Archive for September, 2012

How to protect your wool and silk from clothes moths

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

When you put your lovely wool and silk things away over Summer, you want to be sure that in the Autumn they're still looking and feeling soft and beautiful.

The main worry when storing wool clothes is...  Tineola Bisselliella, the clothes moth.  The common clothes moth, or wool moth, is on the increase in Britain and if you've found small holes in your woollen clothes, it's the likely culprit.

 

Wool moth larvae are hungry for your wool and will also enjoy silk, leather, cashmere, alpaca and any other natural fibre - sometimes even cotton.  Their favourite is grubby, sweaty, smelly natural fibres - these are like cake crumbs to an ant, or tasty cheddar to a mouse - irresistable!

So here are our top 5 natural tips for keeping the clothes moth at bay.  If you're reasonably organised, we guarantee these will work!  But if housekeeping is not your thing, scroll to the end...

Tip 1 - Expose your wool clothes to light

This is so simple, and really works!  Unlike most moths, clothes moths don't like light or fresh air.  So, shake out those jumpers, beat your carpets outside, hang out your wool blankets in the sun and brush them.

Hang your wool clothes in the sun

It's a fact that the clothes moth larvae will wriggle away from the sun - and if they can't escape, the larvae will drop off your clothes.  Marvellous.  And if you brush your clothing too, you brush off or damage the eggs and break the cycle again.

 

The life cycle of clothes moths is about 3 weeks, so I try and hang out our wool blankets and sheepskins every few weeks on the line.  This also refreshes them, and seems to keep them lovely and soft too.

Tip 2 - Hoover them up

Clothes moths are on the increase.  One reason that's been given is that, as a nation, our home cleaning habits leave a little to be desired.  Hoovering and cleaning just what you can see leaves nooks and crannies for moths to breed in - the corners of the cupboards, around the skirting boards, in the carpet under the chair...

Clothes moths like to be undisturbed to breed.  We need to disturb them!  So turn out your clothes drawers and cupboards, and hoover inside them, move chairs and chests of drawers and hoover under them.  And then throw away the hoover bag!

Tip 3 - Lavender and cedar balls

Bags of lavender and cedar balls are the most natural moth repellents.  On the plus side, they are non-toxic and easy to get hold of.  Cedar oil will kill young larvae (though not eggs, older larvae or moths) and lavender acts as a repellent.  The downside is that the lavender will need replacing - it needs to be fresh to be effective, and the same for the cedar balls too.

Clothes moths don't like cedar balls

You can use lavender oil as well as lavender flowers, and you can replenish the cedar oil from your cedar balls or blocks directly.  As cedar oil needs to be in sufficient concentrations to protect your woollens, ideally you need to keep susceptible  clothing in sealed chests or tubs to allow the concentrations to build up.

We've found pheromone moth traps work really well too.  They're impregnated with the female moth pheromone which entices the male moth, which then gets stuck in the gluey sticky trap.  They're pretty good for keeping numbers low, but won't eradicate an infestation.

Pheromone Clothes Moth Trap

Tip 4 - Store your woollens clean

I used to wait until I had "enough" wool clothing that needed washing to make up a wool wash.  Now I don't, because wool moths love undisturbed, grubby wool.   Your wool washing basket is their perfect home.

So, wash your wool, silk, cashmere, alpaca and all your finest fibres fairly soon after they go in the washing basket and the moths will be kept at bay.

If you can, dry in sunlight.

Always store your wool clothes over the Summer just after washing so that they're nice and clean.   Dry cleaning is very effective too, though very often not an eco-friendly option.

Tip 5 - Freeze the clothes moth out!

Sealing and freezing is our top tip for long-term storage.  Many of our customers recommend vacuum bags: launder your clothes first, bag them with lavender or cedar, and seal the bags for safe long-term storage.

"I wash our woolens and then store them clean in the freezer. They are such treasures, I don't mind sacrificing the space." - Alison

"And if you freeze them in ziplocks, then you can take them out and store them anywhere, bug-free!" - Jennifer

How long should you freeze them for?  Most sites say 3 days, some are more cautious and go for two weeks.  After this you can free up your freezer space again, knowing you'll have happy healthy woollens come the Autumn. Otherwise four days in the freezer is enough to kill any larvae that are left, guaranteeing you hole-free beauty come the Autumn.

