3 days ago

Why Wool is Cool

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

• The fleece of sheep has been used to make human clothing since the Stone Age.
• Wool flourishes where there is rain and sunshine. These two elements sustain the grassy fields that sheep graze on. Shearers shave off the wool every year before the weather gets too hot. Wool is the ultimate … View more
• The fleece of sheep has been used to make human clothing since the Stone Age.
• Wool flourishes where there is rain and sunshine. These two elements sustain the grassy fields that sheep graze on. Shearers shave off the wool every year before the weather gets too hot. Wool is the ultimate renewable fibre.
• Wool from about 61 sheep extend all the way from the earth to the moon.
• Wool may be made from mixtures of hair from sheep, alpaca, llama, camel, cashmere, mohair, angora, vicuna, yak, guanaco, beaver or otter. No animals are harmed in the harvesting of wool.
• Wool is flame-resistant. It will not melt and stick to your skin like synthetic fibres. Instead, wool will usually smoulder and extinguish itself when the source of the flame has been removed. The fibre of choice for casinos and airlines.
• The fastest recorded time to shear a sheep is 39.31 seconds by Hilton Barrett of Australia.
• Wool is composed of same protein that makes up the outer protective layer of your skin.
• Have you ever wondered why your wool socks withstand foot stench longer than cotton or synthetic socks? Wool is naturally mildew and mould resistant because it is a natural moisture repellent, MEANING LESS STINK. Wool also reduces dust mite activity (they do not like wool!).
• Over its lifetime, a sheep’s fleece will absorb approximately 30Kg of carbon dioxide.
• Renewable, recyclable, and naturally biodegradable; choosing wool minimizes the amount of waste that sits in landfills. Wool biodegrades in weeks to less than 1 year depending on environmental conditions. This is due to its high nitrogen content.
• Wool products can last for 15 to 20 years (or more)
• Wool can absorb indoor contaminants, including formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and locks them away in the fibre core. It is naturally soil and stain resistant, attracts less dirt and dust due to anti-static properties and requires less cleaning than synthetic fabrics.
• Wool fibres have a crimped texture so when it’s packed more tightly together lots of tiny pockets of air form. This structure means that it can absorb and release wick away moisture, allowing your skin to breathe so you feel fresh as a daisy.
• Due to its crimped structure, wool is naturally elastic, and so wool garments have the ability to stretch to your shape but can then return to their original state. It is also resistant to tearing and requires less processing to make it useable.
• Wool’s high nitrogen and water content makes it naturally flame resistant. Wool does not ignite easily and will self-extinguish. Should wool burn it does not melt while burning. Wool produces less smoke and toxic fumes during combustion than synthetic fibres, making it a far safer choice.

5 days ago

Key tips for a warmer, drier home – 9/9 – Washing

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Dry your washing outside or in the garage or carport.


Created by New Zealand's Ministry of Health.
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8 days ago

Cat Allergy

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

What is cat allergen?
An allergen is a material that is capable of provoking an allergic reaction, such as pollen grains, dust mites or foods. Cat allergen is not cat hair, but a protein present in the dander and saliva of cats. These allergens become airborne as microscopic particles that can … View more
What is cat allergen?
An allergen is a material that is capable of provoking an allergic reaction, such as pollen grains, dust mites or foods. Cat allergen is not cat hair, but a protein present in the dander and saliva of cats. These allergens become airborne as microscopic particles that can produce allergic symptoms when inhaled into the nose or lungs.

Although individual cats may produce more or less allergen, there is no relationship between the pet’s hair length and allergen production, and no such thing as a non-allergenic breed.

Where is cat allergen found?
Cat allergen is present in the largest amounts in homes with cats, but has also been found in homes where cats have never been present, and in offices or public spaces where animals are not allowed. Cat allergen is particularly sticky and is carried on clothing to other locations. It is almost impossible to not be exposed to some level of cat allergen. Of course, levels of exposure will be much higher where cats are present, and these levels are more likely to cause allergic symptoms.

