Does higher thread count determine quality?
In the previous century, sheets with a 180 thread count were an incredible luxury. “Now you see 1,000 thread count sheets - but you just can’t get that many threads on a loom,” says Pat Slaven, a textile expert at Consumer Reports.
Lets dive in to the issue to understand where these numbers come from and what else to consider when weighing quality.
Here at Holy Lamb Organics we've done a great deal of research to learn which threads go best with our bedding, and we'd like to share what we've learned with you.
There are four qualities to consider when searching for your perfect sheets.
Weave, Finish, Fiber Quality, and Thread Count
1. Weave Style
The weave is the pattern of vertical (warp) threads and horizontal (weft) threads that make up a cloth. This pattern will affect how the cloth physically feels, visually appears, and its longevity. This choice is personal and will reflect your needs.
- Percale woven cotton is cool, crisp, durable, and long-lasting.
- Jersey is a knit - an economical, stretchy, warm, and soft fabric.
- Flannel is plain woven and then the surface is brushed, resulting in the cozy feeling of the fabric. Compare flannels by their weight not their thread count - ours stack up at a warm 6oz.
- Our Linen is plain woven (like the picture above) for a light airy drape. Linen is more breathable than cotton but also more insulating
2. Type of Finish
Most sheets on the market are chemically or mechanically treated to keep them from wrinkling or shrinking, or to alter how they feel.
Examples of these finish treatments include:
- Wrinkle resistance:
- Shrinkage control:
Why is this important? Selecting sheets by how they first feel in the store can often be misleading. Some manufacturers add hand enhancers, such as silicone softeners, that wash out after the first laundry cycle. That soft feeling could also be masking a treatment that weakens your sheets or affects your health.
What about our sheets? Certified Organic Cotton is NEVER chemically finished. Our sheets are GOTS certified so you can rest assured of their purity from field to you. They are minimally processed, with no fancy finishing treatments, to keep the integrity of the strong organic cotton fiber. Why would you want to remove that?
Speaking of strong cotton fibers, high quality cotton fabric is made of longer cotton fibers which are naturally stronger and softer. These long fibers, or Extra-Long Staples (ELS) are "single-ply" strands that will always result in lower thread counts. Our sheets use ELS cotton fibers to ensure you have the best sheets.
Did you catch that? longer fibers = lower thread count = higher quality
4. Thread Count
Finally! You probably thought we'd never get here. Let's dig in....
Thread count is literally how many horizontal (weft) and vertical (warp) threads cross in an inch. Depending on the weave structure, there are only so many threads you can physically fit on the loom.
Lets explore several ways that the thread count could soar:
- Thread Thickness - if you use thinner, less durable thread, you can fit more threads on the loom. This method does not increase comfort and can significantly decrease the strength and therefore the lifespan of your sheets.
- Count Thread Ply - instead of weaving with single strong Extra Long Staple threads, you can twist lower quality threads together into 2, 3, or even 4 ply threads.
If you count the ply rather than the thread you can multiply the actual thread count.
Who wouldn't be confused, if companies use two different methods of reporting thread count - one accepted and one a little misleading. Not to mention those plied threads lead to rougher fabric because you can feel the ridges of the ply.
- Picks - this method is traditionally used to create decorative patterns in woven fabric. Extra threads run along the weft creating patterns independent of the main weave pattern. When used to increase thread count, the "pick" is just a second thread paired with the main thread. It does not add a pattern. If filler picks are used excessively, they can strain the warp threads and weaken the overall fabric
Our sheets? No filler here!
Our Sateen, Percale, Linen, and Fleece sheets are woven simply with the strongest fibers and a suitable weave. Rather than compare thread counts, remember the bigger picture and be careful you are not distracted by artificial finishes. At Holy Lamb Organics, you are getting the best quality sheets that will long outlast any 1200 thread count sheet on the market!
And don't forget, natural fibers are more breathable, and our sheets are certified GOTS organic - they are better for the planet and for you! When the distractions are removed, you are really left with one choice, how do you want your sheets to feel?
This is an image of natural un-treated wool and human hair compared microscopically. Note the raised cuticle "scales" or "burrs" on the wool. This is where all the magic happens.
There are a few things to note:
Patagonia claims: "Because the wastewater from the wool chlorination process contains chemicals of environmental concern, it is not accepted by water treatment facilities in the United States. Therefore all chlorinated wool is processed in other countries, then imported." (Found on Patagonia.com Fabric: Chlorine Free Wool) Although a super-wash treatment facility, which utilizes chlorination is operating in Jamestown, South Carolina, hopefully operating with stringent wastewater treatment.
With the right know-how, you can care for un-treated wool. Read on to learn how:
- It can be as easy as laying out your comforters, pillows and toppers in the sun on a gorgeous summer day.
- Leave them out for a couple of hours, then flip them over to sun and cleanse the other side.
- Sunning actually does quite a bit for your bedding. It will naturally deodorize, bleach, disinfect, and revitalize your bedding. Give it a try - we still have a few good sunny weeks of summer left.
If you have additional questions about cleaning, sunning and refreshing your bedding, send them and we'll answer those right away too.
Bedding is a great fit to apply our cradle-to-grave practices. There's an opportunity -and a challenge- when plastics and other synthetic materials come into our work environment. A bit this month about how we navigate this on a daily basis:
What do you do when you're 100% committed to never ever throwing any trash, scrap or packaging into the landfills? It's absolutely just not an option at Holy Lamb Organics. Yes, we're a bit obsessed, in a good way!
"Today Americans discard about 33.6 million tons of plastic each year, but only 6.5 percent of it is recycled and 7.7 percent is combusted in waste-to-energy facilities, which create electricity or heat from garbage."
This is actually from an article published in 2012, via Columbia University. This post goes on to share that "The remaining 28.8 million tons of annual plastic waste ends up in landfills where it may take up to 1,000 years to decompose, and potentially leak pollutants into the soil and water."
