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5th September 2019

Wool you be washing less often, too?

Wool you be washing less often, too?

We’re all being encouraged to wash our clothes less frequently for the sake of the planet and here at Higher Hill Farm we think that’s a win-win-win situation. Less work, reduced environmental impact, decreased risk of damaging your beautiful woollens! So we thought we’d head back to school too and refresh ourselves on how to wash wool.

How to wash wool if you really need to

First up - ask yourself, do you really need to wash it? Obviously, if a good airing and a gentle shake aren’t going to shift the offending mark or pong, we stand by the traditional method of washing wool - a cool bucket of water, a gentle detergent and some swooshing. No elbow grease required. Add the detergent and let it dissolve in the water before you add your inside out garment. Soak it and swirl it to lift the stain away. Don’t wring, stretch, scrub or agitate. Just swoosh.

Can I wash wool in the washing machine?

Wool as with all hair, just like your skin and fingernails, is essentially protein. Harsh chemicals are created to degrade protein-based stains! For example, if you use a detergent formulated to remove stains such as blood, it will actually start to dissolve wool. This is why your choice of detergent is absolutely critical to successful wool care. More on that here 

However, if time really is of the essence, wool washing cycles on a good quality modern machine cleverly mimic the gentle hand washing approach. You must opt for using pure soap flakes or, better still, a wool approved detergent - this will help the water slide between the fibres of the wool to cleanse it. 

It might be an idea to use a WashSafe bag in the machine to protect your delicate wool from the drum too.

 Woolwash works wonders

We always use Woolwash because its pH neutral formula is safe to use on wool, alpaca, mohair, silk, cashmere, llama, angora and opossum. It doesn’t contain synthetic perfumes, phosphates, peroxide, alkali, enzymes or bleach - unlike most other detergents. It's even safe to use with sheepskins.

It will keep your lovely natural wool clean and lustrous! Woolwash also contains a blend of gorgeous Australian essential oils including tea tree oil.  

At least please ensure that your detergent says somewhere on the packet that it is "for wool" or that safe to use on wool. If it doesn't, it isn't. Even "Gentle" and other non-bio detergents contain bleach. Bleach eats protein and will destroy wool. The bleach is not mentioned on the packet but it is almost alway inside.

Honey I shrank the kid (mohair socks)

Your arms have not grown two inches longer overnight, nor has your woollen jumper shrunk. It’s just that the fibres, when agitated by the cycle of the washing machine, have become more closely woven together, pulling the whole garment in across all directions and essentially felting it.

How to dry wool

Resist, resist the urge to put your wool in the tumble dryer! Unless it’s one of our best selling baby blankets, which has been specially created to cope with the dryer, it really isn’t going to work out well. 

Spread the garment out flat and reshape a couple of times as it dries in a warm airy place, not on top of a radiator. Wool is remarkably mouldable, if you tackle it at the right stage of the drying process. 

Brush with genius

If it’s a sheepskin that needs attention, there’s nothing much more satisfying in life than taking one of our special sheepskin brushes to it and teasing out the offending matted lump. Have a first go while it is still half-wet and again when it's dry. Learn all about Sheepskin Care here
Just us? We spent a year researching the most eco-friendly brush out there. This sustainable bamboo brush has a strong handle and long stainless steel prongs that glide through your sheepie to keep it sumptuously springy! 

How knitters care for wool

Knitters know best 
  • Old tried and tested methods include washing you wool in a small quantity of baby shampoo.
  • If you find your wool is a bit itchy, try a little hair conditioner in the rinse. This helps soften it so it will be less likely to tickle the nerve ending in you skin 
  • Another expert recommended rinsing your garment in a tub filled with very diluted vinegar to soften the fibres. This is antibacterial andshould eliminate any nasty whiffs too. 

How will you wash your wool?

Class dismissed! If you have any questions about how to wash wool, please comment (below). We’re keen to keep your lovely woollen goodies in tip top condition and we want to know your own top tips.

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Notes from the Village

Our local farm shop, Village Greens, is a not-for-profit, run by lovely people to serve our local community on Bodmin Moor. They provide local and organic produce, fabulous cooked breakfasts and great company in our sometimes lonely but bucolic idyll. We love what they do for our community, we love their gorgeous cakes and produce and want to share their weekly newsletter. In it Di provides beautiful and amusing insights into modern organic smallholding and farming life. Come and join us on Friday mornings if you can - bring a shopping bag too, but in the meantime, sit back, read on and enjoy...  
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The Great Escape, a recurring theme.

The bids for freedom by various species continue to come thick and fast. This time it was one of our own hens who decided to go rogue. Following an afternoon happily browsing the garden for slugs and grubs, they are pretty reliable about coming home for tea, and then being shut in to roost overnight. However, one of the chooks is feeling a bit broody, and her motherly instinct made her lay an egg in a clump of long grass and settle down to keep it warm. So it was that she camped out overnight, risking an encounter with a hungry fox. Being that we have no cockerel here made her effort entirely futile, and she's been carefully kept close to home ever since, until her desire to hatch a chick has passed. Thankfully, the pigs have obligingly stayed put, but it's surely only a matter of time.
 
We've got a feast of cheese in the chiller for you at the shop this week, with Stilton and Red Leicester as well as the usual Cheddar. They are all delicious and versatile.
Lots of great fruit and veggies too, including pointy cabbage, calabrese, local cucumbers and runner beans, and still doughnut peaches are available. We had a blissfully simple dessert of our own raspberries, peaches, yoghurt, and honey given to us by a neighbour. It would take some beating.Who knows what will happen to our food supplies and prices with all the uncertainty we're facing as a nation, but Village Greens will continue to supply the best local produce we can find, supplemented by other ethically grown products, from the South West wherever possible. If you can't join us on a Friday we're happy to reserve items and even do local deliveries, get in touch and have a chat, supporting your local food producers may never have been more important.
See you there
Village Greens

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