Because cat allergen particles are particularly small (1/10 the size of dust mite allergen), they remain airborne for prolonged periods of time. Cat allergic individuals are more likely to have a rapid onset of symptoms when entering a room with cats, because the allergen will be in the air and can be easily inhaled. Opening windows, using exhaust fans and using high-efficiency air cleaners can decrease airborne allergen levels.

Soft furnishings, such as carpets, sofas, and mattresses, will hold cat allergen even after a cat is removed from the home or banished from the bedroom. It has been shown that it can take as long as 20 weeks for levels of allergen in carpets to decrease to the levels found in a home without a cat, and up to five years for cat allergen levels in mattresses to decrease to such levels. Removal or treatment of the carpet and sofa, and encasing of the mattress, will reduce the continued exposure to these reservoirs of allergen.

Cat allergen is also found on vertical surfaces such as walls. Attempts to decrease cat allergen exposure in a home should include wall cleaning. If the cat is removed to a restricted area of the home, it is important to realise that airflow through the duct system in a hot air heated home could spread the allergen. Efficient vent and furnace filters could help trap the allergens and reduce this spread.

Step 1: Use Allergen Wash. To get all the cat saliva and dander off your clothing and bedding, use a special detergent that removes all allergens. Use the warmest water setting possible for the fabrics to get all of the saliva and dander out.

Step 2: Use a vacuum with a high efficiency air filter. These filters remove more allergens from the carpeting and upholstery than regular vacuums. Vacuum all the floors and furniture thoroughly to get everything out. Wait several hours after the first vacuuming and go over everything again. This allows the dust you stir up the first time to settle, and you get the remnants of that dust on the second vacuuming. Make sure to empty the vacuum or change the bag outside to prevent everything you vacuumed from coming back in.

Step 3: Steam clean. After vacuuming everything completely, go over the whole area with a steam cleaner. The steam cleaner gets more of the allergens out of the carpet than the vacuum, picking up the cat saliva and dander deeper in the fibres.

Step 4: Take it to the cleaners. Take things you can't wash, such as curtains, to the cleaners. Cleaning will remove the cat saliva and dander from the fabrics. Curtain Clean has a special product used to remove cat allergen. You should advise your curtain or dry cleaners of your allergy so they may apply the correct product.

Step 5: Keep the cats off your fabrics. As soon as the cats get close to any of the fabrics, the dander and saliva will return. Studies have demonstrated that washing of cats with water removes much of their surface allergen, and significantly reduces the amount of future cat allergen produced.

10 days ago

Key tips for a warmer, drier home – 8/9 – Mould

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Key tips for a warmer, drier home, Mould, 8 of 9, 2015.

Use bleach or white vinegar to remove mould from ceilings and walls.


Created by New Zealand's Ministry of Health.
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13 days ago

Natural Animal-Based Textile Fibres

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Animal-based fibres are wool, fur, and excretions, such as silk.

Alpaca: Alpaca is a very exclusive fibre, hollow in part of its structure, and it comes naturally in twenty-three different colours. It is extremely lightweight, has great insulation properties and is stronger than sheep’s wool. … View more
Animal-based fibres are wool, fur, and excretions, such as silk.

Alpaca: Alpaca is a very exclusive fibre, hollow in part of its structure, and it comes naturally in twenty-three different colours. It is extremely lightweight, has great insulation properties and is stronger than sheep’s wool. Alpaca is mixed with other natural fibres such as mohair, silk, or wool to make luxurious garments of the highest quality, both in knitted and flat fabrics.
Alpaca fibres of higher quality coming from the shearing of pups and younger specimens are considered smoother, softer, and warmer than cashmere. It is currently being used to manufacture sportswear. The leading brands in sports have been seduced by this fibre due to its insulation qualities in cold weather.