We know we don't have to contribute to these numbers, so here's a bit of the plan we've developed ...and a little about what we have in the works too.
Just sturdy clean boxes for shipping
If you've purchased from us before (Thank You!) you might've noticed an absence of plastic wrap inside the order you received. We believe in good, sturdy, clean boxes. We inspect each order not only for the quality of the product, but also the shipping container - to get our handmade products to you safely.
Many customers do have multiple chemical sensitivities. So we offer the option of tucking your toppers, pillows and other purchases inside a Bio Bag, which is made from corn and is compostable. Simply send an email with your order number letting us know this preference.
See more about our Plastic-Free Packaging Policy.
What about plastics that get sent to us?
We're pretty serious about the Zero-Waste policy. Absolutely nothing from our facility goes to a landfill. Ever. 15 years and counting. So we've done some digging on how to best recycle and up-cycle the plastics that arrive at our doors.
For instance, our batting deliveries
Case in point, our American Premium Eco-Wool™ batting is delivered in long cylindrical plastic bags. We've developed a few upcycling and recycling procedures around this, but have found a gem of a partner in waste reduction.
- Recycle: All of our wool bags are sent back to the mill to be reused. When the life of this LDPE bag is expired it's recycled!
For LDPE Recycling:
We recycle all of our "thin" film plastics at a place in Tacoma called Full Container Recovery. It's useful to know because Olympia, and many other cities in Washington, no longer accepts this thin plastic in curbside recycling bins. We bring our stockpiled thin plastics to Full Container for recycling. And we're grateful for this service.
We ship our material samples to you in Tyvek
We reuse these bags until the end of their life cycle. When they are no longer useful, we collect this material, a flashspun polyethelyne synthetic, and seal it up in a box received from another vendor and ship it to CFS Recycling at the address below.
For Tyvek recycling:
337 A Industrial Drive
Petersburg VA 23803
It's a bit of a game
There's a delicious sense of pride and satisfaction in recycling and re-homing materials. It can feel like a puzzle to research and then find the right service. Then, it's a win every time we connect and redistribute those resources to their best purposes.
And there's more to come
We are developing with our mill new & reusable packaging to ship the wool to our facility. The idea is, to eliminate the need for the plastic wrapping altogether.
This is a special collaboration with one of our partners and we're hoping to share more soon!
Make it your own
Our practices are not proprietary. All are welcome.
So join us, or make your own game of developing your personal Plastic-Free or Zero-Waste plan.
It feels good, and it's definitely FTW, or "for the win."
Let's take a closer look at the wool characteristics from 7 different breeds of sheep that make up the bulk of our fantastic Premium Eco-Wool™. Our trusted mill developed their Sustainable Wool Program for family sheep farms in the USA.
Have you heard this phrase?
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
This is true in the case of the wools we source here at Holy Lamb Organics. One of the main 100% wool blends we use to handcraft our natural bedding products is called Premium Eco-Wool™.
The following breakout gives an introduction to most of the types of sheep fleeces used in our Premium Eco-Wool™. You can see already it's a diverse and long list!
A popular breed with a heavy white fleece and medium wool grade, the Columbia wool brings a sturdiness to our blend.
The Wool Gatherer Carding Mill
Balancing all of these wool fibers into a premium 100% wool blend happens at the Wool Gatherer Carding Mill. Our trusted, like-minded partners, the experts at our mill are the artists who source the wool directly from family farms in California and Oregon.
At a USA facility, under the guidance of our mill, the wool is scoured, or cleaned, and the fibers of different breeds are blended. Then the mill will card the wool, a step which further cleans and aligns the wool fibers. All this work produces an incredible uniform material for us to use in our bedding. Read more about this process in the mill link above.
Our mill is more than 100 years old and has created the Sustainable Wool Program that gives small USA sheep farmers a means to sell their fibers right here at home. We're so proud of the work this mill does, and how our organic natural bedding fosters the economy for local family farms through this partnership.
We are also proud of the ethical treatment the sheep receive in our Sustainable Wool Program. Read more about the high standards farmers in this program uphold here.
Everyone wins when sustainability, best practices and quality veterinary and stewardship of sheep are at play.
Indeed, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And we're proud to be a part of the whole.
It's a joy, a game and a puzzle to use ALL of our organic cotton cloth, fine wool batting, cotton-backed wool fleece to maintain our commitment to being a zero-waste manufacturer.
How do we go "all the way" to incorporate the small -and even tiny- pieces until there's nothing left?...and there's nothing to throw away? Largely, its thanks to our ReKindle Collection.
Where does imagination meet satisfaction, functionality and fun?
Well, everywhere at Holy Lamb Organics, but especially so in our ReKindle Collection.
This is an entire department that is under continual development, expansion and testing that aligns perfectly with our core values and Zero Waste Philosophy. The whole line was created to simply use what was left after cutting for our larger handmade bedding goods, like comforters and toppers.
It serves and ensures that nothing goes to a landfill from Holy Lamb Organics. Ever.
What could be better?
We brought in professional creatives and neighbors! We asked for help from our local artist friends. Their skills, creativity and hearts dreamt up toys and booties we probably wouldn't have come up with ourselves. Plus, it's more fun to work together to create soft huggable plushies, wands and warmers.
Artists get paid for their works, there's more to offer you, and we get to have a richer experience with our community and neighbors too.
With care & quality
New products are dreamed, designed, prototyped, tested and then incorporated after much scrutiny and much care. The quality of our work is critical. These are the throw pillows that your family will be tossing on the couch, after all.
The stitching must be small, secure and safe for babies who will be playing with the woollen balls.
The covers and pet beds must be ready for your furry friend too.
And the cushions and poufs must be comfortable enough for after-feast or pre-game lounging.
