Living with wool & how to care for your woollens.
We believe that living with natural textiles is best for you and for our planet. All our textiles and woollens are 100% natural, sustainably sourced and fairly traded and where possible made using organic materials or yarn and skins from our free range mountain sheep producers. You can create a cosy, natural home for the whole family with pollution-free, unbleached and undyed materials, apparel and soft furnishings from our extensive range.
All our throws, sheepskin rugs and woollens are made from natural fibers, from luxurious merino to virgin wool and special sheep breeds: woven, felted and knitted into our vast array of designs and styles.
We produce our own yarn and virgin wool from our small biodynamic flock reared on the outskirts of Edinburgh as well as working with our producers in the Carpathians and Nepal to bring you timeless home textiles of the highest standards. We have a basic range available throughout the year and an extended unique winters collection to celebrate the winter season with the best that's on offer.
Living with natural textiles: Our Natural Home and Woollen collections here at Travelling Basket are all about soft furnishings; working with the natural materials in their rawest forms without chemicals and dyes to make your home environment more comfortable, healthy, warm and natural. People often worry about looking after and maintaining their natural textiles but following a few simple good practice guidelines means you can continue your lifestyle in the way you always have but with the added benefits of living with natural materials.
A few house rules to ensure longevity of your woollens are a simple way to enjoy them worry free: Vacuum regularly to keep dust to a minimum, air your home by opening windows and doors on bright breezy days (this freshens stale air and deters pests), use your woollens regularly and anything that is stored away should only be stored dry, clean and airtight (we recommend checking stored woollens regularly or rotating blankets to ensure frequent use as agitation also deters pests like moths). Store soap or cedar blocks in cupboards to keep the air fresh and deter pests. Dust regularly around hard to reach places, clean under the bed and use a warm soapy water to sponge down cupboards, mantelpieces and headboards etc. Most pests (moths, mice etc) don't like light so making a habit of opening shutters and blinds can prevent them from moving in.
Why wool ? There is more to choosing to use wool and other natural materials. There is a lot of scientific evidence that shows how it can improve the quality of your health and life through the quality of rest and sleep as well as the health of our planet. Synthetic materials and fabrics quite simply do not have the properties that these natural materials and fibers do and have only ever been made to mimic what occurs in nature through natural design. Synthetic fabrics have also been proven to be incredibly damaging to our health and the health of our environment.
In order to achieve a good nights sleep humans need to ensure homeostasis (that is remaining at a stable temperature through the phases of sleep). It has been scientifically proven that under most normal conditions people sleep deeper and better under wool.
Wool and goose down are excellent Insulators, they both trap lots of air creating a warm cushioning bubble around you, and are both petrochemical free. In addition wool is also a highly breathable material and can absorbs moisture readily and has excellent desorption qualities (gets rid of moisture quickly); is able to transfer moisture away from the skin maintaining stable and optimum conditions while you rest or sleep; allows for different temperature sleeping partners, and regulates your bodies temperature (after all it is designed to insulate mammals). It is also scientifically proven to enable more restful sleep and can maintain your body as cool in summer and warm in winter.
The science of sleep: Research demonstrates that, under many conditions, people sleep better if some or all of their bedding products are made from wool. Commonly known for the natural features of comfort and quality, wool bedding products have also been proven to actually help you sleep better. The moisture retention and wicking properties of wool help you to stay at an optimum temperature, drier, with less sweating and overheating. Wool fabrics and bedding breath more naturally than synthetic products, increase the duration of the most beneficial phase of sleep known as the Rapid Eye Movement sleep stage and finally enables a deeper, longer sleep.
Washing my sheepskins rugs: Looking after your sheepskin rug is actually really simple, but there are a few absolute do's and don't's to remember. Following these basic instructions should ensure its longevity and maintain the quality of your skins, but you'd be surprised how many people don't do it right and then blame the sheepskin when it goes wrong. If in doubt take it to a professional or alternatively follow the maintenance care instructions that should prolong the life of the skin before a wash is needed. Wool is an amazing natural fibre and needs far less care than a lot of other fabrics. It naturally shirks dirt and odours and very often a good shake (hang it on a line or over a fence to beat gently) or a gentle brush with a comb or pet brush will avoid the need of washing. Depending on where you keep your skins and how you use them you may occasionally want to wash them, but it is not required for their longevity.
Washing in a machine: We would always recommend hand washing as a preference as this will be the most natural and controlled way to do this but appreciate that this is not always a practical or doable solution. When washing in a machine use "wool safe" detergent, avoid fabric conditioners, keep it on the cool setting and be gentle. Here are some simple steps to follow:
Detergent: Only use natural wool approved detergents such as the ecover range or special wool detergents as most detergents contain some bleach which will irreversibly damage your skin, even the smallest amount can be very damaging so avoid it completely! You only need to use a very small amount of detergent and can even get a good result without any.
Additional detergents: Never use brighteners, anti-odour or perfume powders, pellets, whiteners, fabric conditioners, softeners or any other wash additives (except natural Lanolin). You will not manage to change the colour of the skin as that is set in the tanning process. If it looks dirty usually dry brushing is the best first approach. Wool does not readily absorb colour so its usually quite easy to remove stains without having to wash the entire thing. Always use cold or luke warm water to do this.
Setting your machine cycles: Only use the Wool or Hand Wash cycles as the Delicate cycles are not gentle enough. Only wash at 30ºC (86ºF) or less. Cold would be best (think about the sheep and does it ever take a hot bubble bath) but if the skin is quite grubby opt for the warmer setting but not above 30ºC. A very simple way to freshen up the skin without doing a full wash is to use the rinse cycle a few times, remember no additives only a little of the wool safe detergent. For a great result you can add some lanolin to the final rinse. This is a natural skin and wool conditioner (which sheep produce naturally to condition their own wool), this will aid combing and help keep the skin supple. Finally set you spin 400 RPM or less, this is very important otherwise you could mat your skin. Remove from the machine immediately after the cycle is complete and dry as follows.
Drying your sheepskin: You can begin the drying process in a new or good quality modern tumble-drier using the “Smoothing” cycle or “Wool” cycle, using no heat. You do not want to completely dry it in this way as it will become stiff and cardboard like. Aim to remove the skin from the drier when still more damp than dry and still soft and flexible. Next lay the skin flat and comb through using delicate strokes (a normal comb or pets comb is ideal for this). Don't be alarmed if some wool sheds whilst you are coming. A little shedding occurs even when it is dry we're just not normally so focused on it. Gently pull your sheepskin into shape and allow it to finish drying naturally: dry flat in a cool airy place, preferably in moving air and out of sunlight. Do not use direct heat sources (heaters, hair dryers or dehumidifiers) as this will overly dry and permanently damage your skin. Ensure it is completely dry before using your sheepskin and give it a final comb for a gorgeous loft.
Avoid: Using the wrong detergent, using any fabric conditioner or softener or other wash additive, using too much soap (even the wool approved detergents), Washing or drying too fast or too hot, using direct heat, tumble-driers, dehumidifiers, sunlight etc.
Remember it is a natural material so treat it naturally, and don't worry.