The Wonderful World of Wool
by Friend of WCW Katie D.
So clearly, you all know that those of us here at Wild Coconut Wear LOVE wool and many of you have already caught on to how adorable, fabulous, amazing, fantastic, extraordinary, outstanding, superb (we could go on and on…) it is. So who is this post for?
- Those of you who are new to cloth diapering and want to jump into an eco-friendly, natural way to cloth diaper your baby that has so many positive benefits
- Those of you who have been cloth diapering for a while but are considering making the switch to wool full-time and need some convincing on just how easy it is and how much you’ll love it
- All of our favorite customers who just want a reminder about why they love their woolies so much (and maybe want to learn a few new, interesting facts!)
Ok, so first of all, let’s get a few things out of the way.
This is not the scratchy, prickly wool like that itchy turtleneck that is stored in the back of your closet.
Wild Coconut Wear products are made from a type of wool known as wool interlock which is selected specifically for it's softness and durability. It is a 97/3 merino wool/spandex blend- interlock meaning it is 97% organic wool, 3% spandex blended into a single yarn which is knit on a machine into fabric. Interlock means it is a stretchy knit that looks the same on both sides. The spandex gives the fabric stretch and memory to return to its original state.
The wool used is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified which means it has been tested for harmful substances and produced under environmentally friendly conditions. You can read more about Oeko-Tex here.
This wool is also pre-felted so it’s very difficult to felt…like you really have to work hard at it (we’re talking extreme temperature changes or putting it in the dryer kinda heat). Many of our customers even machine wash their wool on a delicate/wool cycle and air dry- it is much more durable than knits! Hence why it is so easy to take care of…
Wait…what is felting? It's when those stretchy fibers in your woolies start permanently clumping together and shrinking, losing their stretch and size. This is mostly an issue for knits, not interlock. Our interlock is felted (shrunk) first so it remains stretchy and due to the pre-felting, it is much more durable.
Wool is Not Hot!
This magic fiber is naturally temperature regulating and will keep your baby warm in cold weather, and cool in hot weather. It is after all, meant to keep sheep just the right temperature- I’m sure if you asked one, he would definitely convince you that cloth diapering your baby with wool is the right choice ;). The natural fibers allow air to continuously circulate instead of trapping heat like plastic and PUL type alternatives.
Washing and lanolizing my wool will take too much time. LIES, LIES, LIES! More on this later…
Ok, now let’s chat some more about why wool will have you swooning…
First things first, clearly, if you’re diapering your child, leak protection is a must. Lucky for you, that is what wool is known for! Rest assured, wool will keep baby’s clothing, bedding and your lap dry. It initially resists moisture forcing the diaper underneath to soak up as much as possible. Of course your first line of protection IS that absorbent diaper underneath your cover. (Of which there are many options: Prefolds, flats, fitteds, even pockets or all-in-one’s as an extra line of protection. Any diapering system of your choosing will work under your WCW covers!) Once the diaper has reached its soaking point, the wool will now begin to soak moisture up itself. The porous outer layers of the fibers quickly absorb (and then evaporate) moisture. It will absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet to the touch. Say whaaat?! 30%?!? Yep….told ya…magic…
Your Baby’s Skin Will Thank You…
Remember how we talked about the wonderful air circulation that happens with wool? Let’s chat some more about it…That air that is constantly circulating in and out allows baby’s skin to breathe, stay dry and rash/redness free. So many parents turn to cloth diapering to help solve sensitive skin and rash issues. Wool is the answer! It will keep your baby’s skin happy and free of persistent diaper rash. Wool can also be beneficial for those battling with eczema. Anybody that deals with eczema knows you just can’t get enough moisture. Using a good quality, unscented lanolin spray on the inside of your woolies can help to replenish moisture. Lanolin has great healing abilities that help keeps skin soft and moisturized. Some people will try to tell you people with eczema should not wear wool at all because they are likely allergic. Truth is, most people allergic to wool are either sensitive to the type of wool (scratchier varieties) or the chemicals used in processing wool. Most wool used for diapering is the ultra fine variety and minimally processed without those chemicals. Also keep in mind TOO much lanolin will clog up those wonderful air pockets and that will do you no good at all. With a little experimentation, you will be able to find the perfect balance.
If you are dealing with eczema, you might also be dealing with a dust mite allergy. Dust mites cannot tolerate the lanolin in wool. So no need to worry about that just because you aren’t constantly washing your wool that you’ll have a breeding ground for dust mites. Allergy or not, that is a comforting thought ;).
Wool is Odor/Bacteria/Fungal Resistent
Believe it or not, you don’t need to wash your wool every time that it’s worn. Stink is caused by bacteria. You know how we keep bringing up that circulation of air thing…here we go again…since moisture vapor is constantly absorbed and evaporated, it’s not just sitting there waiting for bacteria to grow. In addition to this, lanolin in the wool (either natural or added) actually neutralizes ammonia. In simple terms, this means that the lanolin actually neutralizes pee into salt and water- let me say it again- MAGIC! Simply allow a damp cover to air dry between uses and it will remain stink free! A general rule of thumb that we pass along is that once your wool starts to smell like pee when it’s dry, the lanolin has worn thin and it’s time to wash and re-lanolize.