Any leftover material from the ReKindle program is donated to schools for arts programming. Then the tiniest bits and strings are reused as mulch or made into compost for our garden. These practices align with our commitment to being a Zero Waste bedding manufacturer and make the ReKindle Collection all the more satisfying for us.
And even a bit...magical.
Here's to all of us during this warm & cheerful season!
It was an easy choice for us to become a fragrance-free company. It's a choice already ingrained in how we select partners for the cotton and wool we choose and use, the absolute absence of fire retardant chemicals and even how we prepare individually to show up to work each day...and why. Take a look.
Many of our customers have conditions of asthma, allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Some customers don't have a condition, but really just have a preference for fragrance free products and rely on companies like ours who understand and work to seek out non-processed, non-chemical raw goods in order to create each product.
Added fragrances can act as an irritant and may actually induce side effects. Side effects from fragrance exposure may include: headaches, dizziness, irritability, confusion, anxiety, eye irritation and redness, respiratory distress or difficulty breathing and there many more we could add to the list.
Our step toward fragrance free
We take many small steps to achieve a scent-free environment and to guarantee scent-free products. It's continually improving as we incorporate steps to our buying, production, and, yes, even returns policies. We are committed to this for our customers, but also for us. We need to sleep at night too...so here's what we're doing about it. Daily.
Part of our core philosophy
From the About Us page:
We guarantee that our facility is a dedicated scent-free environment. A good percentage of customers count on us to deliver scent-free products. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a concern for many of our customers and employees.
- Our employees come to work using only natural and scent-free products.
- All of our cleaning products are guaranteed natural & safe.
- We ask our customers when visiting our showroom to be scent-free.
Making it easy to guarantee
The processes we implement make it easier to maintain a fragrance free guarantee:
- No synthetics
- No conventionally grown cotton
- No chemicals or fire retardants
- No carbonization of wool
- No bleaching of wool
- No sheep dipping
We choose vendors and producers with like-minded core values and philosophies.
We also build our products daily inside a fragrance free environment and prepare for work with fragrance free personal products.
And we're not alone
From the City of Portland, OR to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA and even a university in Canada, University of Calgary in Alberta, has deemed the community scent free after a "We Share the Air" campaign. All students, teachers and workers may use scent free classrooms, library, theaters and other facilities and breathe easy.
One of the first cities in North America to "go fragrance free" at work is Halifax, Nova Scotia...and that happened more than 23 years ago. A whole generation of people have grown up and gone to work without wearing scented beauty or personal products in public places.
Making the best bedding we can
We feel good about our committment and choice to prepare for work and work in a scent free environment to make the most natural, most pure bedding products we can.
It's personal when you, your family and loved ones sleep on the products we make.
We chose to be a fragrance free company long ago, and actively, willingly practice this choice every single day.
We're growing! In addition to having the best beds in the world, a few of our team members share about the work culture, the quality standards and the experience of working for a bedding manufacturer in a small town near Olympia.
There’s more than one job opening at Holy Lamb Organics, located in Oakville, WA, nearly 30 miles from Olympia.
For the right people, positions at Holy Lamb Organics provide a unique, diverse and safe environment, sustainable business philosophy, rigorous quality standards and daily connection with coworkers who feel like close allies inside of work hours, and good, caring friends once off the clock.
Add all these up together and you have a satisfying life, lifestyle and community. Plus, chances are good you'll also have "the best bed in the world" says team member Rebecca Kenney.
The winter season is beginning to pick up. Orders for shipping and shopping start hopping this month and accelerate as the temperatures drop and the year draws to a close.
What’s it like during the busiest season?
"It's definitely all-hands on deck" shares Willow Whitton, HLO's owner and founder. "And we focus on cross-training everyone and support each other with teams who check quality for all orders. We magically get it done at the end of the day even when someone is out with the flu."
Each person on the team definitely knows they need to pull their weight and still, there's a camaraderie, care and open communication that makes it fun.
Rebecca Kenney is on her 2nd leg of working at HLO. Her first time was 2009-2010, then she left to have a baby. She came back in 2014 and definitely saw that the "...business grew exponentially. There's more hustle ...and we all have the best beds in the world."
"This all sounds great," you may be thinking. "But what about when something goes wrong? What does THAT look and feel like?"
When asked this, Willow shared that "Every mistake is seen as an opportunity." The method is to learn from it and work in new quality control measures to improve their game for next time.
It's never going to feel awesome or amazing to drop the ball or do something wrong, but it's also not the end of the world and in fact it's the best way to improve upon a system. The point, and choice we make, is to make it better.
Quality control in teams
Let's go a little deeper into the quality-control-in-teams thing.
Everyone at HLO is on a team for quality control.
This is for a few reasons:
1. Our customers are paying for the best qualtiy bedding in hopes of the best quality of sleep and comfort.
2. When quality checking is done in teams, people don't feel so singled out if something is below standard.
3. Accountability to each person on the team so the standard stays really high.
"It can seem nitpicky, but the standard is so high," says Rebecca.
Part of the work in onboarding a new team member into the team is the education of what the standard is.
It's really important for everyone to have the same understanding about what the HLO quality standard is...and also what it isn't. Everyone has a different idea about what "good enough" is when they come in. So, part of the training is in coming to understand the specifications of quality we expect so each customer gets the best bedding we can make BY HAND!
Longtime team member (of more than seven years!) Ann Curfman says she "...loves the philosophy of the company, we're all trying to help our customers get their best sleep possible."
The following is an article that my dad and I co-authored in 2009 before he passed away in 2012. My deepest gratitude will always be to my father who helped me at every step of my life. -Willow
By Willow Whitton & Michael Whitton
Should we be concerned when we lay our babies into their cribs and/or beds? They’re just there to rest and sleep, right? We understand this quality time is for their restoration, health, and growth. The last thing we want to find out is the air they will be breathing and the bedding and mattress they are sleeping on might be harmful for them.
