What Happens to All That Wool?
Recently, two New Zealand farmers made a surprising discovery: a wandering sheep with over 44 pounds of unshorn wool on it. The two farmers, Peter and Netty Hazel, estimate that the sheep, now named Shaun, had been loose and wandering the countryside by itself for approximately six years, and that when it is shorn the yield could break the Guinness world record for most fleece ever taken from an animal at one time.
Peter estimates that Shaun's wool, which is of surprisingly good quality for a sheep that's been wandering the wild and been unkempt for so long, could make "3 to 4 pullovers." Regardless of what Shaun's impressive fleece is made into (we'd like to think at least some of it will end up as a high quality rug!), once it's been shorn it will become one of two different kinds of yarn: woolen or worsted.
Woolen fabrics are the ones with the softer, fuzzier appearance. They're spun from shorter fibers (usually less than 3 inches). Woolen fiber is bulky, heavy, and uneven, giving it a shaggy appearance. This makes it a great insulator, as well as a good knitting yarn.
Worsted fiber on the other hand is made from longer, thinner threads and is much lighter and smoother looking. It also has a higher tensile strength than woolens, and handles creasing and folding much better. Worsted yarn is used to create stronger, more durable textiles.
Before Shaun's wool becomes one of these two types of yarn, it has to be cleaned and scoured before it can be processed. From their, it will be spun into one of the two types of yarn (or a combination of both), and then used to make clothing, rugs, or one of the other many useful products that wool can be processed into.
Whether or not this strange sheep's remarkable fleece in particular ends up on our store shelves or not, knowing the ways that wool is processed, weaved, and then turned into fine area rugs helps to give a better understanding of what rugs are made from, and what can be expected of them. For more answers about wool, rugs, and how the two should be handled and cared for, come in to the store and speak with one of our trained rug specialists.
4 Things to Do (and 3 Things Not to Do) When There's a Spill on Your Rug
No matter how careful we are, spills happen. It's inevitable that at some point, something will be spilled on a rug that could potentially stain it. Obviously, no owner wants their precious wool rug to have a permanent mark left on it. Here are some things that you can do (and some things you should never do) to prevent unsightly stains:
· DO: Act immediately. The longer a spill has time to set the more likely it is to leave a mark, and the harder it will be to get out. Use a paper towel to absorb the spilled material as soon as is possible. Paper towels are incredibly absorbent, and they will soak up much more of the spill, leaving less of it to soak into the rug and leave a stain.
· DO NOT: Use a towel. Towels, rags, and clothes are not as absorbent as paper towels, and they are more likely to leave some of the spilled material behind when used.
· DO: Use a spray bottle to squirt water over the spill. The fine mist from a spray bottle works much better than splashing or pouring water onto a stain. Be sure to use a new spray bottle and not an old one that was originally used as a container for something else . Reused bottles will often still have traces of their old chemicals in them, which can cause damage and wearing to the rug.
· DO NOT: Rub the spill. If you do, you will rub the spilled material deeper into rug's wool, causing the stain to set further and marking the rug permanently.
· DO: Dab or blot the stain. After spraying the water, gently dab the paper towel on the spill. This will pick up the material before it leaves a mark without grinding it into the rug's fibers.
· DO NOT: Use chemical cleaners. We recommend that you never use chemicals on a wool rug. Chemicals are far too harsh and will wear out the wool and dyes. For pet urine or other smelly messes, it is all right to use club soda or white vinegar instead of water. These aren't as harsh as chemical cleaners, and white vinegar in particular will absorb smells.
· DO: keep blotting until there's nothing left to absorb. If there's still material left from the spill after the sprayed water has been absorbed, spray some more and dab again. Repeat the process until the stain is gone.
By following these steps, you should be able to clean up most or all spills on your wool rug before they set and become a permanent stain. Be especially careful to avoid the actions listed above that can make the stain worse, or else you may end up doing your rug more harm than good.
For further tips and advice on maintaining your rug, consult our rug cleaning and care guide. If there's a stubborn stain or mark that you can't get out no matter what, please contact us and our rug specialists will help you get your rug back to as great a shape as is possible.
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