How to Take Care of Your Natural Wool Garments

With proper care, your natural wool garments will retain their color, softness, warmth, and beauty for countless years to come. If you have invested in a natural wool sweater, be sure to give it the little bit of TLC it requires to protect your investment! Always read care tags on any wool garment—and follow those directions.

You might be thinking, “Who has time for hand washing? It’s easier to pack those sweaters off to the dry cleaner!” A word of warning: harsh dry cleaning chemicals are harmful to natural wool, and will break down wool’s natural properties. Think of it this way: by the time you drive and pick up at the cleaners, or earn the extra money to pay for it!— you could have hand-washed that sweater!

Natural wool is not like other fabrics or textiles. For literally millennia—since Roman times—humans have treasured the flexibility and diverse properties of wool. Wool is extremely absorbent and durable—each fiber can be twisted up 20,000 times without breaking! While the scaly outer core of the fibers resists water, the inner protein core has the ability to absorb perspiration and slowly release it, insulating the wearer from heat and cold. This property evolved to enable sheep to survive in all weather—especially the cold, windy plains of northern Asia and Europe, where they are thought to have originated.

Given wool’s distinct characteristics, the safest way to wash your natural wool sweater is to hand wash it. The unnatural heat, friction and agitation in a washing machine damage the fibers, causing them to felt, and the fibers cannot return to their original shape and position. The best method to is hand wash each sweater individually, in a sink of lukewarm water, with gentle laundry soap. (Dissolve a gentle laundry soap in the water first.) When possible, spot clean wool sweater with mild soap and water and a clean rag—every washing does impact the wool, so avoid washing the whole garment if you can.

Newer washing machines may have a “hand wash” cycle with long, gentle rotation and warm water (wool can tolerate warm water, but never hot.) You may want to test this cycle with an older garment or socks before trusting your precious hand knits to the machine!

Finally, be sure to dry your clean sweater by gently rolling it up in a towel a few times to absorb excess water. Then, lay the damp sweater on a towel on a flat surface (if it’s your bed, be sure to protect the bed from becoming damp first!). Do not place sweaters in direct sun or too close to a heat source (like the top of the dryer!). Flip the sweater a few times to facilitate drying. (Some people create drying racks using a clean window screen laid on two chairs, which allows the air to pass through.) Check sweater to make it is drying—if it stays damp too long, natural wool, especially cotton blend, can mildew.

In summer, fold your wool sweaters and store in a garment bag or cedar closet. (Moths are particularly attracted to dirt, oil, and the animal proteins in wool.)

With a little extra time and attention, your natural wool garments should keep you warm and cozy for years to come.

Source: Vogue Knitting Magazine

Briggs and Little Yarn Company

Buddie Sweaters is all about tradition and time-tested quality. One of our favorite wool suppliers is Briggs and Little Woolen Mills( of New Brunswick, Canada. They are Canada’s oldest woolen mill, and they have been producing yarn the same way, in the same place for 150 years.
Originally founded in 1857 by George Lister, who held one of the original government land grants in the Harvey area of New Brunswick(near the magnificent Bay of Fundy, famous for the highest tides in North America,) the mill changed hands several times over the years, but was purchased in 1916 by Matthew Briggs and Howard Little. Today, the mill is run by John Thompson and John Little, who are descendants of Ward Little, who worked at the mill for 60 years, and original partner Roy Little, respectively(the two Little families were not related.
The mill was still run partially by water until 1994. Until the 1940’s the mill produced only natural colored wool in gray, brown and white. The first dyed wool’s introduced were Scarlet, Paddy Green and Royal Blue. Today we use these same colors in our custom designed Buddie Sweaters for pure, old fashioned quality.
Source: Skein drying, blending and picking, and carding wool.

The History of Icelandic Wool

At Buddie Sweaters, one of our favorite wools is Icelandic Wool. We love it for its strength, durability, and extreme warmth, as well as for its beautiful natural shades of white, brown and black. Knitting is an ancient tradition in Iceland, and classic sweater patterns from this tiny island country have spread throughout the world. Any place someone needs to stay warm, you’ll probably see an Icelandic sweater!

Icelandic wool has an amazing history, starting when the Vikings came to Iceland in the year 874 BCE, bringing with them hardy sheep and horses from their native Scandinavia. Historians say that without these sheep, the Vikings would not have been able to survive long enough to colonize Iceland: the sheep provided not only meat but the wool which would keep people warm through the long, harsh Icelandic winter. The sheep which would come to be called “Icelandic sheep” also have a high breeding rate, enabling them to support the growing human population in Iceland. So important were sheep to the Viking conquests that descriptions of wool shearing, carding and spinning are included in Viking sagas along with tales exploration and battle!Unlike other breeds of sheep around the world, the Icelandic sheep breed has remained pure due to Iceland’s complete isolation. The same hardy characteristics which allowed these sheep to survive sailing with the Vikings 1100 years ago causes these same animals to thrive today. What makesthe wool unique isdistinct inner and outerfibers which render thewool tough andwater resistanton the outside,but soft andinsulating on the inside. Forthis reason, Icelandic Woolis our number one choice forsweaters, ponchos, andcold weather accessories.

Amazing Wool: Facts About Our Favorite Fiber

Buddie Sweaters is all about wool. You probably already know that wool is warm, all- natural, ans incredibly durable and long -lasting. But did you also know that wool is naturally flame resistant, hypoallergenic, is part of a globally sustainable textile industry.

Because of the natural flame resistance of wool and its ability to protect against water, heat and cold; firefighter uniforms were traditionally made of thick wool! When burned, wool will usually smolder and extinguish itself, and will not melt, adhere to skin, or give off toxic fumes in a fire.

Wool is naturally resistant to dust mites, which are the primary cause of allergies. It is also naturally UV resistant, offering more protection from the sun than cotton or other plant-based fabrics. Wool is also whats called a hygroscopic fiber, which means it absorbs and releases or absorbs humidity in the air, making it a natural insulator.

Because wool is a natural fiber, grown in the skin of sheep, it is 100% biodegradable. Natural wool fibers can be used in compost, where it will return nutrients to the earth. Healthy sheep will grow a new pelt every year, making wool 100% sustainable.

Wool also one of the most versatile textiles in existence, and can be used for everything from the finest merino bed sheets to heavy coats designed to keep you warm in the coldest temperatures. No matter what your textile needs, chances are, you can find a solution with wool.

Coming up next- A history of woolen clothing, part 1
Types of wool
Wool fashion trends