If you don’t… where have you been?
I talk about wool
I shop for wool
I tweet about wool
I blog about wool
I craft with wool
I play with wool
I browse through wool
I sell things made with wool
I wear wool
Shoot, I even dream about wool
So now you know, if you didn’t before, how obsessed I am with wool!
This page will cover:
Wool is magic . . . at least that is how I like to describe it. I know that some say that the lanolin is what makes the wool so good, but I will argue this point. Wool fiber is what is so great for cloth diapering. It is the wool fiber, not the lanolin that will change the urine to salt water. This process is called salinization. When the woolie is wet it will smell pretty bad. Just hang it out to dry though, and let it do it’s magic! Then when the wool cover dries it will dry clean with a bit of a salt reside. It will also “magically” smell clean again. After this process has occurred a bunch of times the build-up of salt gets to be too much and then the process doesn’t work anymore. When this happens your woolie will start to smell even when it is dry. This is when it is time to wash your woolie and re-lanolize. Depending on how many woolies you have and how much use they get, you usually only have to wash them every three or four weeks.
Also it is the wool fibers and not the lanolin that absorb AND distribute the moisture. This is why you tend to not have leaks with a wool cover. The wool will distribute the moisture through out the entire cover and not concentrate on, or over work, one specific place. A wool cover is only as good as the diaper underneath it though! You can’t put a wool cover over a low-absorbency diaper and expect to get perfection. You need a good absorbent cloth diaper under a woolie. The Nifty Nappy fitted paired with the Woolie Wrap is a good example of a great fitted woolie combo that works amazingly.
Lanolin has it’s place in wool covers though, don’t get me wrong. I feel lanolin is important for a good wool cover because it does add to the waterproof barrier. It is great as a rash cream too without doing damage to your cloth diapers since it is natural and will wash right out with soap and water. I also love that lanolin is so good for the baby’s skin. It will help with dry skin, and even eczema.
Wool is a breathable fiber. This is why when you use a nice breathable fitted with a wool cover you have less rashes. All that moisture is being allowed to escape through evaporation and is not being held right there next to the baby’s skin. The breathability of wool is also what makes it a great cover for either cold climates or hot climates. We all know that wool is touted as a great fiber to use for clothing and such in cold climates and during the winter, but it is also great for warmer climates too. Because wool is breathable it will allow the moisture to escape while helping regulate body temperature through evaporative cooling. Wool fiber helps to keep your body at the optimal temperature zone for comfort and rest. Wool buffers the extreme cold or hot air on the outside, keeping your body in that comfort zone. So whether you live in Alaska or Arizona, wool is a great solution for you and your baby.
Wool Covers:There are three different materials a woolie can be made from:
- Crocheted or Knitted Woolies- A crocheted or knitted woolie usually has ribbing for the waist and legs, and comes with a draw string. The drawstring is nice because it is adjustable to the size of your baby. These are made from wool yarns. There are many different types of wool yarn, but in the end the ones I would NOT suggest are Cashmere, Angora, and Superwash. I know that a lot of people like the superwash because it is machine washable, but to get a little convenience you give up some of the absorbency of the wool. Cashmere doesn’t hold it’s shape and isn’t as absorbent as other wools. Angora is super soft, but is kinda hard to keep clean on a kiddo because of all the fuzz.
- Upcycled Sweater Woolies- We choose to use upcycled wool sweaters in our woolies. I purchase the sweaters from a thrift store, in fact from any thrift store I get close to. I check the sweater for wool content. I will not use anything less than 80% wool. In fact I think I only have bought one or two that weren’t 100% wool. I take up my post at the sweater rack and start feeling sweaters. I pull it up on my arms, and rub it on my face. I even smell it. (I do get lots of odd looks!) I am very particular about the itchy factor. If I don’t want to wear it I won’t put it on my baby or yours! There are some very soft wools out there. One of my favorite parts is finding the cute patterns and having an adorable woolie in the end.
- Interlock Woolies- Interlock wool is a wool fabric you can buy by they yard. It is stretchy so it makes a good cloth diaper cover. They are similar to the Upcycled Woolies. We do not, as of yet, use wool interlock exclusively for your woolies. We can’t justify the price, when we can use thrift sweaters that are a lot cheaper and then you get the cute prints too. We do use the wool interlock as the inner layer of the Woolie Wrap, our wrap style wool cover. It is very absorbent and used as the inner layer, you get the cuteness factor of the upcycled sweaters with the dependability of the wool interlock.
Then there are several types of wool covers:
- Soakers-Soakers are designed to be a pull up style cover. These are usually worn over a pre-fold or a fitted diaper. They can be used to make sure Pajamas don’t get wet when you are using a pocket diaper at night also. Soakers are oft times worn under clothing. The wool absorbs the wetness and keeps it off the clothes. If the wool gets too saturated it will leak over time, in what is called “compression” leaking. BUT from personal experience this would have to be a loooong time. There are basically two styles, the front leg style (refer to picture), and the bloomer style cover. Soakers can have 3 different waists; drawstring, elastic, and ribbed. When I make my upcycled soakers I try to use the waist of the sweater so that there is some stretch thus eliminating the need for elastic. Our soakers are custom made for your little one so you can get the perfect fit. They will generally fit over a 3-6 month span when they are smaller and longer when they are a little bigger.
