How is wool different to down, feather or polyester?
Feather, down and polyester are all fabulous insulators, they make the body hot and then they hold onto that heat, which is fine when you first get into bed, but during the night our body temperature needs to drop slightly in order to achieve deep sleep. Insulators bring our body temperature up until we're at the point where we wake up, throw the covers off and try to cool down, then we go to sleep again and repeat the process. But this time it maybe our partner is too hot in the bed and so the great duvet war starts with us pulling and pushing off the duvet. This is not natural sleep and it prevents essential deep sleep.
How does wool regulate your body temperature?
Wool isn't just an insulator like polyester and feather. Wool is actually a regulator, it regulates your body temperature the same way as it does on the sheep. When it's hot the wool passes the heat mainly in the form of moisture from the sheep's body out and when its cold its keeps the heat in. Easy really and it will do the same for humans. All wool products can do this but the more you process the wool, i.e. spin and weave it, then the less the wool can regulate heat. So we keep the wool in the same state as it is on the sheep. But the amazing thing about wool is that it will actually regulate the temperatures of two different people in the same bed.
But how else does wool compare with down and feather duvets?
Down is light and airy and has excellent thermal qualities but it just gets warmer and warmer; it doesn't have the natural heat regulating properties that wool has.
Down and feather also attract dust and dirt (remember feather dusters) and therefore It actually attracts dust mites where as wool is naturally clean and is dust mite resistant.
Real down is the very finest, smallest feathers next to a birds' skin. Most so called 'down' duvets are, in fact, made up of very small amounts of down supplemented with feathers, often just chicken feathers. Feathers don't give an even coverage because they tend to gather in clumps and migrate to the bottom of the duvet, leaving cold spots and you are forever having to shake it to spread them out again. Also many people are allergic to feathers . Feather/down and polyester make you sweat. The sweat is retained in the duvet and mould spores thrive on it. Wool on the other hand is naturally hypoallergenic and the most breathable fibre on the planet and it doesn't attract dirt.
Practically all feather and down come from factory farmed birds. How do you think White Hungarian Snow geese can make so many duvets? Only by factory farming and the methods used to get the feathers are sometimes far from humane. Sheep shed their wool naturally its just we help them by shearing.
Is it tog rated?
Not exactly, we just give an approximate tog rating. Tog rating was introduced to measure the insulating properties of synthetics it is not used for wool because wool does far more than a polyester duvet or a feather duvet. Wool reacts to heat and moisture from the body and will breath ( transfer) both moisture and heat from the body or retain that heat thereby regulating body temperature rather than merely acting as an insulator. Its also warmer than a polyester of equivalent tog rating. and also cooler.
How are Baavets rated for warmth?
We have chosen to adopt the outdoor sleeping bag equivalent of seasonal ratings. But remember wool has a different thermal heat transferable quality than other duvets therefore is generally warmer on the lighter weights and you should also bear in mind what kind of house you live in; what kind of heating you normally have in your bedroom; and whether you are hot blooded or feel the cold more. The longer we trial wool as a filling the more amazed we have become and we have had to down grade the weight of grams needed to retain body warmth. In the UK we have become too used to expecting a duvet to be really heavy to be warm. This is not the case with wool if its finely carded.
The light weight is for people who don't want a duvet that's too warm or heavy at approx 300/350grms per sq metre. this can be used as a summer /autumn/spring. This can also double up as a 'throw' for very cold winter nights. (it might be too warm for very hot summer nights but then who has a duvet on then!)
Then we have the medium weight at approx 400/450 grams per sq metre which is the most versatile and popular model which is usable for most of the year except for warmer summers and extreme cold winter nights of around freezing . But then you can always use a throw over for those times.
We have a winter weight of 500/550 grams per sq metre for those who really feel the cold. Or live in very cold areas and houses.
Why are the wool weights variable in each season category?
When wool is in a light carded state it is very difficult to keep it consistent, unlike polyester which is heat bonded and very consistent in weight.
-All wool duvet companies experience the same problems of producing a completely consistent weight of wool. Some duvets we have seen are as much as 100 grams per squ metre different to the weight shown on the label.
But we are honest enough to tell you that! We actually check the weight of each Baavet and work within a 50 gram tolerance.
Why are woollen duvets so expensive when wool is supposed to be cheap?
