You may have noticed that we quite like wool (not that we shout about it or anything) and so you can probably imagine our excitement about the fact that it is WOOL WEEK! The best week of the year. Perhaps? Maybe not. But still, it is a very important week in our calendar because we have the best excuse in the world to talk about wool! Like we needed an excuse…
This year Wool Week is running from 5th – 18th October. So technically not a week, more like two weeks but we’ll take the extra days regardless! The week is spearheaded by Campaign for Wool (whose patron is HRH The Prince of Wales, no less) and aims to highlight the myriad of ways wool can be used, celebrating products and businesses that use this wonderful material with innovation and creativity.
Why does Wool Week need celebrating?
This year supporting the UK wool industry has never been more important. You may have read why in our recent blog post about our Operation Wool project. But to give you a quick explanation, the global wool market pretty much shut down in February resulting in vast volumes of wool lying unsold in depos which has caused the price of wool to crash and made it financially unviable for farmers to sell their sheep fleeces. Many farmers don’t have the finance to store it so instead, are burning it (which obviously has negative impacts on the environment). It is really important we help to keep the wool industry going and you can do that by buying wool products!
Wool truly is fantastic and should be celebrated! It can be used in such a breadth of different ways. Think about it, it is used in all sorts – clothing, textiles, upholstery, gardening, insulation, draught-proofing. We can use it for knitting, we can use it in carpets, rugs and art. There was even a study done by the University of Sydney that showed wool sleepwear and bedding provides people with a better night’s sleep than cotton. Is there anything wool can’t do?! Actually, don’t answer that.
Why is wool so brilliant?
Wool has some pretty unique qualities which help to make it so versatile. Here are a few of them:
- Natural – we’ve been using wool as an all-weather protection material since The Stone Age!
- Renewable – sheep’s fleeces keep growing back and it’s important that we keep taking these fleeces off for the sheep’s wellbeing.
- Biodegradable – wool can be returned to the soil when the product it has been used for comes to the end of its life. It decomposes pretty quickly, releasing valuable nutrients into the ground.
- Insulating – wool is a hygroscopic fibre so as humidity in the air increases and decreases, wool absorbs and releases water vapour. When this happens, heat is generated and retained during the absorption phase which makes the wool a natural insulator. That’s why it works so well for house insulation!
- Breathable – wool has a unique structure which allows it to absorb and release moisture (be that sweat or from the atmosphere) without affecting its thermal efficiency. It can absorb moisture of up to 30% of its own weight!
- Odour resistant – nobody likes to be smelly and wool doesn’t like it either. Wool absorbs and locks way odours during wear. The wool fibre actively binds odours within the fibre where bacteria do not thrive. As a result, the garment remains fresh for much longer. These odours are then significantly released by wool garments when laundered, with wool garments retaining less odour than cotton and synthetics after washing.
- Safe – wool is hypoallergenic and reduces VOC’s in the air. Wool can actually reduce some allergies as it can trap dust that floats around in the air and stop it from becoming an irritant. It is also naturally fire retardant. Although it will burn eventually, it has a higher ignition threshold than many other materials, thanks to its high water and nitrogen content.
- Elastic and resilient – the reason wool is so great for textiles and garments is because it is naturally very elastic. The fibres can also be bent back on themselves 20,000 times without breaking which makes it really resistant. Wool helps to make good quality clothes that keep their shape and last a long time!
- Adaptable – as we mentioned wool is hygroscopic so it adapts to the temperatures, keeping you warm when it’s cold, and cool when it’s warm.
- Easy care – wool fibres have a waxy coating which helps to make the wool fibres resistant to staining, so you don’t have to worry so much when you get that tomato sauce down your front. Even if you do, many wool garments now can be machine washed!
Chimney Sheep Wool Week products
As you know, we make lots of lovely wool products here at Chimney Sheep so we thought, in view of the fact that it is Wool Week, we had better highlight a few of them and explain why the wool makes them the effective products they are.
Chimney Sheep® draught excluder
Our original and still our best-seller – the Chimney Sheep®. Our removable chimney draught excluder is made with a thick layer of felted Herdwick wool and ensures households with open chimneys are heated as efficiently as possible by keeping the heat in and cold draughts out. Research conducted by The University of Liverpool, BSRIA and BBA has found that by using the Chimney Sheep® over a year, consumers will stop around 4.5% of household heat from escaping, reducing energy bills by about £50 and saving 250kg of CO2 per year. Due to the properties of Herdwick wool, Chimney Sheep® are highly durable and naturally breathable making them perfect to plug the gap just above a fireplace. Once inserted a Chimney Sheep® will act like a duvet, blocking airflow into and out of the chimney, whilst naturally permitting sufficient ventilation.
Our ever so cosy Snug Feet insoles add extra warmth and a bit of bounce to shoes. Made with the 100% Herdwick wool, we use the wastage felt during the production of our Chimney Sheep® draught excluders to create the insoles – no waste here! Snug Feet are great for walking boots, wellies, gardening shoes and slippers, adding a luxury layer of comfort. The odour resistant properties of wool apply here! The Herdwick fleece draws moisture away and means that the insoles stay breathable. This ensures no horrible ‘shoe smell’ can occur, without compromising on warmth. Hooray!
100% Natural Sheep’s Wool Garden Felt
Produced in Yorkshire, our 100% Natural Sheep’s Wool Garden Felt is extremely versatile with multiple uses within a garden. Made of two layers wool and a middle layer of jute the wool is completely biodegradable. The felt is dense so stops weeds from growing whilst the texture of the wool keeps slugs and snails away from plants. Due to the lovely hygroscopic qualities of wool, the garden felt releases water slowly to plants and once composted down the wool naturally provides nitrogen, potassium and phosphates. Our Garden Felt is a perfect mulch for no dig gardens, can be used to protect plants against the cold winter frost and as a growing medium!
Our lovely felt shillies are a woolly alternative to the traditional slate chippings used in gardening. Made from the scrap pieces of Herdwick felt used to make Chimney Sheep® draught excluders (did we mention we hate waste), felt shillies make the perfect garden mulch. Gardening mulch shields plants from harsh temperatures and weather conditions and the shillies give that bit of extra ‘umph’ on top of this. Just like the garden felt, these shillies are hygroscopic so less time needs to be spent watering. The felt shillies are also an effective slug and snail deterrent due to the texture of the wool as well as being protectant for plants from frost during the winter. The shillies are super easy to use – they can either be piled up around delicate plants for protection or spread out across a whole beds.
Wool is PERFECT for insulation, as we mentioned above. It is nature’s insulation and it works just as well in our homes too. It is also a really effective sound insulator. Unlike many sheep’s wool insulation products on the market, our wool insulation is 100% wool and contains no plastic additives. The wool is uniquely shaped during its manufacturing to ensure the insulation remains ‘lofty’ over the lifetime of the product, without the need for plastic to hold its shape. The benefit of using the sheep’s wool as insulation material is that it’s sustainable; at the end of its long life the insulation can be composted down, minimising its impact on the environment. The wool also works to purify the air, is hypoallergenic, reduces VOC’s in the air and has hygroscopic qualities. We have six different wool products which will insulate lofts, rooves, floors, walls – you name it we have you covered! All the insulations are treated with Ionic Protect® making it permanently 100% resistant to moth infestations without using any chemicals!
Happy Wool Week!