Freezing is a safe, effective natural option to remove clothes moths.

Summary - to protect your wool from clothes moths, remember

  • Sun and air
  • Hoover and clean
  • Store with lavender and cedar
  • Use pheromone moth traps
  • Seal and freeze!

And if you're not so organised...

I'd still recommend moth traps (they last for months, which even I can manage to cope with) and I'd also recommend not waiting to wash your woollens.  A couple of jumpers and a pair of socks is a good wool wash!

But if you're not a natural 1950s home-maker, let's face it, however much you love gorgeous natural fabrics you probably won't replenish the lavender, and vacuum bags just drive you mad.  Airing jumpers every three weeks or hanging out wool blankets is just not going to happen - and as for hoovering cupboards... honestly!  What an idea.

Moth balls are not a solution - they're often very toxic, generally smelly and their vapours can be carcinogenic.  Nice.  And chucking a few cedar balls in just isn't going to work.

Luckily there is a solution, though not a natural one.  Look into chemical paper strips - these are impregnated with modern chemical moth killers that are nowhere near as unpleasant as old-fashioned ones, and will kill off the larvae too.  You can even layer them touching your clothes, though you might prefer to protect your clothing from direct contact with paper.

And though this is not a natural solution, it's still better for you and for the environment to make your good quality clothing last!

Why I Buy Organic & Competition

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
I live in lovely village called Horningsea and one of my greatest pleasures is cycling to work. I was zooming along thinking how lucky I was on this bright blue September day... when suddenly I saw a tractor spraying and I felt sick. The dark side of agriculture was brought home. You'll find a personal post from me below, but to celebrate Organic September we're running an organic competition! We have 8 pairs of Demeter-quality organic cotton socks to win!  To enter, tell us, why do you buy organic?  Comment below - each comment will count as an entry.  Plus, if you share this link anywhere online, we'll give you not one but two bonus entries - simply comment and tell us where you've shared - twitter, facebook, forums, all are good for us!

Organic Cotton Socks for Children

Why I feel lucky I hope you're entered the competition and are feeling lucky.  After passing the spraying tractor, a moments reflection and I felt lucky too. I was briefly exposed to a bit of herbicide. Nothing in comparison to what a conventional cotton farmer has to deal with daily. Many chemicals used in cotton farming are acutely toxic. Some are so dangerous that 120 countries agreed at a UNEP conference in 2001 to ban them - unfortunately many are still being used. The World Trade Organisation estimates 20,000 deaths and three million chronic health problems annually are the result of the use of agricultural pesticides in developing countries. I feel very lucky to live in Britain, where we are at the forefront of change, even if it is slow.

Wearing organic cotton

Choosing organic cotton All our cotton at Cambridge Baby and Good Natured Clothing is organic and we wouldn't have it any other way.  (You can view some lovely organic cotton children's clothing here.) A whopping eight times more pesticide is used on one hectare of conventional cotton than on other crops. These chemicals are incredibly expensive for small holder farmers. In some Indian states, chemicals account for 60% of farmers' budgets.  Over a 1000 suicides in one state alone been attributed to debt. And of course, intensive pesticide use reduces biodiversity, damages ecosystems, and contaminates water supplies. Because pests build up a resistance to pesticides every year, farmers have to use more pesticides to grow the same amount of cotton - increasing the annual damage to the environment. The small extra we pay for quality organic cotton means that farmers receive a premium for organic cotton enabling them to live a healthier more sustainable lifestyle. All our organic cotton is also produced with social sustainability criteria in mind - fair trade principles are embedded in the organic certifications we use, even if the cotton is not Fair Trade certified. How organic cotton farming helps Organic cotton farming is kinder to the environment and helps farmers make a sustainable living. Organic cotton farmers use natural pesticides to keep pests off the crops, without eliminating their natural predators. Intercropping with sunflowers and millet help mask the smell of cotton from weevils that love it. So cotton can be successfully grown without pesticides by enrolling the help of insects and fungi that attack the cotton pests as our many organic cotton farmers demonstrate. Once chemical pesticides are no longer used the presence of beneficial insects increases dramatically while artificial traps, trap crops and host crops can also help to control the pests. The need for chemical fertilizers can be eliminated by utilising organic manures, rotating crops, intercropping, and drip irrigation. Water in organic cotton growing Water use is another concern, even with organic cotton production methods.  Conventional methods of cotton production are literally responsible for creating deserts. Bishopton Trading's organic cotton, however, which we are proud to stock, is predominantly rain-fed.  And soils fertilised with natural manures have a higher hummus content and are better able to retain water. Most fabric used for clothing has many chemicals added to it to enhance the feel and colour and to reduce creasing - our organic cotton clothing doesn't.  One of the few additions is the dye - and this has to be accepted by organic accreditation bodies.  Bishopston Trading, for example, alongside many of the brands we stock, use GOTS accredited (Global Organic Textile Standard) non-azo reactive dyes to stand up to machine washing.  The only treatment to their organic cotton yarn is a rice water starch applied to the warp threads to enable the weavers to span the looms - this quickly washes out. And, Bishopston Trading say that their white cloth is bleached without the use of chlorine - so you can be safe and comfortable on your organic bed linen with a clean conscience. Good to be a part of change I feel lucky - I'm in a position to be able to choose change. Working for Cambridge Baby, who sell only organic cotton, makes me really happy. Being able to choose to buy organic makes me feel good because I know I'm contributing to creating a world that I'd like to live in. Wheat fields filled with poppies and butterflies, rather than wheat deserts, healthy organic cotton farmers and families around the world. We'd like to know what you think too.

