Frequently Asked Questions

 

  Why  sheep?
What kind of sheep?
How come you like wool products?
The wool things look different from one another, Why?
Can you wash them? 
What do you do when they are used up?
What kind of soap and oil do you use?
Why the bling?
Can I wear these?
What have you cleaned with the various Woolies?
Why not just use paper towels, sponges or cotton?
How long will Woolies last?
The Dead Wooly
What are the drawbacks?
 

Why  sheep?

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 US that we had mid-century, sheep are a declining animal in the US .   We think that’s a shame.. With their many virtues, and useful coats, more small flocks would be a good thing.                                                                                         [top ]

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.).                                     
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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 about. 

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.                                                                                                            
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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 tack cleaning.

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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
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Can you wash them?  What do you do when they are used up?

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 colored fabrics. 
But really, if you just rinse them out and hang them they will be fine.                                                                                                         
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What kind 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 water. 

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 rinse.

In the tack room I have cleaned my bits, bridles, saddles, spurs, and the tack room itself.                                                                     
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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 about. 

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 ubiquitous. 

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.                                                                                              
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How long will Woolies last?

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.                                                                                                                                                                                           
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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.                                                                                                                        
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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.                                                          
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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 bacteria.                                          

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! 

                                              

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