The woman who encouraged us to stick sheep up the chimney has launched a new product - a raincoat for the washing.

Award-winning entrepreneur Sally Phillips of Chimney Sheep has invented the Laundry Mac, a breathable raincoat that can cover rotary washing lines which keeps washing dry and drying during showers.

Sally’s Chimney Sheep, woolly devices that are stuck into chimneys to exclude draughts, gained her a national reputation and led to her being invited to have a stall at the prestigious Grand Designs Live show in London.

Now she is launching the Laundry Mac.

Although Chimney Sheep is in Maryport, Sally lives in a large Victorian house in Cockermouth.

“It gets damp and drying clothes inside makes it damper. I sometimes found myself putting on the heating just to get the washing dry.”

She said she came up with the idea of a breathable, waterproof cover propped over her clothes line, much like a sun umbrella over a table.

“I just use an ordinary clothes prop to hold it up.”

She has refined the design and it now available for three- or four-pronged rotary lines.

“I can hang my washing up, cover it with the Laundry Mac and go off to work without worrying. The hem is weighted down so while the clothes can still blow around in the breeze the cover doesn’t blow off. I love it.”

A keen environmentalist and former ecologist, Sally said she decided to market the product because of research into the dangers of hanging washing indoors causing excess damp in the home.

Research has shown that five per cent of all houses

in the UK have damp issues. Drying laundry inside the home can contribute excess damp, producing allergens, irritants, and sometimes, toxic substances. In many cases this can cause or exacerbate many respiratory illnesses, particularly in children and the elderly.

The Laundry Mac reduces the risk of unnecessary damp throughout laundry to dry outside in all weathers. The Laundry Mac is available online from the Chimney Sheep.