Angora: Angora is a natural animal-based fibre that comes from the Angora rabbit. It is silky, thin, and soft. This “ultra-silky” white hair from the Angora rabbit is a hollow fibre classified as wool. The hair is light, with great water absorption and quick dry.
Extremely light but very warm, angora is used mainly to make woven clothes such as pullovers, vests, sweaters, and fashion accessories for winter season. Flat fabrics with angora are used to manufacture thermal garments. Angora is mixed with wool to create greater density and elasticity in the fabric, especially for the production of suits and blazers. It also used to make high-quality and luxurious garments.

Cashmere: Cashmere comes from the Kashmir goat, a native of the Himalayas.
Cashmere is a very expensive and exclusive fibre. It is extremely soft and has great thermal properties; cashmere is used to manufacture high-quality sweaters and children’s warm clothes. The well-known “pashmina” is a type of cashmere used in shawls and scarves, produced in the Kashmir Valley. More robust cashmere is employed to manufacture high-quality rugs and carpets.

Sheep wool: A limited supply and its exceptional qualities have made wool the most widely used animal-based textile fibre in the fashion and textile industry.
Wool is a fibre with curly appearance, elastic, soft to the touch, which easily absorbs moisture and has an extremely low rate of heat release. These last few characteristics make woollen garments comfortable and warm.
Wool is a fibre of multiple functions and a wide range of diameters that make it perfect for manufacturing clothing items and fashionable accessories. It is mixed with other natural and synthetic fibres to increase strength. Wool is also used in household textile products as well as in industrial developments such as thermal and acoustic insulation.

Mohair: Mohair is the hair of the Angora goat from the Tibet. It is a very shiny, insulating type of wool, softer and stronger than sheep wool. Mohair is white and dyes with exceptional ease. It has excellent absorption capacity and is mainly used to make knitted garments and crochet accessories. Mohair is also utilized in household textiles to make luxurious beddings and upholstery.

Camel hair: Obtained from Bactrian camels with two humps, it is a fine, soft fibre that is used exclusively in luxurious textiles due to its quality and small supply. To manufacture ultra-exclusive items, camel hair is mixed with cashmere and, in other cases, due to its high cost, it is combined with wool to reduce the final price tag of the garment.
This fibre is employed to manufacture a wide variety of clothing items –suits, coats, sweaters, and jackets—and other accessories for winter season such as gloves, hats, and scarves.

Silk: In many people’s eyes, silk is still “the queen of fabrics”.
Silk is a protein filament produced by the silkworm. Feeding on mulberry leaves, the worm produces liquid silk that once solidified forms the filaments to build its cocoon. Then, once the larva is dead, heat is used to soften the hardened filaments and to unroll them. These individual filaments are later intertwined into one single filament to form the silk yarn.
Silk is a lightweight, lustrous, and soft fibre. It is highly resistant to tensile strength with little or no elasticity. Silk is very glossy because of the triangular prism structure of the fibre and this causes garments made of this fabric to refract incoming light into different angles.
Naturally, silk is used in high-quality textile industry to produce exquisite accessories as well as luxurious, haute couture garments. Additionally, it is utilized in a wide range of home décor items.

16 days ago

Unravelling textile testing - Colourfastness

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Unravelling textile testing - Colourfastness
Colourfastness is one of four key topics (others include Abrasion Resistance, Pilling, Seam Slippage) that we are covering to provide some background as to how we test and why.

Test results provide us with critical information about textile’s … View more
Unravelling textile testing - Colourfastness
Colourfastness is one of four key topics (others include Abrasion Resistance, Pilling, Seam Slippage) that we are covering to provide some background as to how we test and why.

Test results provide us with critical information about textile’s durability and suitability for certain applications. We externally test all James Dunlop and Mokum textiles in Melbourne at a highly reputable laboratory who are amongst the most conservative and stringent in the world, due to the extremely harsh environmental conditions we face here in Australia and New Zealand.


We have gathered a number of frequently asked questions relating to colourfastness so we asked our Mokum studio designers Stephanie Moffitt and Annie Moir to share their expert knowledge.

One of the most important textile tests is that of colourfastness.