An adult breathes in and out 15-20 times/min. An infant breathes 30-60 times/min. A toddler breathes 24-40 times/min. A pre-schooler breathes 22-34 times/min. The simple math is that a toddler, while resting or sleeping in their bed will breathe in and out 15,360 times a day, just during the time they are in bed. This figure would be even higher for an infant. As parents, what our children breathe is of great importance to us.
In 2006, the Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC issued and updated their rules for mattress manufacturing regarding “fire regulations” and “fire retardants”. This was the first update since the creation of the Rules in the 70s. The CPSC Rules (16 CFR Part 1633) states that mattresses must be fire retardant. Mind you, this is a good thing, in and of itself, problem is, that in the manufacturing process, chemicals are commonly used to accomplish this purpose. In doing so, a potential health hazard for our children is created. This article deals with the problems chemicals pose and offers a better and more natural bedding solution.
Although these flame retardants pose great risks to human health, there are no current REGULATIONS IN PLACE THAT REQUIRE manufacturers TO inform people regarding, the flame retardants they use. Due to patents and such, the majority of bed manufacturers will not disclose chemicals used in their “fire retardant” process, for fear of divulging their proprietary secrets and rights. As consumers, we have the right TO NOT BUY a mattress IF full disclosure of its contents HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN. As a parent, it is your right, to know about everything your baby/child is breathing while either resting or sleeping.
While it is generally accepted that fire retardant rules and regulations are good intentioned, it is the parents who are ultimately responsible for the cumulative effects from “any & all” chemicals that might reach our children. Everywhere you turn, as a consumer of children’s goods, at nearly every turn, you get “the buck passed to you”. Usually stating or claiming “insufficient data to evaluate this product”, or “at this level and at this exposure, this poses no immediate health threat to human life”. As parents, the buck stops here. As parents, we are responsible for the cumulative effect of everything in our children’s lives. We are told, over and over again, that exposure to, contact with, or breathing small amounts of chemicals poses no imminent health risk(s). But, as parents, we are keenly aware that it is the cumulative effect we are concerned about, not the single or exposure or contact with questionable chemicals or agents.
In the Federal Registry publication of the Final Rules (16 CFR Part 1633), reads the following: “The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) & the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will continue to evaluate the potential effects of fire retardant treatments to ensure they do not present a hazard to consumers, workers, or the environment.” What we have here is a situation where the long term effects of the chemical fire retardants are not fully known. At best, the rules/regulations concerning bedding are a work in progress. Only time will tell what the eventual outcome will be. As a consumers, we need to be aware of all that is in our children’s environment and world.
The Natural Solution: Wool Bedding
The very best thing a parent or consumer can do would be to completely bypass the entire issue of fire retardant chemicals by purchasing a natural bedding mattress with thick outer layers of wool. By its very nature, wool is fire retardant. A mattress wrapped in wool satisfactorily passes every fire test available and no chemicals have to be used. By meeting the Federal CPSC rules (16 CFR Part 1633) and then producing a natural bedding mattress without chemicals, the better of 2 worlds is accomplished (fire retardant and natural bedding). Additionally, it IS A SUSTAINABLE RAW MATERIAL THAT NOT ONLY IS NOT HARMFUL BUT IS ACTUALLY HEALTHY FOR YOUR BODY.
Furthermore, wool is naturally dust mite free, resists molds, and is naturally hypo-allergenic. Many commercially made mattresses achieve these same attributes, but unfortunately, do so by using harmful chemicals. Unintentionally, the chemicals contribute to the cumulative effect of one’s exposure to harmful diseases. As consumers and parents, avoiding exposure to chemicals that are not listed, due the guarding of a manufacturer’s proprietary rights, is a better choice. You also have the right to choose a chemical free ORGANIC bedding for your child.
If your child has allergies, asthma, and/or chemical sensitivities, you might want to consider the choice of AN ORGANIC MATTRESS, wool pillow, or a wool comforter. When is comes to natural bedding, wool has many forms. Consider all of your options.
Your safest bet for baby's bedding is more natural than you think.
We discovered a study* that examines Crib Death (often mistakenly called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS) and its causes.
According to Sprott's study, there is, indeed, evidence as to causes of this horrible heart-breaking occurence.
"The cause of cot death (often erroneously termed Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS) has been elucidated as being due to extremely toxic ‘nerve’ gases generated by fungal activity on chemicals frequently present in cot mattresses and in certain other bedding commonly used in baby bedding."
Specifically, these are fire retardant chemicals, plus synthetic materials that...uh..."naturally" (?) off-gas chemicals. Yuk.
Sprotts's first estimation of accidental poisoning was in 1986. He suggested that one or more gasses were generated by "microbiological activities on chemicals in the baby's cot."
We suggest the chemicals mentioned are the chemicals used to treat the baby's bedding by the manufacturers.
At this time, Sprotts wasn't able to identify the specific gasses.
That came in 1989.
"In 1989 B.A. Richardson of Britain  independently came to the same conclusion, but in addition was able to identify the gases as the hydrides and/or lower alkyl derivates of phosphorus (P), arsenic (As) and antimony (Sb). He also identified a common fungus, Scopulariopsis brevicaulis, as being probably the principal organism with that capability to be found in babies’ mattresses and other bedding."
Further studies and tests showed that wrapping a mattress, to contain the gasses, did decrease the instances of Crib Death. So that was a step in the right direction....
WOW! It's scary to think that as a parent, you'd need to protect your baby from her own bed! Further time, fear & investment into a wrapper. Yikes.
What if infants were to sleep on a completely clean, natural bed...with a natural fire retardant....with no chemicals, fungus or "microbiological activities"? No side effects, no off-gassing....no gasses "to be contained" in the first place?
