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 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 that 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 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 it’s cold it 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 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 whereas 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.

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 breathe (transfer) both moisture and heat from the body or retain that heat thereby regulating body temperature rather than merely acting as an insulator. It's also warmer than a polyester of equivalent tog rating. and also, cooler.

How are Baavets rated for warmth?

Wool has a different thermal heat transferable quality than other duvets therefore it 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 heavy to be warm. This is not the case with wool if it's 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 and 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 sq. metre different to the weight shown on the label. But we are honest enough to tell you that! We check the weight of each Baavet and work within a 50-gram tolerance.

So can you use any old wool in a duvet?

To be honest, yes you can, even wool combined with polymers or chlorinated wool but there are certain wools which are much better than others.

There are two 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. It's 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 a long 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.

It's 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 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, we are the only company to have done this right from the start.

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, Lithuania, and of course China.

We are one of a handful of companies in the UK who truly make a 100% British wool duvet, taking the wool from Ewe to You.

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.

Should I use a duvet cover?

We do recommend that you use a conventional duvet cover with your Baavet. This will help to keep the cotton clean and reduce the need for laundering.Your Baavet will work best if paired with a natural fibre cover such as linen or cotton.

Is my Baavet machine washable?

Our care instructions tell you to handwash or dry clean 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, 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 drawer, 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. Drain, then refill with water and leave to soak again for half an hour. Remove from the machine and hang to dry away from direct heat. You can also use this method in a tub or bath.

Wool is an extremely clean organic fabric; you only need 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. It’s 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.

Does the duvet smell of sheep?

The wool in our duvets is washed twice. This helps to remove vegetation that gets stuck on the fleece, it also removes most of the lanolin (natural oils) in the wool.

A small amount of lanolin remains in the wool, and this has a slightly sheepy smell which will disappear after the duvet has been aired for a day or two. The majority of people will not notice the lanolin odour, however if you have sensitive sense of smell, you may find the duvet needs to be aired for longer.

Will the wool move around and felt or clump?

Not if it's 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?

No. 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 many countries 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?

Firstly 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 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.

Can you return your Baavet if you aren't happy?

Some companies have a 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 lifetime.