Thursday, March 29, 2012

Count Down to Earth Day

Leaping Sheep is in full spring
Earth Day is April 22, 2012.
What can we do differently this year?

Admire Mother Nature's beauty and use her renewable resources.

Be brave.  Get our hands dirty.  Be a hero.

Till a plot of soil and encourage young ones to plant seeds.

Let a kitty be a lion.

How will you celebrate our Earth?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wrinkle Free Wool

Sure, you know Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls help with the longevity and use of your fabrics in the dryer but what if I mention the word wrinkles.  It's like a curse word.  That is...if it's used regarding the crows feet and laugh lines pegging your age.  Wrinkles are a much lighter subject when talking about wool .  Wool can smile like the Grinch one moment and be as smooth as jazz the next.  A miracle?  Yes, if it's put in a bottle and marketed as an anti aging cream.  No, if it's a wool sweater found weeks after falling from a shelf in the closet.   

Wool is naturally elastic.  It's not gonna smack you in the chest like a pair of Uncle Fred's suspender's when he's gloating about his appetite.  Wool is much more gentle and subtle than that.  Thank goodness.  Each wool fibre is made up of millions of coiled springs that stretch and give.  When dry it can be extended by up to 30% it's original size.  When wet it can be stretched 60% to 70% it's original size.  But it's not ruined.  It always coils back to it's original shape.  Kind of like Shirley Temple's little curls.

A very popular fabric used today is cotton.  But did you know it is extremely fragile?  Cotton is held together by a hydrogen bond.  When worn these bonds are stretched and broken when you move.  Once the original bonds are broken new bonds form, nearly never in the original place.  And water (sweat) can actually penetrate the area between the molecules in the bond, the bond dissolves and a new bond forms.  As the fabric dries the new bonds, or wrinkles, get LOCKED into place! 

Let's look at a few clothing scenarios.

Scenario 1:

You're late for work and you're bloated.  It could be from stress in your personal life.  Or maybe you're lactose intolerant and threw caution to the wind while you threw back a milkshake.  Regardless your stomach looks like you're in your second trimester and you really don't want anybody asking if you're pregnant.  Not today.  

You tear through your closet like the Tasmanian Devil, "I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!" 
But what's this?  You see a skirt hanging at the very end of the rod.  You haven't worn it in months but you remember it being snug yet forgiving.  You throw it on, run out the door and go about your day. 

By the time lunch rolls around you've forgotten all about feeling bloated.  In fact you feel so great you eat your salad with gusto.  And when you check yourself out in the bathroom mirror you don't spend ten minutes adjusting your outfit to get through the second half of the day.  On top of that, the critical coworker steps out of the stall behind you and says, "Great skirt.  Is that wool?"  You just smile and nod because to be honest you're not sure and you refuse to put your foot in your mouth. 

As soon as she leaves you race into a stall, slam the door shut, spin your skirt around and reveal the tag.  100% wool.  You suddenly remember getting this as a hand me down from Grandma.  Now you're really confused.  It looks brand new.  And despite sitting at a desk for hours there's not a single wrinkle in it.  You spend the rest of the day distracted wondering what the rest of your clothes are made of.   

Scenario 2:

You're late for work but you don't care.  You feel great and nothing is going to ruin your mood.  You throw on your trusty collared t-shirt and cotton pants because spring has sprung early and you want to be cool and comfortable today. 

By the time lunch rolls around you've adjusted your outfit at least a hundred times.  For each minute spent at your desk there's a wrinkle in your pants to represent it.  And the backside is so loose you feel like MC Hammer.  You're feeling frumpy and pretend you didn't pack a healthy lunch.  An order of the freshest deep fried combo pack, super sized, goes down the hatch.
You go back to work and convince yourself you're PMS'ing.  Great, the critical coworker just walked past donning a sympathetic smile while you're inhaling a king sized chocolate bar for dessert.  It's a curl up on the couch with sappy movie kind of night tonight.   

That little tidbit may not be too far from a day in your own life.  Clothing can make or break your mood and productivity.  You might be thinking that you can't wear a heavy wool sweater, skirt or suit everyday.  Nobody said you have to.  Thanks to knitwear designers and wool technologists there is an endless number of combinations of weave, knits and textures, from sheer lacy knits to bulky tweeds and heavy overcoating to choose from. They're made from a wide range of wool types varying from extra-fine for the suits and knitwear to broad fibres for home furnishings.  Whatever the choice they all resist wrinkles and last beautifully for years. If you do find that your wool garment needs ironed check the manufacturers directions and never use a dry iron as it will scorch the wool easily.       

