Well, in the first place sheep
are nice, gentle animals. They make sense for many
reasons, including marvelously varied and multipurpose
fiber, good nature, and low ecological footprint—at
least the way we do it, keeping them as they like to be
kept. A sheep on pasture is a happy sheep.
With only 20 percent of the sheep in the
that we had mid-century, sheep are a declining animal in
We think that’s a shame.. With their many virtues, and
useful coats, more small flocks would be a good thing.
What kind of sheep?
Lots of kinds would do, and
that’s good because there ARE lots of kinds! Our
sheep are Jacobs, an ancient, rather rare breed named
from the book of Genesis where Jacob’s father paid him
in spotted animals. We like them for their interesting,
multi-colored fleece which are very good for hand
spinning and felting, The strange and exotic
multi-horns are just a bonus.
For articles best done with very soft, fine hair we have
a Pygora goat (Pygmy/Angora cross) and two Cashmere
goats, which we inherited because they turned out to be
vicious killers of our neighbor’s trees. (Think of
deer in your garden--goats like to browse on woody
plants, so they can’t really run loose around your place
if you love your shrubs. But they like living with
our sheep so that’s okay.). [ top ]
How come you
like wool products?
Wool is a great
fiber, really the original microfiber without some of
the negative side effects--a lot of the new tech fabrics
are petroleum based and made by blowing air through an
essentially plastic substance. That’s a great
invention, but not exactly disposable or biodegradable.
Anyway, we like a Gortex coats as much as anyone, and
appreciate synthetic fleece in some applications, but
the properties that you like in those—they don’t pick up
water easily—are a negative in the uses we’re talking
Wool is not as immediately absorbent as cotton or
paper products, due to its relatively long and stout
fibers--3-5 inches rather than an inch or less.
But once formed, it can hold a huge amount of water
without losing its fundamental shape. This is also
why wool can pick up a startling amount of grime
and wash it out again. Add to that, each fiber is
covered with rows of tiny scales which make it very
slightly rough. This is also why not all wool is
nice to wear next to your skin, only the softer, smaller
gauge kinds are comfortable.
So wool’s slightly varying roughness is something we
work with. [ top ]
The wool things look different from one another, Why?
We make several
different Woolies for different purposes—some of which
our clients figure out in the course of their use.
The soap woolies are not felted as tightly (they
will felt down more densely as you use them, and working
them too much uses up more of the soap that we’d like
our clients to enjoy. So they tend to look a bit
loose at first. We use finer grade wool for the
people Wooly Washers, a slightly heavier one for the
We have several grades of cleaning wool, from fairly
loose and soft to quite tight and more fabric-like.
The cleaners also tighten down during the course of
their life, so you will see them change over time.
They actually get better with some use.
Another reason for the difference is they are all hand
made, right here on the farm. Things go differently on
different days. Each fleece is slightly unique
both in color and texture. And sometimes we just like to
play with it a bit, or add something fun. They all
work pretty much the same way. [ top ]
Can you wash them? What do you do when they are
Don’t wash the ones
with soap in them! The unloaded medium to dense
Woolies can be washed. They will get more dense if
you do this, particularly if you put them in the
dryer. This may or may not be a problem for
you—they work quite well in both forms, tight and super
tight, but it’s something to think about. Also, if
having a different color fiber or two on some special
clothing would bug you, then wash them with the same
But really, if
you just rinse them out and hang them they will be fine. [ top ]
of soap and oil do you use?
For the leather Woolies we use a
pure coconut oil and glycerine saddle soap, In the
human ones we use a blend of two Auravadic coconut oil
based soaps. These soaps are hard to finds, but
very good if your hands tend to chap or crack around the
cuticle. They smell great—not flowery or too
strong, just right. Our saddle oil is based on
light olive oil with lemon grass and sandalwood
essential oils blended in.
Why the bling?
We will often thread a little
sparkle though the fiber just because it is fun.
Don’t worry about wrecking them--even if they are
pretty. Think of the Tibetan monks sand paintings.
