Alternative Pillows

One of struggles with estrogen dominance (ED) is reducing environmental exposure to estrogen and estrogenic compounds.  Petroleum is one of the biggest contributors to environmental estrogenic compounds in our society; which makes petroleum-based plastics a hazard for those with ED.  And plastics are everywhere: computers, cell phones, car interiors, power tools, linoleum floor, vinyl showers/tubs, and, perhaps most insidiously, polyester.  It’s extremely difficult to find polyester-free clothing and bedding.

Almost two years ago, I located 100% cotton sheets and blankets.  A mattress and pillow, however, have been elusive.  The most common poly-fill alternative for pillows is down; but a good down pillow can cost a couple hundred dollars, and all reviews I’ve read indicate that they don’t maintain their lift as well as poly-fill.  Feathers apparently maintain lift better, but they break and poke through the liner.  Buckwheat hulls sound like a possible option, but I’ve seen one at a doctor’s office and they’re really noisy with any kind of movement.  Then I came across the idea of a wool pillow.

However, wool pillows are still upwards of $100 to buy.  But I live in an agricultural area: surely I could find wool somewhere for cheap, and I could make my own pillow, right?  Right!

I connected with an alpaca rancher in one of the nearby towns who had washed “seconds” (lower-quality wool that can’t easily be spun into yarn and is often used for felting) for $20 per pound; a little research informed me that a firm, standard-sized pillow needs about two pounds of wool.  In addition, the rancher has had seconds made into pillows in the past, so she was able to provide some tips for making my own.  I made arrangements to drive up to the ranch to buy the wool.  I had a wonderful, three-hour visit with her, including meeting her herd.  On my way back home, I stopped and picked up a yard of 100% cotton quilt batting and a yard of unbleached muslin.

This morning, I made my pillow.

Combed wool.

First step was to comb the wool. I don’t have a quality comb, so I made do the best I could with a grooming brush. I piled it on the quilt batting.

Wrapped quilt batting.

Once the wool was combed and piled, I wrapped the quilt batting around it. I used a piece of cardboard to help compress the wool enough to secure the quilt batting into the size of a pillow form.

Pillow cover

I sewed the muslin into a pillow cover, leaving one end unsewn. I slid the wrapped wool into the cover, and then hand-stitched the end of the cover to secure the entire pillow form.

Pillow, protected

I completed the protection of the wool by adding two 100% cotton zippered pillow protectors. These can be removed for washing, and the extra layers protect the wool, hopefully preventing any need to wash the pillow itself.

Squeak gets a little woolen pad made with an old t-shirt

I had some leftover clumps of wool that I couldn’t seem to get combed out, so I sewed up an old t-shirt and filled it with the clumps for Squeak. She is definitely enjoying it!

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