Simply put, a colourfastness test measures how well a textile will resist or withstand fading. Fading typically means a change in colour which may be a change in hue, depth or brightness of colour. We perform a range of different colourfastness tests when developing a new textile, we test its resistance to fading against UV light, as well as washing / dry cleaning and also rubbing.

Can you briefly outline the colourfastness to washing/ laundering test?
Colourfastness to washing and/or dry cleaning measures a fabrics ability to withstand fading or colour loss from laundering. The test replicates specific cleaning methods then measures any colour loss against a set of five grey scales, creating a result (1 being least colourfast and 5 being most colourfast). In this instance, a result of 4-5 is the result we strive for.

One question pops up a lot, if a product is machine washable can it be spot cleaned?

We would always approach spot cleaning with water or a cleaning product with caution. Most of our washable textiles are rating as delicate or gentle washing which means a delicate setting and we would prefer a delicate washing liquid. Whereas spot clean tends to be more localised and more aggressive. If spot clean is needed always first try a dry white clean cloth, to reduce any colour loss as this often can remove a stain.

Can you briefly outline the colourfastness to rubbing test?

Colourfastness to rubbing, or commonly known as ‘crocking’ measures fabric resistance to colour loss when subjected to rubbing or friction from another fabric. This is particularly relevant for upholstery textiles – you can imagine wearing white pants and sitting on a dark coloured sofa, you’d want to be confident that when you stand up your pants haven’t changed colour.

With this test, a white cloth is used as a standard abradant, and rubbed against the test fabric in both in both dry and wet conditions, with wet being more severe. Any colour transfer onto the white cloth, and colour loss from the test fabric is analysed and measured against a set of 5 grey scales (1 being least colourfast and 5 being most colourfast). The result we receive from the lab helps us to determine the recommended usage for the upholstery fabric.

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20 days ago

Key tips for a warmer, drier home – 7/9 – Draughts

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Stop cold air getting into your home by stopping draughts around doors, windows and fireplaces.

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22 days ago

Natural Textile Fibres

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Natural, plant-based textile fibres come from seed hair, such as cotton; from foliage, such as sisal; from the stem, such as linen; and some fibres come from shells, such as coconut.
Among the most widely used in the textile industry, important and recognized, we can list the following fibres:

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Natural, plant-based textile fibres come from seed hair, such as cotton; from foliage, such as sisal; from the stem, such as linen; and some fibres come from shells, such as coconut.
Among the most widely used in the textile industry, important and recognized, we can list the following fibres:

Abaca: Also known as Manila Hemp, abaca comes from leave sheaths around the stem of the plant of abaca, a species of banana. It is a leave fibre valued for its resistance to the damaging effects of salt water, its buoyancy and the length of the fibres, which can be more than 3 meters long. Currently, it is being increasingly used in the manufacturing of garments, household textiles and upholstery thanks to innovations in the process of this fibre. It is certainly still being used to manufacture sailing accessories, in the currency paper industry and automotive sector, and even in the food industry.

Cotton: Cotton grows in balls around the plant seeds and it is pure cellulose. Cotton is the natural textile fibre most widely used around the world and it is certainly the main protagonist in the global textile industry. There are two exceptional varieties of the highest quality: Egyptian cotton and Peruvian Pima.

It is widely used in the fashion industry, both in flat fabrics and in woven clothing items and household textile products. Cotton is used in combination with other natural and synthetic fibres, such as rayon, polyester, spandex, etc. Cotton fabrics are comfortable, very soft, have good heat conduction and absorbency; these characteristics make it perfect for garments that are in close contact with the skin, both in spring-summer and fall-winter seasons. Cotton tends to shrink; it is prone to wrinkles and fading.

Organic cotton: The biggest bet of sustainability is the use of certified organic cotton. It offers an efficient and sustainable use of natural resources avoiding synthetic or chemical pesticides and genetically modified seeds.