For the same reason that feather and down are expensive. Its not the filling, it's the fibre proof outer which is so expensive. It has around fine 250 cotton threads per sq inch and to become fibre proof the cotton has to go through a separate heat treatment process which actually shrinks the cotton.
With normal cotton the wool or feathers would migrate through the fabric.
Is there some way I can tell if the cotton is fibre proof or cambric?
There is a simple test you can do. Try blowing through the cotton if you can its not fibre proof. If its difficult its fibre proof if its very difficult its cambric. If its not fibre proof then the filling is not pure wool but probably a polymered wool to bond it together (glue it together) so it can't migrate through the cotton. A polymered wool can't breath or regulate body temperature properly.
So can you use any old wool in a duvet?
To be honest, yes you can, even polymered wool or chlorinated wool but there are certain wools which are much better than others.
There are 2 reasons why we have different wool and different sheep breeds.
First we have different breeds of sheep which have, over hundreds of years, been bred specifically for different parts of the world and for different climates. So the very small,hardy Hebridean Sheep with its thick long coat thrives on seaweed on the extreme northern outer reaches of the UK. Then we have the Downs sheep of lowland Britain with a short tight fleece and our own Welsh Mountain and Herdwicks of the Lake District and Cumbrian fells with their heavy thick coats to withstand harsh cold winters, and many more. Its quite an interesting subject if you care to check it out
The second reason we have different sheep breeds is because each breed has a very different wool with completely different qualities for different uses. The wool has different micron sizes,and staple lengths.
So the Wensleydales and Blue Leicester's produce a lustre wool, soft and silky, with along staple length and fine micron size, which is great for spinning and weaving into clothing, while the tough Welsh Mountain is great for hard wearing carpets.
Its also possible to cross breeds of sheep to get differing qualities of wool.
Isn't Merino wool the best wool?
Some companies claim to have all or some Merino wool in their duvets this is just a marketing ploy aimed at creating a selling image recognisable by the general public.
Most Merino wool is beautiful wool and excellent for fine clothing but it isn't really the best wool for duvets, it's too long and lies flat so it won't have loft to trap air. You need a shorter springy staple to have the same thermal qualities as our lofty springy wool. The market is also being flooded now with cheaper Merino wool duvets from Eastern Europe, these Merino sheep haven't been bred for their fleece but for their meat so the wool tends to be much coarser and much, much cheaper, so don't be conned, not everything labelled Merino is high quality.
So what wool is used in a Baavet?
Well not any Merino for sure, and not the pure Welsh Mountain, unfortunately, as we are surrounded by thousands of Welsh mountain sheep here in Snowdonia. We spent months researching and testing wools in association with the Wool Authority Testing Station (where wool for the whole Northern Hemisphere is tested ,hence our knowledge of competitors duvets) which is only 20 miles from where we live. We found there are excellent British breeds and specifically Welsh Breeds, especially pedigree sheep breeds and cross breeds, which have good micron wool size and staple lengths which we can then blend into just the right optimum British wool, with excellent thermal properties yet with the lightness and loft (bounce) that we want in our Baavets. We need good quality wool that has no or little kemp, (that's spiky sheep hair in poor quality wool) We also use wool from specific traceable farms, again we are the only company able to do this.
Where else are woollen duvets made?
While we were all in bed with Poly Ester (who ever she is) countries like New Zealand have been developing wool products for decades – New Zealand has a lot of sheep and not much oil! Also Italy, Hungary, Slovenia and of course China.
We are one of only two companies in the UK who truly make a 100% British wool duvet, and ours is the only British manufactured one made on a proper quilting machine.
Does one weight of wool suit all ?
No duvet can be an all year round wool duvet to all people, and no one weight of wool can be a 'one weight fits all', so we offer several weight options and we are pleased to talk to anyone who is unsure which to buy.
Is a Baavet Tumble dryable?
Some wool duvets are sold as tumble dryable. No pure wool duvet can be subjected to tumble drier heat and tumbling action because the wool will shrink and felt unless the wool has been treated in some way. The normal way to treat wool so that it is tumble dryable is to subject the wool to a chlorinating, scorching, process that kills the wool smell and stops the wool felting. To do this the process strips the wool strands of its cuticles by soaking the wool in acid, once the wool is stripped it then goes into an alkaline solution to neutralise the acid. It's these cuticles that will cause felting but its these cuticles that trap air which is the key to heat transfer and thermal qualities. The cuticles also act as a barrier to the dust mite, the microscopic cuticles make the wool rough and spiky and they don't like it! Add to that Lanolin and you have a dust mite free product.