Oh, and don't ever wash your wool in the washer and throw it in the dryer, it will felt the wool. You will then be using that skirt as a dryer ball. 



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring into Friendship

Some of the happiest memories of my life were when I shared time with friends. I'm not only talking about my adult life. I'm reflecting from my first memories to present day. Unfortunately the older I get and the more responsibilities I take on (whether voluntary or involuntary) the less importance I place on meaningful friendships. With spring in the air, and renewal the theme of the day, the health benefits of a good friendship deserves a spotlight.

Age Happily
People who socialize and VISIT with friends and family during the WEEK are happier as they age. Yes, it is nice to wait until the weekend when the house is caught up and you're off the clock to check in on friends, but a few laughs and a sincere heart to heart could really pull you out of a mid week slump.

Drop a Dress Size
Spending time alone or immersed in responsibilities doesn't always equal fitness success. But a little bit of encouragement from a friend can help keep your willpower at full throttle. Share a walk at a local park. It's impact free and burns calories!

Share a Smile
If your friends are happy, you're going to be as well. But it doesn't stop there! That happiness actually spreads outside of the social group and to each persons personal contacts. Beware of permi-grin if you have a happy go lucky friend less than a mile away.

Use Your Talents
The world would be an intolerably boring place if we were all good at the same things. Find your natural talent and build a social circle around it. If you think you don't have a natural talent then stop the soul searching and scratch the surface. Chances are you use your natural talent on a daily basis even if it's just something you like to think about.  One of my natural talents is spinning yarn and making wool balls.  I have many spinning friends that "get" me.

Ups and Downs
Every once in a while we need a shoulder to cry on. And unfortunately those moments aren't predictable and come without warning. A good friend, and I mean a GOOD friend, will go scoop for scoop with you on a gallon of ice cream. But rough times aren't always solved at the bottom of the carton. We may need help with funeral arrangements, paying bills and hospital trips. A friend can make the intolerable tolerable.

So share a smile and enjoy the day. Somewhere out there true friendship awaits.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Prevent Toxic Shock Syndrome with Cloth Pads

It's that time of the month again, ladies. Just when you thought life couldn't get much sweeter, your menstrual cycle has started. Yippee and ya. Now that you're done celebrating your womanhood, un wrap a tampon and clean up your mess on isle female. But first let's talk Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is caused by the build up of Staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus bacteria. This build up is caused by tampon usage, especially super absorbent types, and sometimes contraceptive sponges. Symptoms appear suddenly. They include a sudden high fever, a faint feeling, watery diarrhea, headache, and muscle aches. The disease can progress rapidly, sometimes resulting in death. An estimated 3 to 4 out of 100,000 tampon-using females per year are effected by TSS. Tampons are used by over 73,000,000 women in the United States today. The average female may use as many as 16,800 tampons in her lifetime.

The chemicals used in sanitary pads, tampons and diapers have raised concerns for years. Dioxin is a byproduct of chlorine-bleaching processes used in the manufacture of paper products. The effects of dioxin are cumulative and may stay in the body for 20 years after exposure. Dioxin is listed as one of the "dirty dozen - a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants" by The World Health Organization. Dioxin is a known human carcinogen. It can also cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system and interfere with hormones.

Other banned toxic substances found in bleached paper products, including sanitary pads, diapers and tampons are: furan, octachlorinated dioxin (OCDD), hexachlorodibenzofuran (HxCDF) and octa-chlorodibenzofuran (OCDF). These are all banned toxic substances. If that's not enough, tampons commonly include one or more of the following additives: Chlorine compounds, absorbency enhancers (such as surfactants like polysorbate-20), chemically treated natural and synthetic fibers (such as cotton, rayon, polyester, and polyacrylate), deodorant, and fragrance. Poor
Kitty! What are we doing to you?

Let's look at a solution to this problem. You've all heard about cloth diapers. If you don't have a baby it doesn't pertain to you. Have you heard of cloth menstrual pads? They're out there and they are wonderful! If you no longer receive that monthly visit from Aunt Flow you may have the occasional bladder mishap with a strong sneeze, an unexpected laugh, or a strong bump in the road on the way to work. A lot of women have bladder control problems, also called incontinence, after giving birth and for many years since. Whatever the need may be there is a natural cloth personal hygiene pad for it.