You Can Pass it Down To the Next Generation…Really!
Wool in general is a tough fiber. Microscopically, each wool fiber is a corkscrew. The spiral shape gives it a memory to bounce back into its original form. It will stand up over time and not break down as quickly as other fibers, for instance cotton. A wool fiber can bend back on itself approximately 20,000 times without breaking vs. about 3,200 for cotton. So your wool clothing items have the potential of being passed down to the next generation if properly stored!
On the opposite end of the subject, wool WILL biodegrade. If your beloved woolies meet an untimely end and somehow make their way to a landfill, they will over time break down. Exposed to the elements like that, it will happen much more quickly than a synthetic fiber.
Just because it’s tough doesn’t mean your diapering woolies won’t be comfy. Wools used in diapering are made from finer, shorter wool fibers which means they are going to have next to skin softness. Assuming you’ve got that covered, wool is generally stretchy and moves well with your baby as she stretches and bends, wiggles, crawls, jumps and runs. An active little one needs active clothing, of course! All without an annoying plastic, crinkly sound. Soft, breathable and stretchy...sounds comfy to me!
It can be budget friendly and double as clothes
Wool can also be an economical choice. It can be as budget friendly (or not) as you want it to be. From inexpensive preloved wool to hand knit with premium yarns right up to artistic pieces. But at the most basic level, only a few pieces are needed, even an exclusively wool wardrobe. And if you are using wool bottoms, they ARE the clothing and cover all in one, no additional clothing is needed. You can get by with a rather small wardrobe saving both space, money and laundry. Of course it’s fun to have a larger variety, but not necessary ;).
On that note…my most favorite woolie pro…
IT IS ADORABLE!
Seriously! Look at these kiddos in their woolies! Wool is darn cute and gives you that warm, fuzzy, “homey” feeling. Wool has been used for generations as diaper covers. There’s just something that feels good about carrying that tradition on in our modern, “newer is better”, world. They might even become a family heirloom! There’s something special about having something made with love that your baby can wear, especially when it will most likely attract a lot of compliments!
On a personal note…
I first discovered Wild Coconut Wear when my daughter was a few months old. I had decided to commit to cloth diapering but was getting frustrated with persistent diaper rash and skin irritation. We live in HOT and muggy Florida and I was discovering that the PUL covers we were using were trapping warmth inside and creating a breeding ground for bacteria. So… I started researching and decided to give wool a try. I was lucky enough to stumble onto Wild Coconut Wear and instantly fell in love with wool, for so, so many reasons; the adorable and creative products that Angela creates (we get so many compliments on our woolies), the ease of care, the fact that each product is made by hand, and of course that it solved our persistent rash problem. I can honestly say that in the almost year and a half that we made the switch to full time wool, we have had ONE rash that cleared up after a couple days. It makes me happy knowing that my daughter’s skin is healthy and happy! Woolies aside, we are so thankful to have found such a wonderful community in the Wild Coconut Wear chat group. While I have never met any of the Moms that I have gotten to know online in person, they have cheered me up during difficult days and been a resource for many issues beyond wool questions. Wild Coconut Wear is a big part of our lives and we couldn’t be happier about it!
We asked some of our chat members, lovingly called, “Coconuts,” what they love about wool. Here’s what a few of them had to say!
- “I was wanting to give wool a try, and I found a cute little gnomies soaker on another BST page. Since one of my daughter's name is Naomi I just had to buy the "Hangin' with my Gnomies" soaker for her little sister to wear. I love how wool is so magical. It contains messes, stays cool, functions as clothes, and is low maintenance. I especially love the how easy it is to take care of interlock and how it doesn't get picked like knit does. Wild Coconut Wear is my favorite brand because it is cute, has a great resell value, and is high quality.”
- “I do love that it's a natural material; it makes me feel good to dress my daughter in something that I know isn't toxic. I love WCW for the easy care - interlock beats loose knit, hands down. The adorable patterns are a huge plus - can you say bubble shorties? The dye lots, especially LWI, are ah-mazing. The customer service is spectacular. And the community is wonderful!!”
- “I love the breath-ability. My kids always seem to need "air time" when using PUL. This solves that. I love that interlock is easy to care for! I need something easy these days! I love all the designs and colors of WCW. Oh my. I wish I had a pair of everything in every color every size! This group of ladies are wonderful and supportive.”
- “I love that it's effective and easy care, since ain't nobody got time for fussy laundry routines, and I also love the WCW community.”
- “I started with wool wrap covers and cotton prefolds with my first 7 years ago because I knew I wanted natural fabrics and the breathability of wool. I however did not know about snappis and was afraid of pins so I just basically wrapped the diaper around the baby and secured with the wool cover. I never understood how people used soakers with prefolds, lol. At one point we tried out PUL pockets once my first got too squirmy for prefolds. I then discovered all my babies were extremely heat sensitive (especially in AZ) to synthetic diapers so we switched back to wool full-time. I didn't discover WCW until my 3rd baby thanks to a wonderful mama in my birth community. I love how durable and easy WCW is to wash and use. I also love how any messes are contained in the wool. The best part is how adorable it is and how the covers double as bottoms. I no longer have to put my baby in pants 2 sizes too big to fit over the bulky prefold and wool wrap covers.”