisture wicking Merino can absorb up to one third its weight in liquid, keeping moisture away from your skin. It will also keep you warm, even when wet, making it a popular choice as a base layer for skiing and winter sports.
  • Soft and silky Unlike some woollen fabrics, merino is superfine and soft to touch, meaning it is not itchy. It feels light, as well as snuggly.
  • Resilient Anything that has developed to withstand the extremes of mountain weather is going to be hardwearing and long lasting. Merino wool is strong yet naturally durable, and retains its shape due to the elasticity of the fibres.
  • Sustainable Naturally-occurring, biodegradable and renewable, merino’s eco credentials are something special too (though the controversial practice of mulesing to prevent fly strike means you might want to check the source of your wool if you want to be sure of ethical production).

Coral-Merino-Wool-Throw-Rhomb

Don’t just take our word for it, experience the magic of merino for yourself with one of our sumptuous merino throws. Our range of blankets come in a variety of designs, from simple block colours to multi-coloured patterns. Each one combines the luxurious comfort and cosiness of merino wool, with the functionality of this brilliant textile. Whether you are looking for a throw to curl up with on the sofa or a blanket to brighten your bedroom, we’ve got you covered.

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5 Must-haves for A Perfect Summer Picnic

June 22, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

With the warm, long days of summer many of us love eating outdoors, whether in our own gardens, a local park or out in the wilds. Wherever you choose, we’ve gathered up the 5 essential things you will need for the perfect picnic. To make sure you are comfortable, well fed and fully able to make the most of the glorious weather and scenery, read on.

1.Picnic blanket or rug

Perhaps the most important of all picnic accessories, a good blanket is key. You want something hardwearing yet soft to touch, something that can be cleaned easily and that is light enough to carry. Our wool throws tick all these boxes. Made from merino, alpaca, mohair and cashmere our wool throws come in a wide range of designs so you can pick one that works with your interior as well as being a beautiful picnic accessory. We love this throw in dusky pink – a perfect match for tupperware and picnic plates in fresh summer pastels and ice cream tones. Ideal for stretching out on under a tree, or for sitting all the family around you as you share some food.

canyon-rose-wool-throw-roberto

2.Durable plates and cups

You needn’t settle for tacky plastic plates and cups, or disposable paper ones. If you want a stylish picnic with sustainably-made dining accessories, choose something like these gorgeous bamboo bowls by Habitat. Mix up different colours for interest, or choose a co-ordinated set if you want a more coherent look.

bamboo picnic bowls

3. Picnic basket

Go for a traditional wicker picnic basket (this one is cute) or something more contemporary, like this nifty boat-shaped vintage-inspired basket. You need something spacious enough to carry your supplies, but not too unwieldy and bulky. A basket is better than a bag as it gives more structured support for its contents, avoiding crushing and squashing. Once the picnic is over, use the basket to store those annoying bits that are usually lying around the house, like Sellotape and stray batteries, then simply decant these into a tub when you need the basket again.

4. A good knife

A decent, versatile knife is essential to happy picnicking. Choose something with a guard, to prevent you cutting yourself. You want a knife that will be as happy cutting bread as slicing through a watermelon, something you can wipe clean and store safely away once you’ve finished with it. We love these stainless steel knives that can handle anything a picnic might throw at them.

5. Napkins

If you want an environmentally-friendly alternative to baby wipes, pack a few linen napkins in your picnic basket. These pure linen napkins are machine washable, meaning you don’t need to worry about stains, and are soft but extremely hardwearing. Their inherent creases are part of their charm, making them an easy go-to for mopping up spills, wiping sticky fingers and dealing with all eventualities.

linen napkins picnic

 

Just add some deliciously simple food, a flask of tea or cooled bottle of bubbly, and great company for the perfect picnic.

For more ways to enjoy our wool throws and blankets in your home or outdoors, go here and here.

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Cashmere: A story of luxury

June 7, 2017 Tags: , , , , No 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

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!).

beige-red-50cashmere-50-merino-superfine-throw-everest-square

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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Beautiful Ways to Bring Wool Into Your Home

May 23, 2017 Tags: , , , , 1 Comment

We love woollen throws and blankets for their versatility, cosiness and general loveliness, and we thought it would be fun to show you some ways you can bring complimentary wool products into your home. Wool chairs anyone? These pieces are luxe designer products that would compliment any of our wool throws, and would bring something unusually beautiful into any interior.

Alternative flooring: wool rugs

Luxurious yet simple, Moroccan Berber rugs are having a moment. These pure wool rugs are handmade high in the Atlas mountains and each has its own unique patina and imperfections. Wool makes a great fabric for flooring because it is hardwearing and non-toxic. We think it would pair perfectly with our steel grey Roberto wool rug.

wool berber rug

Wool lampshades

For a unique way to use wool in your home, you could invest in a stunning wool lampshade. Who knew? These gorgeous felted wool lampshades come in 32 colours, meaning you can choose exactly the right one for your interior. Team this lovely mustard one with our stylists’ favourite grey and gold Alberto throw.

wool lampshade

(pic via quirk.com)

Wool furniture

Oh my, this chair has got us all a-flutter. It’s sleek and contemporary, unusual and comfortable. And it’s made from wool. It’s a new spin on the classic Eames mid-century design, made by innovative brand Solidwool, who set about turning around the fortunes of a declining wool town by creating a new material that combines sustainable wool with non-toxic bio-resins. Their products are functional yet stunning. Drape with one of our Luigi blankets in canyon rose for an instantly stylish yet soft look.

wool chair

Wool tapestry

Wool is perfect for weaving and creating not just functional objects – it can also be a piece of art. This lovely tapestry was created by artists Kathryn Swailes and Caron Penney and is handwoven from wool, cotton, linen and gilt gold. It is framed behind non-reflective glass and would make an amazing centrepiece for your wall.

 

Other ideas

Check out Jane Walker’s exquisite designs screen and digitally printed onto wool cloth, or these quirky cone-shaped seats crafted from steam-pleated wool by designer Jule Waibel. And of course, our pure wool, super soft, durable blankets will always look great in any home.

 

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