- Longies-Longies are just soakers extended to the ankles. Basically these are wool pants that double as a diaper cover. Wool longies are nice because you get pants and a diaper cover in one. Wool longies are actually good for either warm or cold weather climates. The wool is breathable and allows for evaporative cooling. There are two styles of upcycled longies; the straight down leg and the front leg. I like to make the straight legged ones because these use up the sleeves from the sweaters I cut my wraps out of. There are also several styles of knitted or crocheted ones too. I especially liked to use these for winter nights to keep my baby’s legs warm. These can be bought in sizes such as small, medium and large. Nifty Nappy likes to offer custom wool covers. With your babies measurements we can make woolies that will be a perfect fit for your little one. Nifty Nappy longies are unique and you will never see anyone that has a pair of longies that are just like yours.
- Wraps-Wraps are made to snap or velcro over the cloth diaper. These are for people that don’t want to fight with pulling up a soaker or longie. They can be one layer or a double layer like mine. We make our wrap style cover a fitted cover with elastic in the legs and back to help hold the cover over the diaper. Wool wraps can come in one size like ours or they can come in varying sizes. We choose to make front snapping Woolie Wraps. They will fold down just like our diapers to fit a smaller baby. *see our tutorial on How to cloth diaper a Newborn. This way they will fit all the way through potty training. You can even use them over training pants at night. There are also side snapping wrap covers. These will not be one size though and you will need to buy different sizes to make it through to potty training.
To add a little fun . . .
- Shorties-These are fun for summer. They are all the conviences of wool, but the fun of summer! Just imagine cute longies only cut off as shorts shorts.
- Skirtie-A little skirt made out of wool to be worn over a wool cover. A skirtie can be made with a little shortie under it, but you can do a soaker or leggings too. They can come attached to the wool cover or they can be separate so you can mix and match. *note- when I lanolize these, I lay the bottoms, not the skirt in the bowl of water. The skirt doesn’t need the lanolin, and if you do lanolize it will attract dirt to it.
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Washing and Lanolizing Wool Covers:
You can use any type of pure lanolin. You can buy it at the store for nursing mothers, or you can buy it in bulk off the internet.
You always hand-wash your woolies and hang to dry!
1- Wash the woolie in lukewarm water and baby soap or wool wash. Wring the water out. (Or you could try out new Liquid Nifty Soap Nuts)
2- Fill a bowl, not your sink, (the wool fibers might clog your sink) with luke warm water.
3- Boil about 1 cup water in microwave, then add pea size amount of lanolin per woolie and about the same amount of baby soap. (an emulsifier to help dissolve the lanolin) When the lanolin is dissolved the water will be milky.
4- Add dissolved lanolin to your bowl of water and stir in. (you can by pass steps 3 and 4 by using our Lanolizing Potion)
5- put the woolie in the bowl (inside out works best, it puts the lanolin where it is needed) and massage the lanolin in. Leave to soak for between 4 –8 hrs. (overnight works great!) Occasionally come back and massage the lanolin in a bit more.
6- Wring the water out. Now you have to get most of water out for faster drying. There are two ways to do this:
a- You can roll it up in a towel and squeeze the water out. I don’t like this method; I think the towel wicks away too much of the lanolin.
b- You can throw them in your washer on the spin cycle and spin the water out.
7- Now you hang them out to dry, inside at least 12 hrs.; outside 6-8 hrs.
Your woolie should only need to be washed and lanolized about once a month. If they get soiled with food, dirt, or baby poo then they will need to washed and relanolized. If they get wet you replace them with another and hang out to dry. The lanolin in the woolies will help the wool turn the urine into salt water. If the woolie starts to smell like urine after dry then you should wash and re-lanolize.
We have an instructional video tutorial on lanolizing
***If you will be gentle with the snaps by unsnapping them close to the snap and not just pulling from the edge of the cover this will reduce the strain you put on the snap.
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This is what happens when you put a Woolie Wrap in the washer and dryer! It is doll sized now!
This was my baby’s favorite woolie! She loved the purple. Now I guess she can put it on her dolly. The felting process is easy enough. You can just throw it in the washer with hot water and then right into the dryer. BUT if you don’t watch it and check on it often you might get something like this. To have better control you can hand felt. Just get the water as hot as you can stand to put your hands in and then agitate the wool. When it starts to get the size you want it then you stop. Gently squeeze the water out, don’t wring it, this distorts the shape. Place the wool on a towel and roll it up. Then you can mash (don’t twist) the towel. This is an important part here if you want your wool in a certain shape….you need to block the wool. This is simply gently stretching it and putting it into the shape you want. Then lay out or hang the wool to dry somewhere. Wa-la! You are a felting pro now. Go and have fun! Just a side note. I don’t usually felt my wool for covers. I do felt it if it is a really thin sweater and it is going to be a soaker or a pair of longies.
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If you have a loved wool cover that has accidentally made it’s way into the washer and is now felted you can try one thing. Grab some hair conditioner, fill a bowl with some warm water and add the conditioner to the water. Then add your woolie. Now GENTLY stretch the woolie. Really! You want to be gentle so that you don’t tear the fibers. Massage it and stretch it. This is not guaranteed to to fix the problem, but it is your best bet to rescue your beloved woolie. Good luck!