Meet Wendy from the Cambridge Baby Team

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Wendy's In the Pink!

Wendy's favourite mornings at Cambridge Baby is when she's picking and packing pink clothes! Her love of pink is clear to see as she turns up for her Cambridge Baby mornings on her bike with pink coat and helmet, ready for action!

Her love of colour ties in with her own natural well-being business which she's enjoying growing - take a look at her website, WhatYouReallyReallyWant.co.uk.

Wendy is a joy to have on the team, being very good natured and positive.  As well as preparing orders she delights in keeping the boxes of Cambridge Baby clothes clearly labelled, for quick and accurate picking. When the need arises she is also on hand to answer phone queries, answer e-mails,  process returns, and unpack incoming deliveries.

Music to Your Ears

She sometimes entertains the rest of the Cambridge Baby team with whistling renditions of the latest orchestra pieces she is rehearsing. She plays the cello in the Cambridge Graduate Orchestra, who give concerts four times a year at the renowned West Road Concert Hall. A few weeks ago they performed The Planets by Holst to a sold out audience as part of the Cambridge Science Festival.

Another highlight of her week is running a local Brownie Pack for girls aged 7-10 years. The girls love the games, action songs, and all the new skills and crafts they do. A few weeks ago they made some great owls out of fir cones that made it to the Cambridge Baby desk to be admired!

If you're local to Cambridge and your girl would like to join Brownies, phone Wendy on 01223 515470.

Her Other Side

When she’s not at Cambridge Baby she’s helping people who are overwhelmed by stress, depression, or fatigue, with the natural wellbeing business she is growing.  Her clients are often extremely grateful for the support she offers, which can  include herbal supplement recomendations, dietary recommendations, and chakra and meridian balancing treatments.

She also loves helping people become truly alive using a fabulous colour system that combines the energies of colour, plant extracts and crystals. If your looking for something to quench your spiritual thirst then this could be for you. Help more of your 'true colours' shine through with solution treatments.

To find out more visit WhatYouReallyReallyWant.co.uk - it's Wendy's website, and you'll see it's a little pink.

We love Autumn!

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

This morning was a beautiful crisp blue morning and the hedgerows were full of delicious blackberries. This afternoon we definitely have a taste of an Indian summer. These Blackberry Ice Lollies are perfect for sunny September days like today. 275g of blackberries 375g of Organic Natural Yoghurt 3 tbsp of honey/sugar (optional) 1. Whiz the blackberries in a blender 2. Mix the honey and yoghurt 3. Fold the blackberries and yoghurt together 4. Put into lolly moulds and freeze until solid ( roughly seven hours) Speaking of purple things... For when it gets a wee bit chillier these beautiful hooded wool coats will make all little girls feel like something out of a fairytale.

We’ve been searching for lovely clothes to catch those first falling leaves. My favourite is this soft wool skirt from FUB. My little girl loves to twirl and this skirt twirls!!! Its gorgeously soft and its perfect for playing in the autumn leaves - because its Merino wool you can just brush the dirt off.

Enjoy this magical time of year.