Coir: Coir is a short, hoarse fibre extracted from coconut husk. There are two types of coir: brown fibre, which comes from mature coconuts, and thin, white fibre, which comes from green, immature coconut husks. The white variety of coir fibre is used to manufacture rope and maritime elements because they are resistant to seawater. Brown fibre is employed to produce household textile items and even for the automotive industry. Additionally, geotextiles produced with coir mesh have special characteristics such as resistance to sunlight, great water absorption and they are 100% biodegradable.

Hemp: Hemp fibre is obtained from the stem of the plant. One of the most relevant features of this plant is that it captures large quantities of carbon. With 70% of cellulose, hemp is an excellent heat conductor, it absorbs dyes adequately, it blocks UV rays, it is very resistant to mildew and has natural antibacterial properties.

Recent developments to “cottonize” hemp fibre could open the doors of high-quality fashion market to this fibre. The longest hemp fibres can be woven and knitted to create curly fabrics, similar to linen, used in the textile industry. The mixture of hemp with cotton, linen, silk, and wool give hemp greater softness, while adding strength and durability to the product.
Hemp fibres are also used to manufacture paper and a wide variety of canvasses for different uses. It is also employed in the automotive and construction industries.

Linen: Linen is one of the strongest plant-based fibres in nature; therefore, it was one of the first to be grown, woven, and knitted to manufacture clothing and accessories. There are different types of linen based on their species. The main types are common flax and perennial flax.
Linen is a fabric with high mechanical resistance and little elasticity; therefore, it wrinkles easily. Its softness increases with washes. As linen quickly absorbs and releases water, and as it is an excellent thermal conductor, the fabric is fresh, highly valued and employed in the production of clothing for warm areas. Linen garments are fresh, comfortable, and they symbolize elegance in summer fashion.
Linen maintains a strong traditional niche among high-quality textiles for household products, beddings, upholstery, and interior design accessories.

Ramie: Ramie fibre is white with gloss similar to silk, and it is one of the strongest natural fibres, close to linen in absorption and density. It has little elasticity and it dyes easily. Ramie fibres have some transverse fissures that make it very fragile, but at the same time promote ventilation. The rugged ramie fibres are used to make ropes and nets. Through threading, they produce thin, very glossy thread that is used for a wide variety of garments.

Fabrics made 100% of ramie are lightweight, silky to the touch but with a linen appearance. Normally, as its elasticity and resistance are quite low, ramie is mixed with other textile fibres or used to improve the characteristics of other textile fibres. For example, ramie is added to wool to reduce shrinking or to cotton to increase strength.

Sisal: Sisal is an excessively hard fibre and inelastic to be used in the fashion industry. It is employed in small proportions and in combination with other fibres for the manufacture of accessories and home decor items. Currently sisal is mainly used in the furniture, automotive and naval industries, always combined with other materials.

Jute: Jute is extracted from the stem of a plant with the same name and it is very easy to grow and harvest. Jute is one of the cheapest fibres to produce. This fibre is also known as “golden fibre” because of its glow. Jute is one of the strongest, plant-based natural fibres, and it is second to cotton in terms of production volume. Jute presents poor absorption, so it deteriorates quickly when exposed to humidity; it has low thermal conduction, but it contains significant insulating and anti-static properties. Jute is used as supplementary material in textile and footwear manufacturing, as well as in household textiles.

Kapoc: It is a white fibre similar to hair that comes from the seeds of a tree called Ceiba Pentandra. Kapok is also known as “silk cotton” because of its gloss that resembles silk. Kapok’s fibre, weak and short, is resistant to moisture and it has a soft, lustrous texture. The largest volume of its production is used for household textiles.

Ramina: Ramina is a ligneous fibre also known as China grass. It is rigid, shiny, and lustrous. Ramina is used for household textiles.

24 days ago

Key tips for a warmer, drier home – 6/9 – Steam

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Open windows (ventilate) in the kitchen when you cook, and in the bathroom when you shower or take a bath, to let steam out.

When showering make sure to turn on the extractor fan and crack the window to let the steam out.
Use your kitchens extractor fan when cooking as it helps stop steamy … View more
Open windows (ventilate) in the kitchen when you cook, and in the bathroom when you shower or take a bath, to let steam out.

