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The Wool Wire | June 29, 2022

A new mill in Nebraska, beating the Martindale abrasion tester, blending hemp and Merino, extracting keratin, best wool for cycling, and an Irish shepherdess.

Clara Parkes
Clara Parkes
3 min read
Photo by Biegun Wschodni / Unsplash

News snippets from the wool world

TMC Named to Fast Company List of World's Most Innovative Companies

Look out Merino, a New Zealand company has moved the needle in terms of which wools are suited for apparel. TMC's new Herculan textile technology uses carpet and upholstery grade wool, "materials that are overabundant, underutilized, and are often cast aside." The technology "transforms strong wool fibres into a lightweight, twist-free yarn."

TMC's emerging textile technology Herculan has unique durability and performance benefits that for the first time opens the door for wool to be used in high abrasion and high impact zones in apparel such as socks, footwear, gloves, pants, outerwear, and thousands of other potential applications, without succumbing to wear.

To prove the wearability claims, Herculan fabric was run 250,000 rubs on a Martindale abrasion tester. That's the standard machine for testing wear on commercial fabric. Allegedly after three weeks the lab shut off the machine because the fabric wasn't budging and they needed the equipment elsewhere. For context, fabric used on public transportation has to survive 40,000 rubs. This is strong stuff.

Meanwhile, three New Zealand farmers are innovating with a new fiber blend of hemp and Merino called Hemprino.

At 80% merino and 20% hemp, the fabric combines the attributes of both. It is claimed to be warm and breathable, durable but soft and luxurious (and getting softer with time). It is also biodegradable at end of life.

While the company currently sources the hemp from China, its goal is to demonstrate demand for the fiber so that New Zealand farmers will start growing it.

Kelsey Patton sets up the only fiber mill in Nebraska

Here's a remarkable story of perseverance, hard work, and dedication for you. In 2011, Kelsey Patton opened a yarn store in Stromburg, Nebraska. Six years later, she decided to diversify her business by adding a custom fiber mill—Nebraska's first. But when she first approached the Nebraska Business Development Center for help with funding, she was told no because "Nebraska is not a center of textile industry." (A choice response from a group whose name has the word "development" in it.) Fortunately, Patton was undeterred. Today, The Fiber Mill is now up and running and serving customers in Nebraska and throughout the west. Kelsey also continues to run the Spindle, Shuttle and Needle shop.

Keratin Extracted from New Zealand's Wool

New research finds that New Zealand’s wool contains higher levels of keratin, a scleroprotein that is used in cosmetics, topical wound care, and dietary supplements. This discovery has the potential to ensure the sustainability of wool production in New Zealand, where sheep breeding has historically focused on coarse wool, which yields higher levels of keratin than finewool sheep breeds.

Any mountain bikers out there? Smartwool has a wool/Tencel blend you can try

Smartwool’s Bike Collection Is Its Lightest and Airiest Apparel Yet
Smartwool touts its latest cycling apparel as ‘fresh and colorful styles’ for your mountain biking quiver.

Shepherdess Carly Murnane farms in Cork, Ireland

Former horse trainer and gardener turned shepherdess, hide tanner and wool crafter
Carly Murnane is a professional wool crafter and shepherdess (sheep farmer) based in Co Cork, Ireland, who moved from the UK.

Clara Parkes

Wool is life. I make The Wool Channel go.


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