Wool Week: 14-20 October,2013. Visit campaignforwool.org
For comfort, luxury and great good looks, wool is unbeatable. A cold, cheerless room becomes a warm, welcoming sanctuary with the addition of a pure wool tufted rug, a soft cashmere throw or a stack of felted wool cushions.
Versatile wool brings texture and colour into your home like no other fibre picture chunky handknits in cool creams, nubbly Scottish tweeds of heath and heather tints, lightweight bouclés in muted pastels, or candyfloss mohairs in rich berry shades.
Reader offer: Highgrove feathers lambswool throw - save £25
The Highgrove Shop supports the wool industry in the UK, working with designers, wool merchants and manufacturers to create bespoke products, with all profits going to The Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation.
This soft merino lambswool throw, in subtle grey and cream and embellished with the Highgrove feathers, is traditionally made in the UK and carries the Woolmark. Size 200cm by 130cm, the throw costs £125, but Homes & Property readers can buy it for the special price of £100, with free p&p, by quoting code HG555 when ordering at highgroveshop.com or calling 0845 521 4342. Offer closes 31 October. Professional dry clean only.
Tricia Guild, founder of Designers Guild, says: "I love to work with wool. It has a wonderful, flat-matte quality to it, which works so well set against a shimmering velvet or lustrous silk. And I don't think there is anything more inviting than the soft wool throw on a favourite chair by the fireside."
Her company conjures up lambswool, merino and cashmere throws in colours and prints that would make the drabbest room spring to vibrant life. Not surprisingly, its new wool furnishing fabric, Cheviot, is dyed luscious shades of fuchsia, moss, cobalt and turquoise.
Textile designer Claire-Anne O'Brien, who produces playful stools with seats in primary-bright wool that resembles outsize knitting stitches, and has worked with British spinners to create her own bespoke chunky yarn, enthuses: "I love pure wool because it smells of sheep, you know where it comes from, and it's a natural, high-quality product."
Emma Sewell, founder of textiles company Wallace Sewell, says: "The seats on the Underground have always been wool, because it's the hardest wearing material."
With her partner Harriet Wallace-Jones, she designed the pattern for the latest Transport for London Tube seats and, working with a textiles mill in Lancashire, has produced wool scarves and throws for Anthropologie as well as intricately patterned lambswool throws and cushions in honeycomb and basketweave.
Kerry Lord, founder of the Toft Alpaca Shop, which sells increasingly popular knit-your-own-kits for cushions, throws and rugs in luxurious natural alpaca, says: "The fact that our wool comes from our herd of 200 alpaca here in Warwickshire appeals to people who buy their meat from the farmers' market they want to know where the yarn comes from." In mid-October (2013), she's launching a new 100 per cent British blend of sheep's wool that, unusually, is as soft as merino.
Wool Week, starting on Monday 14 October, celebrates this fabulous fibre, highlighting it as natural, sustainable, renewable and biodegradable. It will be the fourth Wool Week, and we will be encouraged to pick up our knitting needles and get clacking.
In London, events kick off in John Lewis's Oxford Street window, where "yarn bombers" will knit their way around a plain white room setting Toft's contribution is a knitted sofa cover and end the following Saturday with a flock of select Bowmont Merino sheep pitching up in the courtyard of the Royal Academy.
Fleece and felt alike, wool makes a great insulator and sound absorber. So states Alternative Flooring, which, with its hand-woven wool Eco collection in luxe creams and taupes, boasts the UK's first biodegradable carpet.
Waste wool goes to make up Woolly Shepherd's clever, noise-absorbing, fluffy clouds that are suspended from the ceiling; naturally they're installed at the Met Office, but could equally float above your home office.
Talented Anne Kyyrö Quinn carves brightly coloured wool felt to her bidding, making sensational sculptural wall panels that are both artwork and acoustic. Her exquisite decorative ottoman-for-one, called Lola, made its debut in Carrie and Mr Big's apartment in the movie Sex And The City 2.
Up in Yorkshire, Abraham Moon is the UK's last fully "vertical" wool mill the only mill that takes the raw wool from dyeing and spinning through to weaving and finishing. The mill has been in operation since 1837 and its client roster includes Burberry, Boden, Dolce & Gabbana, Paul Smith and Ralph Lauren.
Four years ago Moon bought an ailing mill, Bronte, and the result is Bronte by Moon, a collection of gorgeous plain and print throws, cushions and blankets in alpaca, merino lambswool and mohair. In Wales, the Melin Tregwynt mill has been weaving traditional Welsh patterned blankets for over 100 years.
Its edgy new range of upholstery fabrics, in 100 per cent Shetland wool, has been picked up by interior designers including Matthew Hilton. You can see Melin Tregwynt's broad-striped wool blankets in such hot spots as Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall and the new Boundary Hotel in Shoreditch.
The Ardalanish Weavers, on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, are still weaving their spectacular tweeds from native Hebridean and Shetland flock, dyed with nature's colours such as woad and madder, for interior designers and Savile Row tailors.
Wool can be used imaginatively in so many ways throughout the home. In the bedroom you might have a smart tweed headboard and herringbone blanket box from Teasel England, which takes traditional weaves and recolours them; in the living room, perhaps a vintage chair re-covered in a patchwork merino knit from Melanie Porter, who strips back furniture, then has it reupholstered with panels she knits herself.
As a statement piece for the hall, Shauna Richardson's "crochetdermy" creations wool trophy heads of wild animals, worked in crochet are a cosier image than the real thing. More traditionally, the woven wool and mohair throw on sale at the Royal Academy shop, with abstract design by Scottish artist Barbara Rae, is so glorious, so dripping with mouthwatering bands of colour that you could pin it on any wall and consider it the finest artwork.