When showering make sure to turn on the extractor fan and crack the window to let the steam out.
Use your kitchens extractor fan when cooking as it helps stop steamy areas from getting damp and mouldy.

Created by New Zealand's Ministry of Health.

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29 days ago
30 days ago

Did Roman Blinds Come from The Romans?

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Roman Blinds are one of the most popular blind styles available on the market today, but interestingly, their origins started rather differently to how we know it today…
Created more than 2,000 years ago in Rome (surprise, surprise!), essentially the concept of the Roman blind still remains the … View more
Roman Blinds are one of the most popular blind styles available on the market today, but interestingly, their origins started rather differently to how we know it today…
Created more than 2,000 years ago in Rome (surprise, surprise!), essentially the concept of the Roman blind still remains the same today – to provide a simple solution to an everyday problem.

Introduced to The Eternal City in the ancient times, during the construction of the Colosseum, the Roman blind was invented out of pure necessity. Dust was constantly kicked up from the horse-drawn carriages and masonry remnants from the creation of the Colosseum, which was a nuisance and a huge inconvenience when windows were opened. Therefore, hanging a damp cloth from the windows seemed a natural solution to stop the dust from entering the home.

Once the blind (damp cloth) was well established in the home, it was soon discovered that as well as keeping the dust outside, it was also very useful in protecting against the very hot, Mediterranean sun and keeping their homes cooler.

The Romans are known for their love of elaborate decorations and the development of the Roman blind confirms this. They soon turned the damp cloths into ornate furnishing, with various patterns and colours to choose from, and once this was well established in the homes of many Romans, it became widespread throughout the whole Empire.

Following this, the strip of material then incorporated a drawstring, in order to lower and raise the blind as and when needed. The most common design of cord slats that interlinked is typical of Roman creativity, which came much earlier than even the simplistic roller blind.
Roman blinds remain a popular choice in modern homes. They’re available in a wide variety of styles and may be made from a range of materials, including bamboo, hemp, silk, reinforced cotton and other fabrics.

Roman blinds should be deep cleaned periodically. Unfortunately, they’re heavy and unwieldy to work with – and that’s where we come in. We can clean and repair your roman blinds – see out website if you’re interested in finding out more.

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34 days ago

Key tips for a warmer, drier home – 4/9 – Condensation

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Sometimes after a really cold night, water condenses on the windows and walls.
Wipe off any water that has collected (condensation) on walls and on the inside of windows so the house doesn’t stay cold and damp, or start to grow mould.
Damp air is more expensive to heat, dry air is easier and … View more
Sometimes after a really cold night, water condenses on the windows and walls.
Wipe off any water that has collected (condensation) on walls and on the inside of windows so the house doesn’t stay cold and damp, or start to grow mould.
Damp air is more expensive to heat, dry air is easier and cheaper to heat.


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37 days ago

Did you know you can clean your curtains?

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Curtains, drapes and blinds are an essential part of any room in the home. They gather dust, road film, pet hair, and dander — even mould spores. Over time, these things accumulate and make your window treatments look dingy.


It is important that they are taken care of so that they have … View more
Curtains, drapes and blinds are an essential part of any room in the home. They gather dust, road film, pet hair, and dander — even mould spores. Over time, these things accumulate and make your window treatments look dingy.


It is important that they are taken care of so that they have optimal function. Often people will hang curtains and then will forget about cleaning them which leaves dirt and dust hanging on your curtains. Once you start to regularly clean your curtains it will allow you to enjoy them even more.


Every time you open or close dirty curtains, the dust and other debris swirls around in your home’s air. Eventually, it lands on your furniture and floors, making your home look and smell dirty. If you suffer from indoor allergies, washing your curtains regularly will really help ease symptoms.