Some sheepskins, as the article further notes, can be treated with arsenic...however, ours Happy Lamb Fleeces are not. (And actually, there's no "skin" involved...it's fleece.)
Knowing the source...indeed, knowing our sources and how they operate their businesses are key components to making sure the bedding your beloved little one sleeps on is part of the our values based work ethic.
We know the shepherds. We've met a few of the sheep.
That's part of our commitment to making sure you've got the safest, purest bedding for your baby...and your whole family. We know what's going into the wool because we chose the shepherds for their sustainable methods in caring for and nurturing their sheep.
That's only part of it. There's also the incredible magic-like qualities that wool carries naturally: improved & deeper sleep, an ability to keep you & your family dry, safe & warm throughout the year.
If you're just getting started in incorporating natural materials into the nursery, consider these ideas:
Investing in an all wool crib mattress is our number one suggestion when it comes to creating a safe organic nursery. Just skip the chemicals altogether.
Say you have a conventional mattress and buying a replacement just isn't an option. You can still create a safe, all natural surface (& barrier) for your baby to rest on.
Last Note: Mythbusting the Bumper
Just one more second for an educational moment.
There's a misconception that (all) baby bumpers lead to SIDS. It's not the bumpers themselves but the reduction in air flow which is just enough to trap more of those toxic gases inside where baby is sleeping. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a warning against baby bumpers in 2011. That's how bumpers came to get a bad wrap.
The point we're trying to make here is about those toxic gasses in the first place. When materials are used that don't release toxic gasses at all, then the whole bed is safe and breatheable for baby. Even bumpers.
Baby bumpers, when it's made with organic cotton and breatheable wool materials... on an organic mattress with wool bedding is perfectly safe. After all, not all bedding ...or bumpers... are created equally.
All right, we've been plenty clear about safe bedding for baby....but just to be sure, we'll be sharing more this summer about fire retardant chemicals and possibly more about baby bedding & safety.
Here's to sweet dreams for everyone!
*Note: An additional article was written based on this same study. It was published under another bedding company's site that offers their own solution of a gel-based mattress with an organic cotton cover and the additional option of a polythene mattress wrap. While we prefer our methods, we're very grateful for more information on this topic.
UNmake your bed.
What?! YES! Serving up the why and how you’ll freshen & clean your organic wool bedding effectively, naturally ...and perhaps...lazily. Enjoy!
Who would have thought that unmaking your bed would actually air it out and freshen it?
Well it’s true. All you need do is pull the covers waaaay back. Opening it up so as much of the insides of your wool covers, including comforter and topper or mattress, are exposed.
Why? So the moisture you gave off while sleeping has a chance to dissipate. Moisture collects in the wool fibers and wicks it away from your body, while regulating your temperature. It’s the beauty of wool, really. So, unmaking your bed is a little like “letting it breathe”...so the moisture in the wool fibers dries.
Let the sunshine in...by putting your bedding outside
Placing your wool bedding in the sun a few times per year is an excellent way to refresh and cleanse your bedding using the benefits of the sun. Sunning does quite a bit for your bedding. It will naturally deodorize, bleach, disinfect, and revitalize your bedding.
Try it once, on a sunny day, for a few hours. Flip it and let it sun outside for another few hours. See how you and your family like it. Then schedule more accordingly. Consider mid-Spring (right about now), the beginning of Summer and perhaps the end of Summer too. See what you think.
Just a friendly reminder to wash all exterior organic cotton casings and sheets for Spring.
Protection for your bedding from everyday use is a good thing. Kind of like an insurance policy for your wool bedding...especially if you have kids.
A few examples:
- Place your comforter inside a duvet cover
- Put your pillow inside a zippered pillow cover and then into a pillow case
- For mattress toppers, we recommend a layered system of first a moisture barrier topped with a thin absorbent cotton blanket and topped with a fitted sheet
Plus, care instructions
Do you need another copy of the care instructions for your bedding? Email a request and we’ll send it ASAP. (Consider bookmarking our FAQ page for emergency cleaning options...just in case)
If you have additional questions about cleaning, sunning and refreshing your bedding, send them and we'll answer those right away too.
We think so. And we're not alone. Here's a bit of the "why" behind choosing natural wool for better rest.
A lower heart rate = deeper state of relaxation
A study at Polytechnic University of Wales did a study on skin temperature, and the temperature and humidity of the air next to the skin while people slept under several kinds of comforters.
This study showed that those people who slept under wool comforters, had lower heart rates and they stayed lower for the duration of those sleeps. A lowered heart rate indicates a deeply relaxed state.
On feathers & fillers
The same study compared feather-filled and synthetic-filled comforters had no effect on lowering the heart rates in the sleepers. No diminished quality of sleep, but no improved quality either.
Wool regulates your body temp and insulates accordingly
It's built to breathe, wick, regulate and insulate.
Imagine woolly sheep on a rainy chilly pasture. They're outside grazing, sleeping and playing even in the rain and cold. Wool breathes, wicks, regulates and insulates these lovely animals. Wool does the same for us when we safely shear, card, and clean their wool in warmer times and create comforters from those fibers.
Natural wool fleece fibers are tightly crimped, and air between the fibers actually the retains warmth between the fibers when needed. It also automatically absorbs moisture away from the skin when we begin to perspire in sleep. It does this before we even know we're too warm or perspiring.
Before you shy away with idea of heavy and scratchy wool...
Our watchwords for wool are: Clean, soft, fluffy. The wool we source from local sheep and our century-old local mill is the cleanest and softest wool we've found. We're incredibly lucky to have them all so close
"The guiding principle of earlier years, “the thicker and heavier the duvet, the better the level of thermal insulation”, has been disproved by tests at Hohenstein..." (Hohenstein Institute tests textiles of all kinds relating to clothing and bedding physiology.)
