The Process of Wool from Sheep to Sustainable Living
Cassie, our herding Border Collie, rounds up some Ewes
We are proud to be in the business of supporting American family sheep ranchers.
Our main goal is to raise awareness about the Wonders of Wool while remaining true to our environmental values. In this day and age it is often easier to go overseas for cheap labor, and use harsh chemicals for cleaning. We choose to adhere to a set of morals that promote sustainable ecosystems, thriving communities, and a clean future for generations to come.
While all Sonoma Wool Company products remain all-natural and untouched by chemicals, there are many stages our wool must go through in order to be clean and prepared for household use.
It all starts on the Ranch.
Once each year, usually in the Spring, the wool on the each ewe (female sheep) is sheared by professional sheep shearers.
Shearing does not harm the sheep, it is similar to getting a hair cut!
It will all grow back by the following year. Once sheared, the fleece (wool from one sheep) is placed on a skirting table, where quality imperfections in the wool are removed by hand.
Bales of Wool ready to be shipped and scoured
The wool is then baled and shipped to a scouring mill, where it is washed with biodegradable soap. At this stage, much of the lanolin is removed and collected for further processing for cosmetics or other uses. Lanolin is the oil that secretes from the follicles on sheep's skin - and it is incredibly beneficial for our (human) skin!
You'll find lanolin as a main ingredient in baby rash ointment and skin protectant brands. We look forward to being able to create USA-made lanolin-infused skin care products, but for the time being, we will continue to focus on educating consumers on the Wonders of Wool and the value of sheep!
After the wool is washed, and lanolin removed with biodegradable soap, the wool is re-baled and shipped to a carding mill where it is combed and placed in large rolls of batting.
The rolls of batting are then shipped either to a felting mill or to our sewing rooms, where it is used to create the Sonoma Wool Company products, like our hand-made Wool Dryer Balls, for you and your home!
Sonoma Wool Company wool batting can be used for all sorts of crafting projects.
You'll find our 100% pure wool batting, sourced from United States family ranchers, encased in 100% cotton throughout our Wool Bedding Line.
Pure Wool Batting
We make sure that our wool is never carbonized, a chemical process that removes all bits of vegetation, but also chemically destroys the integrity of each wool fiber. In our pure batting, there is a chance you might find pieces of grass or straw. We can assure you that they are clean, and most likely very sparse! We promise to never use harsh chemicals in our products, and do all we can to ensure the wool is able to do its thing.
A mistake people often make is covering their wool in a synthetic material, whether that be with bedding, clothing, or even over Wool Ironing Board Pads. In order for wool to be able to properly breathe and offer the wonderful attributes we so love about it, we suggest it be combined with a natural fiber. Synthetic materials, like polyester, will constrict the airflow between fibers - preventing the breathability, and temperature controlling qualities of pure wool.
In order to be sure that wool is allowed to do its thing the best it can, we ensure that our Wool Bedding is encased with nothing but natural materials (100% cotton!), and never chemically treated or super-washed. Super-washing is a chemical process that strips the wool fibers of their integrity once again. The purpose being so that the wool can be washed in a washing machine. This process completely takes away from the natural design of wool - it prevent the fibers' breathability - it prevents the Wonders of Wool! Beware of wool that can be thrown in a washing machine, it's probably lacking wonder!
We can never recommend enough the importance of choosing natural fibers over synthetic, especially for bedding. Sleeping in and on synthetic covers, sheets, and pillowcases are the easiest way to sweat the bed. This does go for clothing too. When selecting clothing to go under a winter coat for example, choosing a natural material, like cotton or linen, will do better to allow air to circulate under the layers, so that you don't begin to sweat, even when it is cold out! This was an issue for me when I first moved to New England. Now that I know, I am constantly checking the tags when shopping for clothes, and won't buy anything that won't breathe properly.
Breathability is what we consider to be the most fabulous Wonder of Wool. It gives way for many of the other wonders to exist! If not for wools natural breathability, wool wouldn't be dust mite, mold, or mildew resistant - or temperature controlling! It is the quality many brands are trying to replicate in a lab with synthetic materials. But, why go through all that trouble, when wool is naturally sustainable, renewable, biodegradable, and incredibly wonderful!
We often get asked how we make our dryer balls, and why they are priced so differently from other Wool Balls you might see at a Home Goods store.
We value our team members and take pride in being able to provide livable salaries. Most Wool Dryer Balls are made by hand, ours included. Sometimes these lower priced Dryer Balls you'll see in stores are created in inhumane working conditions (often over-seas).
We are working hard to make sure that we always treat our team members with highest regard! At the moment, our Wool Dryer Balls are among the few products that we create that are not available for wholesale, due to their hand-made nature.
When we say hand-made, we really mean hand-made! Each dryer ball is created by balling up batting and lathering it with biodegradable soap by hand at our ranch in Valley Ford, California. This creates the wet-felting process that will give it its shape and durability.
Why should you use Wool Dryer Balls in your dryer?
Wool Dryer Balls will create space in between your items as they spin round in the dryer, which allows for better air circulation, decreasing the amount of dry-time needed! Saving energy and supporting a sustainable fiber - what could be better!?
Here's a fun tip: Wool Dryer Balls also act as dryer sheets, softening clothes as they are dried. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil on to each dryer ball before tossing them in and your items will come out smelling fresh and clean! No need to go through countless, chemically laden dryer sheets again!
The Wonders of Wool are endless, which is why we are working tirelessly to bring consumers more unique home goods made of this sustainable fiber.
- Kelsie Greene, Media Manager, Sonoma Wool Company
To contact Kelsie about this, or any other woolly thought you may have, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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