There are some reasons you want to clean your curtains regularly like if you or someone in the house has allergies. The curtains can be a holding ground for dust, dander, and dirt eventually if not washed often enough. Also, if there is a smoker in the house you will want to wash your curtains more than once a month at least. The smell of the smoke can quickly come embedded into the material of your curtains if not properly cared for.

There are a few other reasons to wash your curtains more often like living near a dusty road or even near the beach and salt water. It may wear away the colour of your curtains if not cleaned regularly. The hooks in the top go rust and need to be replaced before the rust starts to stain the fabric.



Curtains can be expensive and are certainly a luxury for any home. It is important to take good care of them so they last longer. Taking care of your belongings is always necessary to keep them looking fresh and new.

Call Curtain Clean to organise our door-to-door service or drop your curtains into our workshop anytime! See our website if you’d like more information: www.curtainclean.co.nz...

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40 days ago

Key tips for a warmer, drier home – 3/9 – Heating

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Check you have the best heating option for your home.

Keep your home warm and dry especially during the colder months. Gas heaters have dangerous fumes and can make your whare damp. An electric heater is much safer and cheaper to use. Heat pumps have a thermostat which keeps your home … View more
Check you have the best heating option for your home.

Keep your home warm and dry especially during the colder months. Gas heaters have dangerous fumes and can make your whare damp. An electric heater is much safer and cheaper to use. Heat pumps have a thermostat which keeps your home comfortable and helps keep costs down.


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42 days ago

How to grow your own Linen

Robert Anderson from Curtain Clean Napier

Linen has been used for thousands of years for clothes, bedding and furnishings. It is loved for its soft and cool feel. It is a very strong and durable material which will last much longer than other alternatives, like cotton. Growing your own linen may see overwhelming, but it helps to break it … View moreLinen has been used for thousands of years for clothes, bedding and furnishings. It is loved for its soft and cool feel. It is a very strong and durable material which will last much longer than other alternatives, like cotton. Growing your own linen may see overwhelming, but it helps to break it down into manageable steps.

Plant 1 kg. fibre flax seed in a 6m x 6m plot - One plot will give you enough fibre to make a shirt from line (long linen fibres) and tow to weave a couple of towels. Your actual yield will depend on growing conditions, how well you weed the plot and how perfect your retting and hackling techniques are.
Broadcast the seed thickly, over well tilled ground and then walk on it to firm the seed in.

Weed it well about 4 weeks after planting - Your flax will take about 2 weeks to germinate in a cool, wet spring. When it reaches just over 5cm in height you should walk into the plot and weed it well. You can step on the plants without damaging them when they are between 5cm and 30cm tall.

Admire the blue flax flowers as the linen grows - Once the bed has been weeded well, you can just admire it as it grows. About 60 days from planting the flowers start to open. It is very beautiful watching the blue flowers swaying in the breeze. Each flower is open for only one day. Each stock produces several flowers and each flower turns into a seed boll with 6 to 8 seeds.

100 days after planting, harvest the flax - The stocks of flax will be 2/3rds yellow and 1/3rd still green when it is ready to harvest. The flowering will be finished and each slender flax plant will have 4 to 6 seed bolls. You harvest the flax by hand, by pulling each plant out by the roots. Toss the weeds and place the stems of flax in order. Tie into bundles (shooks) about 30cm across, using strong twine.

Shook the flax and wait -Take the shooks of flax and put them, standing upright, under cover to finish maturing the seed and drying the fibre. The whole stock will turn brown as it dries. This takes a month in dry weather, a bit longer in wet weather.

Ripple the flax - Open each bundle of flax, take the flax by the root end and draw the seed end through wide toothed combs or a board with nails acting as teeth. This removes the seed heads. You can begin the retting process now or retie the bundles and wait till Spring.
The seed is edible and has a good oil content. You can crush the seed bolls and separate the seeds from the chaff by winnowing. Save about 1 kg. of seed to replant the field next year. If you don’t want to clean the seed by winnowing, you can feed it to your back yard chickens. They will take care of the seed bolls for you.

See our website for the full tutorial with pictures: www.curtainclean.co.nz...

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