It's what's inside that counts
If you stuffed one of our comforter casings with linen or corduroy, it would be heavier than wool, but probably not as warm.
You could also put synthetic filler into a casing, but you'd be missing out on all the additional benefits of using natural wool. Plus, you'd be breathing in any synthetic chemicals used to create and pretreat those fillers as well.
Soft fluffy wool is the magic ingredient here.
It's simply built to regulate body temperatures, wick moisture away and insulate as needed. Simply. Easily. Naturally.
A matter of preference
Some folks do prefer a heavier or lighter-weight comforter without much regard to insulation or warmth generated. It's the weight, not the warmth, for them.
We understand that. At Holy Lamb Organics we develop our comforter products with fluffy natural clean wool in different weights to account for preferences.
There are different amounts of wool in each of our comforter products. That said, most customers choose our
Perfect Comfort Comforter temperature weight.
Additional benefits of wool in the bedroom
You may feel more able to relax in a clean room on a clean bed.
While wool bedding won't prevent dust or get out the vacuum cleaner for you,
wool is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and dust mites can't survive in wool bedding.
So if you're allergic to mites, or just a little freaked out at the thought of them, you'll definitely breathe deeper and sleep easier with wool filled and organic cotton cased pillows, comforters and even a mattress.
Natural wool bedding lowers heart rates, promoting deeper rest and states of relaxation so your sleep is the best you can get. You'll love falling asleep in your beautiful bed, and you'll awaken with the full benefits a deep restorative sleep will bring.
It's mighty exciting our 15th year in business coinciding with the Year of the Sheep! We took a look around this month and found that sheep, rams and lambs are indeed, everywhere. In literature, Chinese astrology and tradition, in ancient civilizations, religion, the media...even in our dreams. Let's hold a birthday candle to....The Sheep!
The Year of the Sheep
In the Chinese Astrology Calendar, we’re approaching the Year of the Sheep, or sometimes Ram. Specifically, 2015 is the Year of the Green Wooden Sheep.
Travel China Guide notes, “People under the sign of the sheep are tender, polite, filial, clever, and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty, faith in a certain religion and a special fondness for quiet living. They are wise, gentle and compassionate and can cope with business cautiously and circumspectly.”
References in Religion
Lambs, rams and sheep are mentioned frequently throughout pastures of religion and mythology.
In the Bible, Christ is known as the “lamb of God”, and Jesus is also referred to as a Shepherd, with his followers as being a “flock.” There’s the story of the Lion & the Lamb, the Sacrificial Lamb and more.
Per, the website ThinkDifferentlyAboutSheep.com, “In Judaism in accordance with the mandate of the Torah...a lamb, known as the Paschal Lamb, was sacrificed on the eve of the Passover".
In Masonic culture, lambs signify innocence and purity. And folks, there’s plenty more on the topic.
There's a popular story in Buddhist tradition where Buddha carries and injured lamb behind a flock and shepherd as well. We won't give away what happens, but you can read it here.
Even in Islaamic culture, sheep and lambs have an important part to play in the Festival of Sacrifice, commemorating the Prophet Ibrahim.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list but proves a point that these beautiful animals are easy to find in traditions and cultures around the world. Let's move on.
Rams were symbols of power and virility in ancient Sumeria and Egypt. These were polytheistic times, when people believed in many Gods. More than one of these gods appeared with the head of a ram.
One was known as Khnum, originally the god of the source of the Nile and believed to have created all the other hundreds of gods and goddesses in Egyptian times.
Again, plenty to work with in this category, but we have more examples to share...so...Onward!
Lambs in Lit
George Orwell’s Animal Farm is one longstanding classic, which included Sheep in its cast of characters.
In this story, it was the flock, rather than an individual sheep, that was a character. Almost as an updated version of a Greek Chorus, the flock even breaks into chants or phrases as a group. Per Gradesaver.com, “The Sheep--true to the typical symbolic meaning of “sheep”--represent those people who have little understanding of their situation and thus are willing to follow their government blindly.”
Not very complimentary to sheep --or to people either. But the flock stands as a group that’s loyal and willing to follow a leader. It's also a group that can change its mind to follow another leader.
In the smash whimsical story of Babe!, the character called Old Ewe (played by Evelyn Krape) befriends the orphaned wee pig and exhibits characteristics of gregariousness, nurturing, protectiveness and loyalty. She also reinforces the importance of manners in the young pig.
A nod also goes to the Greek mythological story of Jason & the Argonauts. Whether you’ve seen the 1963 film or the 2000 release, Jason is in search of …..wait for it….
The Golden Fleece!
This is THE most coveted gift of the Gods and it's a requirement to get it in order for Jason to secure the throne of Iolcus in Thessaly.
One word for this Fleece-as-a-Prize story: Epic.
If a lamb appears in your dream, it’s said to represent love, warmth and gentleness.
AWWW! (Doesn’t that just make you want to take a nap right now?)
It's no joke that sheep are on our minds throughout each day. It's no coincidence that our 15th year lands smack in the middle of the Year of the Sheep.
- The wool bedding we make for your home symbolizes and imbues love, warmth and gentleness.
- The care and preparation in the design and our sustainable work philosophies represent the loyalty and protectiveness we hold toward our precious resources. And toward making an excellent product for you and your loved ones.
So, here’s to the Year of the Sheep!
And here's to You! Our flock of friends and family! Please help us to celebrate and blow out all the candles in this, our 15th year.
Sheep are symbols of the simple goodness we bring to life when we have the desire and affection to do good for others and to be good ourselves. --Unknown
Maximize your time and budget with these double-duty holiday ideas.
Everyone wants to make the most of this time of year. Days are shorter, there's plenty of cooking, visiting, baking and shopping to enjoy.
Here are a couple of ideas that will stretch your budget, resources, time and even space!
Consider our bedding as a wrap...and as a gift.