The cloth pads can be made from a variety of natural fibers including hemp, cotton and flax. Depending on the manufacturers laundering instructions they can be washed and dried. When they are dried using Leaping Sheep wool dryer balls will work in your favor. Since wool dryer balls don't put an oily coating on fabrics like dryer sheets do the cloth menstrual pad will retain its absorbency. That is an absolute must!

Time to play with the kids

"I don't remember my mother ever playing with me. And she was a perfectly good mother. But she had to do the laundry and clean the house and do the grocery shopping."

I don't think my laundry is anything remarkable. Sometimes the amount I have to do makes me wish we didn't live in such an appearance based society, but that's life. We expect the person in line behind us at the grocery store to be free of offensive odors and rotting food stains. I'll do my part. I'll wash my laundry. Now, do I separate, do I risk colors bleeding, do I just say, "Heck with it," and toss everything in together? The saying, "It'll all come out in the wash," doesn't neccessarily apply to real laundry, does it? Laundry takes planning. But once you've done all the preparations and the wash cycle is done you're in the home stretch.
This is where things get tricky. Dryer sheets are off limits. Excuse me a second and let me refer to them as toxic sheets, so we can replace that soft Snuggle Bear image in our head with a skull and cross bones. If you suffer from allergies, headaches, dizziness, anxiety, or a number of more serious conditions, toxic sheets may be to blame, so lets skip this step. That's the tricky part, breaking a routine habit. Other than that, throw those wet clothes in the dryer on top of a half dozen Leaping Sheep wool dryer balls, shut the door, and start the cycle (a bit less time of course since the dryer balls absorb some of the moisture). Giving you more time and peace of mind to play with your kids.
From the Earth * To the Earth

Well done sheep, well done

Well done sheep, well done

The dryer door is flung open. Freshly spun laundry is pulled from the washer and stuffed into an inevitable inferno. A dainty web of polyester fibers is plucked from it’s box with the very tips of her fingers. It’s smell is chemically designed to be pleasant. In it’s unused state it is offensive and overpowering.
With her nose angled away from the dryer sheet she releases it onto her families laundry. The door is shut and the 70 minute heat cycle begins to bellow in. A liquid surfactant, which may be quaternary ammonium compounds, sulfate compounds, or silicone derivatives, leaves the surface of the fabric just slightly oily. Once the cooled and folded clothing is lovingly placed in it’s respective homes the liquid surfactant has formed a solid coating on the fabric. That sweet smelling, wrinkle free t-shirt is a carrier of chemicals ready to seep into your pores.

Wool is part of the natural lifecycle of sheep. They grow wool continuously. If they are not sheared at least once a year, they become stressed and uncomfortable, especially when it is hot and humid. So what do we make of an endless natural resource in a society stressed for time with a conscience for going green?

The dryer door is flung open. Freshly spun clothing is pulled from the washer and stuffed into an inevitable inferno. They land on a half dozen natural, wool dryer balls. The door is shut and the heat cycle begins. The wool dryer balls bounce around with the laundry in the dryer, separating the clothes and allowing air to circulate and soften them. They cut the drying time by 25% or more by absorbing up to 30% of their weight in water.
The fresh, chemical free laundry is removed and the wool dryer balls are left behind in the dryer for the next cycle. Time, money, energy, and health have been saved. Well done, sheep. Well done.

Who is Leaping Sheep?

Leaping Sheep is a family owned company whose mission is to make the world a greener place, one ball at a time. Fiber has been a big part of our life from raising alpacas, processing fibers and hand spinning yarn. Upon researching the wonderful properties of wool the dryer ball evolved. We manufacture white, solid colors and designed balls. All the wool used to produce Leaping Sheep wool dryer balls is imported from New Zealand. New Zealand is the world’s largest producer and exporter of crossbred wool and enjoys a reputation for producing some of the finest quality wool in the world.

Our dryer balls boast the reputation of being 100% natural, solid wool to the core of felted wool. No Chemicals are used in the processing of our fine dyer balls. They are all handmade and have the wonderful characteristics of a handmade product. All the dyes in the colored dryer balls are Azo-free and low impact. The key benefit of azo-free dyes is the removal of the metallic component, and carcinogens which can create a textile-induced chemical sensitivity, or worse.

The other beauty of wool is its non allergenic qualities and it does not promote the growth of bacteria and dust mites or give off harmful emissions, like the plastic dryer balls do. Wool fibers absorb and neutralizes polluting gasses, even formaldehyde, which is in many of the clothes you buy from the store.
We want to do our part to keep your family healthy for many years. Join us in the journey to make mother earth happy and healthy again, it’s the only home we have.