I'll be honest, when I was looking for ideas for sheep wool, I had no idea what a fantastic resource it is. I'd relegated wool to yarn for knitting itchy sweaters or making cute handmade toys. Little did I know that wool is all around us and can be used for so many applications. This renewable wonder product from our sheep insulates, cleans the air, resists fire, and protects our resources.
Some ideas for dairy sheep wool include using it for cleaning spills or as packing material for shipping. In the garden, wool can protect, water, and feed your plants and soil. Sheep wool has excellent insulation and thermal properties and can improve the acoustics and air quality in your home, too.
Wool is an eco-friendly fiber used worldwide since people started shearing their sheep. The USA produces about 18% of the world's wool, second to Australia. Unfortunately, the value of wool isn't great, so it's not an ideal source of income. However, if you have a pile of untreated wool from your dairy sheep, you can use it in and around your home. Let's take a look at some ideas.
1. Ideas For Using Dairy Sheep Wool In The Home
If you look carefully, you probably already have sheep wool in your home. Sheep wool is often used in rugs, lamp shades, curtains, upholstery fabric, and non-apparel applications. If you are looking for ways to use wool in your home, you can consider using it in the following ways:
Sheep Wool As An Underlay For Carpets
Putting sheep wool under your rug or carpet will likely put a spring in your step. It will be a barrier between your carpet and the floor, protecting it from wear and tear. It will also create additional insulation in the colder months, keeping the cold from seeping through the carpet.
Depending on the look you're going for, you can prepare the wool accordingly and slide it under your loose rugs. Or, you can throw a cleaned fleece down on the floor as a mat.
Sheep Wool As A Mattress Protector
Cleaned sheep wool under your sheet is used as a mattress protector because it's so absorbent. It would help to absorb any spills from incontinence or food, extending the life span of your mattress. Sheep wool is also hypoallergenic and deters parasites and dust mites, making it an ideal textile for a bed.
Some people use a cleaned fleece for their baby's crib or for the elderly and infirm. It's a cozy and comfortable surface on which to lie, allows for improved blood circulation, and lowers the chance of suffocation.
Sheep Wool As A Cleaning Material
Did you know that sheep wool is an effective cleaning material? Since it is so absorbent, sheep wool will suck up spills. As a result, it is incredibly effective for wiping up messes – including liquid and oil and even filtering impurities from dirty oil. So, it's great to have some wool on standby in the kitchen and garage for this purpose.
Sheep Wool As A Packing Material
If you plan on shipping a package, consider using eco-friendly wool as a packing material instead of cardboard, plastic, or polystyrene. Sheep wool is insulating and lightweight and great for filling in any gaps around the objects you're going to ship.
2. Dairy Sheep Wool Ideas For The Garden
There is a myriad of uses for sheep wool in the garden. What is convenient is that you don't need to clean the wool either – you can use the skirted, soiled, or otherwise-unusable wool in your garden in the following ways:
Using Sheep Wool For Compost
You can add untreated sheep wool as an alternative to peat for your composting system. Wool will take a bit longer to decompose than other organic matter. Still, it will add valuable nutrients to your compost mix. Some nutrients in sheep wool include about 9% nitrogen, 2% potash, and 1% phosphate.
Sheep Wool As Mulch
Sheep wool is a wonderful alternative to mulch for substantial plants like trees and hedges. You can place the wool around the base of the plants or trees for insulation and smothering weed growth. The soil around the plant will retain moisture and help prevent soil erosion, too.
Sheep Wool For Hanging Baskets
Instead of using mass-produced sphagnum moss lining for your hanging baskets, consider using wool. Wool can retain up to 35% of its weight in moisture, so it can act as a reservoir for the plants in hanging baskets. Additionally, it will slowly release helpful nutrients like nitrogen and phosphate into the soil.
Using Sheep Wool Dags For Fertilizer
Dags are the little poop balls that sometimes get matted into sheep wool. Usually, the skirted wool containing dags is thrown away. But instead, you can till them into the soil of your flower beds. The organic matter will break down and fertilize the soil. Additionally, the bits of wool will help to aerate the ground and keep it moist.
Sheep Wool As A Weed-Blocking Barrier
Instead of using plastic or geotextile sheets, you can use wool as a substrate for gravel pathways to block weeds. The wool acts as a weed barrier because it is difficult for the weeds to grow through the dense wool fibers.
Before laying the gravel, you can put down a 3-inch layer of uncompressed wool. Initially, it will feel springy, but it will settle to feel firm and solid while combating weeds for at least a year.
Using Sheep Wool In Hügelkultur
Wool acts as an excellent base in the sustainable Hügelkultur practice. Hügelkultur is where you make a raised bed from the ground up. Add organic matter such as tree branches, garden refuse, manure, and food scraps. You then cover it with soil and sow your seeds or seedlings. As the organic matter decomposes, it adds nutrients to the earth and feeds the plants.
Placing wool at the bottom of your Hügelkultur bed (between the ground and the pile) will aid water retention within the system. Additionally, the wool will decompose slowly and release its valuable nutrients into the soil.
3. Dairy Sheep Wool Ideas For Construction
Sheep wool has thermal, hygrothermal, and insulation properties that make it useful in construction. Here are a few examples:
Using Sheep Wool For Insulation
Sheep wool can be used in your loft or walls for insulation because of its thermal resistance. It has an excellent insulation rating (R-value) because it readily absorbs and releases moisture. The more aerated the wool, the better its insulation properties.