Think about it. Many of our bedding pieces are designed to carry other pieces of bedding. That's just their nature.
The most obvious are duvet covers and pillowcases. They're basically large pockets, right? So, at this point, your presents are already halfway wrapped!
Our duvet covers already function as a wrapper for...yes, duvets or comforters.
Other things to slip into a duvet cover could be:
- Framed art pieces or posters
- Larger boxes, bulky gifts
- Board games
- Kitchen appliances or computer electronics (think griddles, cast iron pans or even printers)
A new set of sheets is definitely a great gift in itself. And, if you have a few additional gifts, consider pulling the pillow cases aside, placing the rest of the sheet set in the bottom of a case, and tucking those additional presents in on top.
What could those be?
Bunch the top of the case opening together and secure with a beautiful simple piece of ribbon. Let it be easy to untie, too.
Simple. Beautiful. Sustainable.
Let your imagination take you. And let this simple tip save you some time, effort, money and even space.
Remember, there's no paper, tape, wasted paper scraps or even space in storing awkward, easy-to-rip-and-wrinkle rolls. You're shopping for a present that acts as a wrap.
You can roll, wrap, tuck and tie blankets, sheets and duvet covers around just about any other present. And if you make it a game...you might even have some fun.
A bit of simple ribbon will secure a closure and your loved ones will still be able to delight in "opening" their gifts.
Thinking of you this busy season,
Willow and the Team at Holy Lamb Organics
The winter is all about bundling up in magic and reflection. Keeping close can also include keeping small local businesses close, keeping resources and materials close, and ultimately keeping community close.
Shopping small businesses for gifts and for food throughout the season has a major impact on the immediate community’s economy and the people who work there. Part of your support in dollars reinforces the business practices and choices each small business makes.
Here at Holy Lamb Organics, part of our commitment to sustainable practices in every step, is that we absolutely manufacture right here in the USA. Since we began, this is how we choose daily to conduct our business.
One step further - or closer! - we also consider many things when we spend our dollars on resources like raw natural wool, and the mill we work with. One aspect we review is how far a resource is located from us prior to beginning to work with them.
Transporting resources has a cost beyond dollars...there are also emissions, the use of fossil fuels and other things to account for. We look for vendors with like-minded business practices and we minimize the global costs, and our eco-footprint as well.
Don’t forget to ReKindle!
Making something more from what was already there. This happens between people during winter holidays. It happens here too.
Our ReKindle Program is one more way we make good on our Zero Waste Philosophy. It’s actually a way that we keep local artists close too! Here’s how it works:
There are many pieces of fabric, batting and fleece that are “left-over cuts” just by making our larger items like comforters, toppers and even pillows. One of the uses for these special pieces is to create new products from them, many designed and built by local artists.
A few ReKindled gift ideas
There really is something for everyone in this program.
- Your newest family members may enjoy a squishy soft woolen ball or a toasty-soft pair of baby booties.
- Your faithful, furry companion will love a special warm pet bed of her very own. (BTW, it’s a bed that dust mites cannot survive in.)
- A mom-to-be will appreciate all natural, so soft nursing pads and a supportive body pillow.
Or give a few extra special touches to your own home if you’re hosting:
- A neck roll for extra support on the guest bed (more gift tips here).
- Wool cushions and poufs make instant extra seating room for visiting (or napping) after a big meal.
We’d love to be a partner and resource for your holiday gifts this year and beyond.
Here’s to a close & cozy season for all of us!
How woolen bedding can make your family holidays happier.
Got guests coming to town for holidays? If you’re putting up friends and family in a guest room, we have a way to make their sleep as deep and restful as can be.
After all, being away from one’s own bed and bedtime routine can upset sleep cycles.
Then, add the excitement and, honestly, stress, of the holiday season. And, voila, you may experience levels of crankiness due to missed sleep that “un-joll-ify” the holidays for everyone.
Consider introducing natural wool bedding pieces to your guest room.
Wool is a great temperature-control fiber. It wicks away moisture and keeps your body’s temperature regulated throughout sleep. Not too cold and yes….
Even if they “sleep hot”
If your guests tend to “sleep hot” or are always “running on the warm side,” don’t worry.
Wool bedding has come a long way from the regulation heavy scratchy military issue blanket.
There are different lofts and thicknesses of a wool comforter. Our wool batting, for example, is a fluffy, airy, light bat that’s soft to touch and encased in organic cotton sateen.
Smooth to touch. Deep to sleep. Even for babies.
Yes. Better sleep.
According to the Handbook of Natural Fibres, Volume 1 by Ryszard M. Kozlowski, studies show that “...when sleeping under a wool quilt, the heart rate will be statistically lower for the whole sleep period, providing a more rested condition.” (page 192).
We also found that two scientific studies (one from the Polytechnic Institute of Wales, and another from the Hohenstein Institute in Germany) actually do back up the claim about better sleep under wool. More on that right here- see "Is it true that wool comforters lower your heart rate while you sleep.
Really? Better quality of sleep all because of the wool batting?
Dry, safe & warm
You’ve probably heard us say it before, but these few benefits still bear repeating.
- Naturally flame resistant and doesn’t melt or drip. In fact, per the Kozlowski source mentioned above, wool actually “emits less smoke and toxic gases than any other commonly used fibre.”
- Dust mite and mildew resistant. This is due to the wicking away & temperature control elements) Dust mites and mildew need moisture to thrive and spread and wool is a drying fiber.) Excellent for those loved one’s who suffer allergies or asthma.
Add wool over time
Adding a natural bedding doesn’t have to blast your budget. Just incorporate a piece or two at a time until you’re satisfied with your set up.
- Maybe you’ll start by replacing a couple of pillows.
- Or perhaps you’ve got someone with severe arthritis or who is suffering from fibromyalgia?
Consider a woolen fleece to gently hold those joints and cushion painful pressure points.
