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The Wool Wire | November 29, 2023

Dreams for American Woolen Company, Bremworth helps NZ's sheep farms, meeting Montana's McKamey family, swapping plastics for wool, revisiting the classic McDonalds, saving wool tables, and using wool to ace tests

Clara Parkes
Clara Parkes
6 min read
The Wool Wire | November 29, 2023
Sheep crossing. // Photo by Jovana Askrabic / Unsplash

News snippets from the wool world

Hello, my friends!

And just like that, it's almost December. Our hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves have been returned to their basket by the door, ready for duty. All we need is snow and I'll be able to give my blankets a refreshing bath.

🐑 A quick heads-up to Foundation Flockers, our next Flock Talk livestream is Thursday at 7pm EST. This month I take you on a very special textile tour of Paris, share my favorite clever wooly gifts for the holiday, and announce our next readalong. Details and the link here. 🐑

I have some particularly scintillating wooly tidbits for you this week. We meet a ranching family in Wyoming and hear a heartwarming story of how one man is giving wool tables a second life in rural Australia.

Then, in New Zealand, we have an encouraging story of what one major carpet maker is doing to combat the loss of farmland. I share a great information sheet from the IWTO to help you promote wool at the dinner table this holiday season. We revisit a McDonald's in Poland that took "sweater weather" to a whole new level.

And finally, I share an extremely exciting, albeit small study of how the fibers in our clothing may affect our cognive performance.

But first, let's sneak over to Connecticut to see what American Woolen Company's Jacob Long envisions next.

Taking the Long way home

Connecticut's largest business organization is paying attention to American Woolen Company. In this short interview with AWC's president Jacob Long, you'll find an extremely exciting bit of information.

When asked what he envisioned next, Long said he wanted to open an "in-house garment manufacturing activity to create America's first wool textile/apparel ecosystem."

Can you imagine being able to wear a coat made in the very same mill complex where the fabric was made?

Made in Connecticut: American Woolen Company » CBIA
More than a fine textile manufacturer, American Woolen considers itself a creator of New England inspired textile content.

Setting an example in New Zealand

I can't write a Wool Wire without mentioning the situation in New Zealand. But there's good reason, as what is happening there—the loss of sheep pastureland to carbon forests—can and will spill over into other wool-producing countries.

I was heartened to see what New Zealand carpet maker Bremworth has been doing to try and stem the tide. The company has announced ten-year contracts with its sheep farmers, to help provide them with a guarantee of financial security.

The article also does an excellent job of explaining just how much more profitable it is to turn farmland into carbon forests—and the devastating effect this move can have on communities.

As a bonus, you get to see New Zealand's agriculture minister use the word "codswallop."

Last spin of the loom: How carpet can salvage NZ’s dying wool industry
Kiwi carpet-maker Bremworth will today announce new 10-year supply contracts to provide its farmers certainty – and the agriculture minister wants agencies to look favourably on NZ wool carpets. Jonathan Milne reports.

Who grew your wool, the Montana edition

Speaking of declining sheep numbers, let's take a look at who is still carrying the wool torch here in the United States. We head to Montana to meet the McKamey family and hear their story.

Montana Ag Network: Highlighting the sheep industry
With a decline in flock numbers after the First World War, the sheep industry still has a place in The Treasure State.

Reasons to ditch plastic for wool

Should you find yourself debating the merits of wool at the dinner table this holiday season, here's a helpful information sheet from the IWTO about wool's merits in the home—something not everybody knows about. While many of the points have been covered before, the IWTO has done a really good job of putting it together into a succinct pitch.

Wool: the Sustainable Alternative to Plastics in the Home | IWTO
The Campaign for Wool New Zealand’s new campaign is all about why wool products are the sustainable alternative to plastics in your home.

McWhat??

Seeing as sweater weather is once again upon us, let's revisit a very special McDonald's in Poland. Last year, to celebrate the return of the wintertime "Burger Drwala," or "lumberjack burger" special, they decked out one McDonald's in giant knitwear, on the exterior and interior.

"The effort took about 28 days and was the result of the hard work of about 50 people. The McDonald's outlet in Poland has created waves not just in the country, but also globally. It was even used to shoot a restaurant commercial."

I should note that in some countries "wool" is often used interchangeably with "yarn," so the actual fiber content of this decor may vary. But the idea and execution are still outstanding. Drone footage makes it look like a miniature children's toy set.

Wait, What? McDonald’s In Poland Gets A Winter Makeover - See Pics
McDonald’s Poland trended after it gave itself a winter makeover, complete with a woolen outer facade as well as an inner cosy atmosphere as well.

Bringing wool to the table

One of the most important pieces of equipment in a shearing shed is the skirting table—or "wool table," as they call it in Australia. Freshly shorn fleeces are expertly thrown onto this giant slatted surface so that people can swoop in, quickly remove lower-value bits from the fleece, examine its quality, and place it in the proper bin for baling.

But what happens when that skirting table has reached the end of its useful life? One carpenter in rural Australia is transforming these old wooden slatted tables into heirloom furniture. It's a very sweet story.

Old wool tables given a second life
ABC Rural News provides authoritative coverage of the business and politics of Australian farming, livestock, forestry, agriculture and primary production

Staying cool under pressure

We can file this one under "I Knew It!" AWI recently funded a study to determine what impact, if any, the fiber contents of our clothing have on our performance in high-stress, cognitively challenging conditions. I'll let you guess how wool fared.

Wool helps you stay ‘cool under pressure’
A new AWI-funded study run by the University of Adelaide has shown that people wearing wool perform better during cognitively stressful tasks than those wearing synthetics.

Should you find yourself in stressful conditions this month, rip off the petroleum-based fibers, wrap yourself in wool, and watch those little grey cells come back to life.

Thank you, as always, for your readership and your support.

If you like what you read and are interested in supporting this work, I invite you to become a member of TWC's Foundation Flock. We have monthly livestreams, readalongs, deep-dives, and generally quite a lot of fun—all while helping advocate for wool in the world.

Until next time,

Clara

News

Clara Parkes

Wool is life. I make The Wool Channel go.

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