You might as well work with something interesting as
something dull. [ top ]
Can I wear these?
No, the fiber is coarser than
the fleeces we use for clothing—BUT—if you take a look
at products you may find a gem or two listed. And
we do sell hand spun yarn if you like to knit.
What have you cleaned with the various Woolies?
In the kitchen, my
refrigerator—the outside—stove, sink, counter tops,
cabinets, vinyl floors, silver.. Not with the same
Wooly though! They are great for the outside of
stainless steel appliances and teapots.
In the bathroom (with three separate Woolies) The
mirror, the sink (great around the drains) faucets,
bathtub and toilet. Most of the time I start with
a dry one and that actually works pretty well on shiny
surfaces, then add a little window cleaner spray or
You can use less (or sometimes no) cleaning product than
you would with paper. The wool slides pretty well on its
own, and picks up dirt and dust. Oily or gummy
areas are good with a drop of dish soap and hot water
In the tack room I have cleaned my bits, bridles,
saddles, spurs, and the tack room itself. [ top ]
Why not just use
paper towels, sponges or cotton?
One rule of a
healthy diet is to not eat anything that your great
grandmother would not recognize. That might be a
good idea to expand on. Cleaning with wool is not a new
idea, it’s just that the marketing for disposable paper
products eclipsed it some time ago. Wool
works equally or better for most cleaning jobs than
these do, but there some other important points to think
Paper towels are made of wood pulp, produced by a
chemically and energy intensive production and
distribution system. You can buy unbleached
natural ones, but most people look at the price tag and
are tempted not to. (Why it costs more to skip a
process, is a mystery to me, but so be it.)
Commercial sponges are made of petroleum products, do
not decompose particularly well, and they smell
terrible. Sponges have holes, not fibers and are great
for holding water but as a house cleaning tool they
don’t have much to recommend them, other than they are
Cotton has had a lot of paid public relations work done
over the years to brand it as “pure and natural”.
But if you think of the huge pesticide load it takes to
grow it, the machinery it takes to harvest it is not a
harmless entity. Hemp or bamboo are better choices
for soft cloths. I’m not advocating wool undies
here, though they do exist, just noting that cotton is
not as harmless as people think, and surely not for
cleaning with its relatively short fibers--usually les
than a third of the length of a wool fiber. [ top]
How long will
That depends a
lot on how you use them. The soap-filled ones will
run out of soap a bit slower than you would use the same
amount soap—the wool protects the soap to some extent if
you let them dry. Of course is you leave them wet, the
soap is softer when you use it next and more will come
out. The empty ones used as cloths should last
several months. Most people just cycle their use:
first in the cleanest areas, and as they get older to
the dirtier ones. [ top ]
The Dead Wooly
The perfect end
for a wooly is buried in the garden. They
decompose very well, and in the meantime add nutrients
and hold water for your plants. Some people even
put them in the base of a flower pot to make watering
more even and stop the dirt from plugging up the
drainage holes.. A mesh bag of used up Woolies is
a fine thing to have around. [ top ]
What are the drawbacks?
The biggest one
that we’ve found so far is slight fiber loss, which is
not big deal if you are tack cleaning but can be
annoying in your perfectly clean sink or
tub—particularly if you are using a dark-fiber one,
which we designed mostly for the tack room.
Housecleaning is better done with the light colored
ones, and generally after the first day of use you will
find very little fiber loss. [ top ]
We also guarantee all of our products. If you use
it for a week and are not happy, contact us and we will
exchange it or refund your money. No problem.
The only other obvious drawback is really common sense
hygiene that you’d use daily anyway. Don’t move
contamination from your bathroom or the barn to your
kitchen sink and from there to your food. Though
we have had not problem and do it ourselves at home, we
don’t recommend using the woolies on food preparation
areas. For one thing, you don’t want food sticking
in the fibers and creating a breeding ground for
Also, they do not work on calcium hard water stains—not
abrasive enough. Adding white vinegar usually does the
trick. If you want to clean your barbeque with one, make
it an old one as it will be the last use!