- Add a comfy throw to the bed for on-hand coziness and warmth.
- Gift Tip: Wrap up an identical extra wool blanket and send it home with your guest as a memento of this visit. Cozy memories they can be warmed by ...even when they get back home.
Sleeping at your house, in your natural guest bed may be some of the best sleep they’ll have outside of their own at-home bed.
It’s easier for everyone to enjoy the season, and each other, when all are resting well.
Hi All! Willow here.
Lots is going on with Fall and Back to School, but I’m also feeling reflective - and a bit stunned - that Holy Lamb Organics is turning 15 next year! I don’t think I’ve shared this story with you yet of how this company came to be.
Let’s go back to the year 2000…
It was a brand new century...I was 20. I was just out of college and not sure what I was going to do with my degree. Frankly, I didn’t have much time to figure it out as I was also working three jobs.
A fateful trip to the camping store
One day I was planning a trip with my best friend - a backpacking trip to the Redwoods in Northern California -
I decided to gear up & go get a couple of things...I saw some pillows in the corner of this big camping store...and thought, how luxurious! to bring a pillow on a backpacking trip? Right? So I went over and took a closer look.
And it was….
This little travel pillow had its stitching coming undone, and the synthetic fill was kind of... pouring out of it. I thought to myself, “This pillow kinda sucks even though it’d be really cool to take, this pillow sucks.”
But I bought the sad little shoddy-made pillow anyway. I asked for a discount and knew I could make a better one.
And I knew IMMEDIATELY how I would make it better and what I would use for materials.
“I’d put organic cotton on the outside and I’d use wool on the inside.” Knew it right away. No question.
So, from there I decided I was going to start a business. And I was going to make pillows. Wool on the inside, organic cotton on the outside. From the start. Just as you see it today.
Business plan born while backpacking
So me and my best friend went on the backpacking trip. We hiked into the Redwoods and ended up at the beach. And during that time, there was a lot of time to think, and go inside and get clear.
I dreamed up the business plan on the seven day trip and came back with a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do.
So I got started right away...by buying a school bus
I bought a little... well, big... school bus and started the business in there and ran it from 2000-2005 right in the bus
I started with a basic travel pillow and a backpacking pillow with a stuff sack. I was still so inspired to make something better than what was currently available. Something natural and well-made with quality materials. It still drives me today: to make something better.
So I just started making them. And selling them to our local food co-op, which is a huge part of our community, The Olympia Food Co-op. They were my first customer.
Developing more wool & organic cotton products
So with a base in travel pillows, after awhile, I developed bed pillows...then expanded into comforters, then toppers and then on with our baby products. Later we added organic mattresses so we could provide for all of our customers organic bedding needs.
14 years? How did THAT happen?
And, now, what seems like a flash later, 14 years have gone by and we’re still developing wool and organic cotton products. I’m so proud of my team, our story, our practices and our products. It’s inspiring to still want to make something better. There’s still a fire in me for that. So stay tuned….there’s definitely more to come.
Thanks for reading our story. If you have questions or would like to reply, please share them in the comments section below.
Welcome friends! Look who's blogging now!
With our updated website, we decided we wanted to share more frequently and directly about natural and organic bedding. A blog is our chosen medium.
We've worked hard to make good decisions for the last 14+ years, not only about what we make, but who we work with, how sheep and crops are treated (or not!), and more, to make exceptionally safe, gentle bedding we can all be proud of...and sleep well on!
So, part of the blog will share how we've come to decisions in business, what we do day to day, and we'll answer questions. All in an effort to reach out to you.
We're "Raising the Baaaa"!
There's just so much to share.
You're invited, literally and digitally, to join us here at The Little Bit, our 100+ year old headquarters. We're making traditional, breathable, natural wool and organic cotton bedding that can be recycled back to the earth. And that's just the start.
So, Welcome. We're glad you're here.
Our doors, ears and hearts are open to your feedback about the new site, the blog, specific questions. We'd love to hear from you.
This is where you'll be hearing from us.
Holy Lamb Organics shares about what's behind our choice in using our organic cotton fabric.
We don’t make the cotton, but we use it, which, in turn, supports how it's grown and made.
We choose organic because we support how it's made, and who it's made by. Small eco-minded farmers.
First, a little about conventional cotton
Most conventional cotton seeds are actually GMO seeds. It’s amazing that even the seeds get treated with pesticides or fungicides, before they ever hit the dirt.
Once in the ground, that’s when the real “treatment begins.” Synthetic fertilizers, multiple applications of herbicides: first by treating the soil to inhibit weed germination and then multiple times after to attempt to kill the weeds that DO grow. And they do grow.
Where does it all go?
The thing is, the soil is where the nutrients are. Minerals and rich soil content that will grow the cotton that will ultimately be really close to our skin...we wear it, use it and sleep on it ...in some way...daily.
Uh. We haven’t even gotten to pesticides or the insecticides yet (those ARE two different products). To review:
Herbicides are for the weeds…
Pesticides are for pests…
Insecticides are for the insects - both the harmful and the beneficial ones.
Again, spraying, oftentimes from the air, and then again - with some regularity - to address insects and even rodents harmful to the crop.
Little Known Facts
Fact: Conventional cotton crops are the fourth most heavily sprayed crops, behind soybean, corn and wheat.
Fact: Each set of Queen size conventional cotton sheets takes just about 1.25 lbs of pesticide, herbicide and insecticide to create.
Not many people know even this much about the conventional crop of cotton. Believe us, we haven't even scratched the surface of information here yet.
One more concept before we go
Let’s’ just touch a theory that “there is no they”...
There is no “throwing away” because there is no “away”.
When we spray from an airplane, drip poison into the soil, and even chemically harvest (oh yes) the cotton from the plant, WHO are we spraying, dripping and chemically imbuing? Ourselves.
We are “they.”