Cloth Diaper Geek’s
Recommended Wool Covers and Wool-in-Ones
by Karla Fischer

[Introduction to wool]

Wool Soakers 

The second style of wool cover is the soaker, which is an old-fashioned looking cover that is knitted either by hand or machine (or a combination).    Here are some examples of wool soakers.

Woolly Bottoms


Little Turtle Knits

Wool soakers are designed to pull up like pants and have elasticized waists and leg cuffs.  They can be used over fitted diapers or over snappied/pinned prefolds.  Because the knitted covers are so soft and stretchy, a trifolded or unpinned prefold diaper will simply sag down to the bottom of the cover, or shift around so much that it will not effectively absorb. Soakers tend to be bulky (as knitted wool is thicker than wool fabric) and are a night time favorite by many cloth diapering parents.  For a heavy wetter at night, a wool soaker may be your best insurance against wet sheets.  But soakers are not just for night time:  they work great in lieu of shorts in the summertime.  Wool soakers can often be custom-sized or they may come in numerous sizes (more than the typical 2 or 3 sizes of diapers and covers).  It is important to get a good fit with a wool soaker, because leg holes that gape will leak and a waistband that droops may wick moisture onto your baby’s clothes or bedding.  The WAHM maker of Woolly Bottoms uses recycled knit sweaters for her soakers, while other companies offer organic or untreated wool (see the German-made organic wool soaker from Green Mountain Diapers). 

The consumers who have purchased recycled wool sweaters have reported a “hit or miss” phenomenon with them:  some work great, and others leak even under mild wetting.  There are a number of things that may prevent your recycled wool cover from working properly:

1) it may be made from a wool sweater that is dozens of years old and the lanolin that once was in the wool has long worn out; or
2) the soaker made be made from wool that is heavily machine processed, and that can strip the natural lanolin from the wool.  If you don't regularly replace the lanolin in wool (most people who own sweaters don’t), the hairs will dry out and leave air pockets that are too big in the spaces that the hairs inhabit. Rather than trapping moisture, the wool hairs just let moisture through, to soak clothes, sheets, etc.

Theresa of Little Turtle Knits has also reported that some wool sweaters that are sold for recycling as 100% wool are really a wool/nylon blend, and the nylon in the soaker wicks moisture through it.  Some sweaters also are coated with “superwash”, which is a resin coating, and this will also cause wicking.  If you want to try a recycled wool cover, ask the maker about the source of the recycled wool and/or about the return policy if the soaker doesn’t work properly.  It is unlikely that a hand-knit soaker will have any of these problems, because the knitter WAHM will know exactly where her wool comes from, the “fresh” wool will still contain much of its natural lanolin, and the knitting process (unlike machine made sweaters) does not remove the lanolin from the wool.

Top Picks Wool Soakers

Top Picks in this category are the much-beloved Aristocrats wool soaker (widely available and retails at approximately $20) and the trim-fitting, hand-dyed Little Turtle Knits (approximately $25).  Besides Little Turtle Knits, the soakers made by Kool Sheep Soakers are also trim enough to fit under clothes.  Freshies makes two innovative products in this category:  1) crocheted soakers, including those made with hand-dyed wool, and 2) “buttsweater pants”, which are pants made from recycled wool sweaters.  The buttsweater pants are intended to be worn as both diaper cover and pants.  Two WAHMs have recently started knitting soakers with designs such as appliqued celtic knots, pumpkins, or other objects (actually knit into the soaker):  see Kool Sheep Soakers and Wooly Wonders for photos of their lovely, hand-dyed work.  I predict that soakers will be the next “Diaper Art” trend, as their combination of function, textured design, color, and the talent of the makers cannot be duplicated in a hand-sewn cover made of wool fabric.

Wool Soaker Comparison Chart

Product/Maker Name   Price Where to Buy   Reviews Online
Top Picks: Aristocrats        $20 BornToLove 2, 3, 4 
Little Turtle Knits $25 LittleTurtleKnits 3
Other Recommended Soakers: Freshies (crocheted) $38   Freshies 3
  German (Disana) Organic Wool Soaker $24   GreenMountainDiapers 2
Kool Sheep Soakers $30  KoolSheepSoakers 3
Lana Merino Wool $32 GreenMountainDiapers  
Woolie Babie Soaker  $17   WoolieBabie  3
Woolly Bottoms (recycled wool)  $17 WoollyBottoms  1,2,4
Wooly Wonders  $35 WoolyWonders  
Online Review Key: 1= MacSpeno 2= DiaperPin  3=  4.BornToLove

copyright (c)2003 Karla Fischer May not be reprinted without permission.

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