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The Wool Wire | July 13, 2022

Wool harvesting innovations, a tax on sheep burps?! Estes Park round-up, Pendleton Healing Blanket, traceable wool collection from Australia and a nod to Duckworth, New Zealand’s wool standard, a take down of the Higg Index, and Faribault Mill expansion

Clara Parkes
Clara Parkes
5 min read
A flock of sheep grazing in the nature around Mashhad.
Photo by mahyar motebassem / Unsplash

News snippets from the wool world

Welcome to The Wool Wire, your semimonthly update on all the cool, strange, noteworthy developments in the world of wool!

But first, I want to draw your attention to a survey being conducted by McKay Erickson, a livestock agent with Utah State University Extension. He's gathering data on what knitters, crocheters, handspinners, felters, weavers, and other wool-workers actually want in terms of wool—and what we'd like to see improved. He'll share this data with domestic wool producers.

It's a quick survey, and your input has the potential to make a difference.

Go to the survey now.

Now, on to this week's news.

Wool Harvesting Is a Major Priority for AWI

Australia's woolgrower-funded nonprofit industry hub, Australian Wool Innovation Limited, is investing significant funds in new approaches to "wool harvesting"—otherwise known as getting wool off sheep. The investment will go toward "biological defleecing, shearing innovations, and increased training including high school students."

I know "biological defleecing" sounds creepy, but it's really just a matter of adjusting feed so that the sheep naturally develops a weak spot in the fleece. In theory, this weak spot would make it possible for someone to come along a few weeks later and, with a gentle tug, remove the fleece without a single snip. We'll see where they get with this one.


A buck a burp?

New Zealand considers taxing cow and sheep burps to combat climate change
The government of New Zealand has proposed a novel way of fighting climate change: charging farmers for the burps, farts and waste of farm animals.

Colorado's Estes Park Wool Market has a long history of "bringing together natural animal fiber producers, educators, retailers and consumers for the benefit of the industry." Over 40 images capture that magic.

PHOTO GALLERY: 30 years of the Wool Market
The Estes Park Events Complex was the site for a celebration of all things fiber this past weekend at the 30th Wool Market. The event had not been held since 2019 due to the pandemic. The event on …

Coming in December

Pendleton Healing Blanket specially designed to raise funds for Diné Missing and Murdered Relatives
News Release 24th Navajo Nation Council Madam Chair Amber Kanazbah Crotty of the 24th Navajo Nation Council was joined by Cellular One and Pendleton Woolen
The MMDR Healing Blanket will be available for purchase nationwide this December on the Pendleton website: www.pendleton-usa.com

Echoview Fiber Mill Closes

I was saddened to learn that Echoview Fiber Mill in North Carolina has closed as of July 4.

"There are many elements that have tied into the decision to close immediately, all of which we are sure you already know. Rising prices, cost of living, and the overall cost of sustainable domestic production have outpaced the growth of our small business. We hope that the values of Echoview for sustainable, small, local production and living wage continue to reside in the hearts of our customers and friends."

Australia's Sportscrafts new traceable wool collection

"Australian fashion and lifestyle brand Sportscraft partnered with AWI’s marketing arm, The Woolmark Company, to create and launch a 70-piece collection of traceable Australian Merino wool garments that champion the eco-credentials of the fibre and its journey from land to garment."

No mention of traceability would be complete without a shout-out to the Montana-based clothing company Duckworth and its Sheep to Shelf source-verified wool clothing. Duckworth claims to guarantee "total supply-chain responsibility, quality, and transparency from beginning to end." I recently ordered their WoolCloud Full Zip Jacket and look forward to testing it this winter.


New Zealand’s National Farm Assurance Programs


We looked at South Africa’s standards in an earlier Wool Wire, now let’s take a look at New Zealand’s program to “provide assurances {for meat and wool} regarding integrity, traceability, animal health and welfare, people, farm, and natural resources and biosecurity.”


This June 12, 2022 New York Times article critiques the Higg Index as fundamentally greenwashing.

How Fashion Giants Recast Plastic as Good for the Planet
An influential system overseen by retailers and clothing makers ranks petroleum-based synthetics like “vegan leather” as more environmentally sound than natural fibers.
"The Higg Index is being used to portray the increasing use of synthetics use as environmentally desirable despite questions over synthetics’ environmental toll."

You'll find a deeper take on the Higg hubbub in the recent deep dive that went out to TWC Foundation Flockers.

Deep Dive: Is the Higg Coming Unhinged?
A platform, publication, and community dedicated to learning about, celebrating, and advocating for wool.

Faribault Mill invests in new equipment to meet demand


I'm a big fan of the Faribault wool blankets. They have that perfect combination of heft and loft that leaves you cozy without feeling smothered. These blankets are seeing increased demand.

But if you look closely, you'll discover that the word "woolen" has disappeared from their brand name, a change necessitated by their purchase of Maine-based Brahms Mount. It's another made-in-America company that uses primarily cotton, as well as linen and wool, to produce its classic blankets, throws, and accessories. I love that they're woven on antique shuttle looms in Maine.


As always, thanks for reading and for your support.

Until next time,

Clara

News

Clara Parkes

Wool is life. I make The Wool Channel go.