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The Wool Wire | December 16, 2022

Let's test your wool IQ! But first, big news about scouring, testing, packaging, artificial muscles, bags, and more.

Clara Parkes
Clara Parkes
5 min read
The Wool Wire | December 16, 2022
Photo by Matt Palmer / Unsplash

News snippets from the wool world

Good morning!

We had our first snow here in Maine, with more due over the weekend. In the back of our car, we always carry a shovel and a bucket of sand. Last year I added a wool blanket to the winter emergency kit. Very quickly it migrated to the back seat, where it has taken up permanent residence. It enjoys the rides.

We have much to discuss this week, starting with exciting news from the Hudson Valley Textile Project. They are in the final stages of bringing in more scouring capacity for wool producers on the east coast!

After years of patient legwork, building partnerships, and gaining legislative support for the project, they're asking for our help to match grants and pledges they've already received.

To have a new regional standalone scouring facility with energy-efficient equipment would be a boon for wool producers in the northeast. Find out more.

And now, on with the wool news!

Australia and New Zealand team up to address the need for wool handlers

A bale of wool is only as valuable as its coarsest fibers, making the art of wool shearing and handling a vital one. Unfortunately, there's a global shortage of both workers. Australia and New Zealand now plan to work together on building training for shearers and wool handlers. Australian woolgrowers will be investing more than $10 million in this over the next three years, so consistency with what’s planned in NZ will be key.


Wool Muscles?!

You heard me right! For a while, researchers have been trying to develop artificial "muscles" to improve the movements of robots and ultimately lead to "smart textiles." In a recent development, a team of researchers at Jiangnan University in China have been experimenting with wool yarn. The results are promising.

New adaptive artificial muscles made of a single-helical woolen yarn
In recent years, material scientists have designed a wide range of innovative materials that could be used to create new technologies, including soft robots, controllers and smart textiles. These materials include artificial muscles, structures that resemble biological muscles in shape and that coul…

What's your wool IQ?

Here's a fun one. Some questions are specific to New Zealand, but most are generalized wool questions. See what you really know!


Peacoats Aplenty

How encouraging to see a high-profile magazine (in this case, Town & Country) promote wool to its readers. This listing of peacoats may be relatively short, but the author highlights the fiber content of each coat right up front. No need to click through and hunt it down, you can know right up front if you're looking at the real deal or a mishmash of fibers.

Ward of the Chill in Style With These Dependable Peacoats
Equal parts cozy and stylish, these wool toppers will have you covered (literally) from fall through winter.

Woola makes postal packaging from leftover sheep wool

The market for wool packaging material continues to heat up—or cool down, depending on how you use it. I love what the Estonian start-up Woola is doing. While they currently source their wool from the UK, they are working to establish a regional network of suppliers. It's a model we need to look into here in the United States.

"Woola essentially takes the surplus waste of one industry – leftover sheep wool – and uses it to tackle the waste problem of another – online shopping. The wool-based packages can be recycled, repurposed or returned by the consumer, with the key objective of making the service 'closed loop' so nothing goes to waste."
Ewe herd it here first: How Woola is disrupting online retail with sheep wool
The global ecommerce industry generates an enormous amount of plastic packaging - could leftover sheep wool be the solution?

MSU Wool Lab raising funds to modernize facilities

Montana and its 68 million acres of rangeland have long been a vital link in the American wool chain. In 2020, the state produced 1.5 million pounds of wool. Quality wool relies on frequent flock testing. While Montana State University does have a wool lab, the closure of the Yocum-McColl lab in 2020 has put even more pressure on this one, which is in desperate need of upgrading.

"Last year, the Montana State Legislature appropriated $5 million to update the lab, but only if the university could raise $1 million in matching funds by the end of 2022. So far, $425,000 has been raised."

That was in October. If you're interested in helping make sure they meet and possibly even exceed that fundraising goal, you can read more here.


How about a gift for later?

I'm a firm believer in leaving breadcrumbs for our future selves. Toward that end, here's something tempting from Mitchell Wool Co. Made from a vintage wool Hudson Bay blanket, undyed American-sourced leather, and cotton lining, this backpack comes from one of my favorite domestic wool families. If you preorder it now, you'll forget about it over the holiday rush and be delightfully surprised when you receive a gift for yourself early next year.

The KNIT NIGHT BAG - Hudson Bay
A brand new design that will be stocked, Cindy designed the perfect bag for knitting on the go. It carries everything you need for a knit night gathering. 1 bottle of wine and a 2 ball knitting project! Tall and slender, the KNIT NIGHT BAG is perfectly sized for comfortable carrying. The adjustable…

And for those of you in New Zealand, check out this new shop dedicated to all things wool. You're lucky to be able to order one of these beautiful wool bags without paying a fortune in shipping.

Husband and Wife Wool-Farming Team Honest Wolf Have Opened a Stunning Flagship Store in Hunterville
Forget farm to table – Honest Wolf is all about farm to arm (or head, or bag) with its range of luxe woollen everyday accessories.

That's it for now!

As we head toward winter solstice, keep that wool handy, enjoy the cozy, and know that light will soon return.

Until next time,

Clara


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Clara Parkes

Wool is life. I make The Wool Channel go.

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