Using wool instead of fiberglass insulation is also eco-friendly and safer for you. You don't need protective clothing when carrying, tearing, or installing it. Additionally, some claim that wool absorbs volatile organic compounds (VOCs), purifying the air while insulating your home.
Sheep Wool As Brick Reinforcement
Some brick developers have discovered that adding wool and seaweed to bricks can fortify them even more. This development is still being researched to see its long-term efficacy. Still, it's an eco-friendly and affordable solution for construction.
4. Using Lanolin From Dairy Sheep Wool
Wool-bearing animals like sheep produce an oil called lanolin which is used in various skin care products and shampoos. Lanolin is produced by a sheep's sebaceous gland and is the byproduct of wool. It is also known as wool grease or wool wax and is fantastic for keeping skin hydrated. It is even safe for babies and can be used as an ointment for the nipples of breastfeeding mothers.
Some of the other uses of lanolin (and there are many) include auto lubrication and adhesive tape.
5. Using Dairy Sheep Wool For Your Pets
If you have pets, sheep wool can be helpful to create a cozy bed or to keep them warm. For example, you can use wool to stuff the cushions in a dog's bed or fleece for a snuggly place for them to lie. Additionally, you make a jacket for your dog for cold weather.
For horses, sheep wool is a good alternative for a saddle cloth, protecting the saddle from rubbing on the horse's back and sides. Alternatively, you can make a large blanket or rug for your horse for cold and rainy days so they can graze in the paddocks. It will keep them warm and dry despite inclement weather.
6. Clothing Ideas For Dairy Sheep Wool
Sheep wool is often used in clothing designed for colder climates because its thermal properties protect it from the cold. For example, prepared wool is used in gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, and jackets.
Different fabrics made from wool include tweed, felt, yarn, wool satin, and wool crepe. The type of fabric will depend on the kind of dairy sheep, the fiber quality, and where it was sheared from the sheep.
7. Craft Ideas For Dairy Sheep Wool
Since wool can be made into different fabrics, it is used in many crafting applications. For example, you can use wool to make felted animals and knitted or crocheted blankets. You can also use wool to stuff toy animals or other crafts. You just need to prepare the raw wool according to your needs, whether washing, flick carding, or spinning it into yarn.
Some craft ideas include the following:
- Friendship bracelets,
- Tassels and charms,
- Weaving mats,
- Finger-knitting, and
8. Art Ideas For Dairy Sheep Wool
For a long time, wool has been used as a medium for fiber art. Pressed felt and needle-felted wool are popular textiles for art, especially in wool paintings. Two other examples of art made from wool include woven wall hangings and sculptures made of wool.
9. Using Dairy Sheep Wool For Acoustics
Due to its thermal and hygrothermal properties, sheep wool is an excellent acoustic insulation material. A study confirmed this by showing that wool has a high hygroscopicity, reaching up to 35%. This means that wool can be used as an acoustic buffer in walls. Additionally, felt is used in instruments, e.g., piano hammers, because of its acoustic benefits.
10. Furniture Ideas For Dairy Sheep Wool
Sheep wool can be used in many ways to make furniture and is ideal for its hypoallergenic properties. Its hygroscopic properties make wool hypoallergenic for the following reason: Natural wool fibers process moisture in a way that makes an inhospitable environment for dust mites, mold, and bacteria.
Therefore, using sheep wool for upholstery or furniture stuffing is practical and healthier for our health. Many manufacturers who make seating for public transport use woolen upholstery on their seats for its health benefits. Consider using wool as a filling for mattresses, futons, throw pillows, or for upholstering your furniture.
11. Using Dairy Sheep Wool For Its Firefighting Properties
We've seen how helpful wool is for extreme weather conditions, but did you know that wool has a higher fire retardant property than many materials? The most effective wool for flame retardancy is merino wool. It has been used for many years to make uniforms and personal protective equipment (PPE) for firefighters and military personnel.
Using wool for interior needs such as curtains, carpets, and upholstery will help prevent the spread of fire in a building. Some other reasons why wool is a good choice for flame-resistant materials is that it doesn't melt, shrink, or stick to your skin. Nor does wool release odors or toxic chemicals into the air if it does burn.
Wool burns less quickly than other materials because of its high water and nitrogen content. Therefore, if it is ignited by a powerful heat source, it is more likely to smolder for a short time instead of burning outright. Additionally, the fibers in wool will swell enough to form an insulating layer, preventing the flame from spreading further.
The Different Types Of Dairy Sheep That Provide Wool
Now that we have some great ideas for wool, what dairy sheep breeds provide the most useful wool?
- Borderdale Sheep: Borderdale sheep produce long wool, about 30 – 35 microns in thickness. Their wool helps create heavyweight material.
- Debouillet Sheep: Debouillet fleece is elastic and soft. It is ideal for tight-fitting garments and baby clothing.
- Merino Sheep: Their wool is so fine (17 – 22 microns) it's like a cobweb. 17-22 microns.
- Rambouillet Sheep: Rambouillet fleece is ideal for making felt.
- Romney Sheep: Romney wool is thick (32 – 39 microns) and not ideal for clothing. Instead, their wool can be used for mats, outerwear, crafts, and baskets.
Dairy sheep wool has many uses besides clothing production and crafts. It's a textile that actually benefits your health and overall wellness. If you find yourself with an excess of sheep wool, consider turning it into something useful as an eco-friendly alternative to mass-produced and harmful textiles. Wool can be prepared to suit your needs in the home and garden and is free.