We don't treat the wool in any way other than to wash it commercially to remove the greasy lanolin. This means that sometimes there maybe a slight wool smell (it's the lanolin that smells by the way) but in time and with airing that will always go. Remember it's also the lanolin that dust mites hate so a little left in the wool helps.
Is my Baavet machine washable?
Our care instructions tell you to handwash or dryclean your Baavet however if you have a very, very, gentle cycle on your machine it is possible to machine wash it. Untreated wool will shrink and felt if subjected to anything more than the gentlest wash, if you're not sure then a gentle handwash will do, then spin and line dry, but DO NOT TUMBLE DRY. You will be amazed how quickly your Baavet will dry without the need for tumble drying.
If you're not sure about the aggressiveness of your machine wash then you can always try the following wash method;
Place your duvet in your machine, add a wool friendly detergent to the detergent draw, then via the detergent drawer fill the machine with tepid water. Once the duvet is covered with water leave to soak for half an hour. Spin the duvet on a low rpm cycle then refill with water and leave to soak again for half an hour. Now spin on a high rpm cycle remove from the machine and hang to dry away from direct heat.
Wool is an extremely clean organic fabric, you only have to dig into the fleece on a sheep's back and see how clean it is. It's a much cleaner filling than polyester or down, both of which attract dust. So we suggest you air your Baavet on a sunny day and let nature do the cleaning for you.
What about the combination woollen duvet offered by some companies?
We have decided, after extensive customer consultation and research, that in most cases people who have bought one haven't really used it as a combination and those that have find them difficult to handle especially when putting them into a duvet cover, especially if it only has ties. Its much easier to use a throw or just add a top sheet. Simple and less expensive. Or buy 2 different weight duvets for different times of the year, but usually you can have one Baavet that suits for most of the year unless you live on an exposed Welsh hillside like we do so we use a winter one and a summer one.
Is a wool duvet itchy?
No, the wool comes as a fine soft fibre that is covered in a high quality closely woven cotton cambric fabric.
Will the wool move around and felt or clump?
Not if it's and quilted properly and carded into lofty layers which when quilted won't move unlike feather which clumps or wool duvets that aren't quilted. It won't felt with movement either.
Are any animals harmed in producing wool duvets?
Absolutely not. In fact some sheep are naturally self shearing. The rest just love a haircut for the summer. There is no factory farming with Sheep in the UK . This is not the case with down and feather duvets. Most down and feather comes from intensive factory farming and a bird can't survive being plucked! In China they even pluck them alive.
If wool is so good why haven't we made wool filled duvets before?
Before World War II, and in the austere years following, we used to be a nation of beds with woolly blankets. Everyone used wool for bedding. Then, in the swinging sixties, amongst all the other social revolutions going on, we went cosmopolitan and were introduced to the continental quilt (which at first was down or feather). Then the sixties brought us the petrochemical revolution and we moved to cheap man-made polyester. Continental quilts were re-invented as duvets with polyester fillings at a price everyone could afford. Whereas on the continent wool has been used for duvets forever.
So why make them now?
First of all wool isn't as expensive anymore, unless you buy an expensive wool carpet or a wool suit, and that's because it's the cost of processing that pushes the price up. And secondly, we're realizing that polyester isn't such a great material for bedding for so many reasons. Meanwhile feather and down while being very good insulators can't regulate your body temperature which makes for a restless sleep whether you are aware of this or not. Also many people are allergic to them. Whereas wool is totally sustainable and doesn't require factory farming as with chickens, ducks and geese.
Is the Baavet really British?
Yes, we can guarantee that the wool in a Baavet is from British farms and the entire process from carding to packaging is done in Britain. In fact in most cases our wool comes from specific Welsh farms. Only the cotton comes from abroad, Britain just doesn't have the right weather for growing cotton, unfortunately. We now even make our own cotton bags rather than from abroad and we have all the embroidery and printing done here.
Can you return your Baavet if your aren't happy?
Some companies have a fairly strict 7 or 14 day returns policy making it very difficult for you, the customer, to find out if your duvet is the right one for you. We have a simple returns policy. Try it for 30 days and if you don't like it you can send it back!!
But really your Baavet wool duvet should last you a life time.