Thanks for your questions, AfrIndiemom. You've inspired a whole post.
1 - do your doublers have padding of cotton/hemp or something absorbant like that and then a piece of microfleece for water resistance? so the cotton would face bum and fleece would face diaper?
The microfleece is against the baby's skin because fleece feels dry even when it's wet. Microfleece covers are also an alternative to wool covers, although I've never used one so I can't recommend them. I like natural fibers. The only thing I've tried other than wool is PUL and I found it had the same lack-of-breathablility issues as disposables, although it didn't seem as severe. I also like the look of a wooly cover better.
2 - what's the deal with wool soakers? wool is water resistant, right? but what's this all about lanolizing them?
Wool in its natural state is water resistant. When wool is processed for commercial textile use, the lanolin is stripped out. Lanolizing is simply returning the oil to the wool. Back in the comments Jo linked to an article with the properties of wool. For lazy non-clickers (like me), a synopsis:
When urine comes into contact with lanolin it forms a soap, essentially making the diaper cover self-cleaning.
Wool can hold 70% of it's weight in moisture without feeling wet.
Lanolin is antibacterial.
Lanolizing takes about 15 minutes and can be done in the bathroom sink. I use a metal salad bowl. I take about a tablespoon of liquid lanolin (you can also use lansinoh or purelan, of you have it left over from breastfeeding a newborn) and dissolve it in hot tap water. It's an oil, so it won't really mix, you just want it to dissolve so there are no clumps. Pour the lanolin mix into cool water (enough to submerge and saturate the cover, but no more) and mix it around. Submerge the cover and leave it there for at least fifteen minutes. Gently press the excess water out of it and leave it to dry. It takes forever, at the very least overnight, more like a day or two. But once it's dry, it's waterproof. Minor poop leaks can be spot cleaned with water and a wool wash. Re-lanolizing should be done when it starts to smell like pee even when it's dry. For me, that took about a month of frequent use.
One drawback to wool covers is that you can't really put anything over them. The covers are part of the outfit. So those cute onesies and bubblesuits don't quite look the way they are supposed to. I buy two piece outfits and dresses, and I've altered some things to be cloth-compliant. Sometimes Miriam looks like a hobo-baby, but at least I've outgrown my BabyGap matchy-matchy rut.
I also discovered that wearing lanolized wool socks is a great treatment for my crack-prone feet.