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The Wool Wire | February 21, 2024

The vitamin D connection, a silly quiz, regenerative wool in action, Ba&sh and French wool, closing the loop on Swedish wool, and prized pullovers for life.

Clara Parkes
Clara Parkes
4 min read
The Wool Wire | February 21, 2024
Keeping cozy. // Photo by Tomas Tuma / Unsplash

News snippets from the wool world

Hello, my wooly compatriots!

It's a gorgeous February afternoon here in Maine. Despite the unexpected arrival of robins a few days ago, my neighbors have only now just dragged their ice fishing hut out onto the pond. Like a groundhog seeing its shadow, the arrival of that hut guarantees at least six more weeks of winter. More time for snoozing under the extra heavy wool comforters, I say.

This is around the time when people in northern latitudes start taking our vitamin D supplements extra seriously. In honor of reaching peak vitamin D season, I've released a new Wool Short about why we have sheep to thank for this miracle elixir.

Quiz Time

This year, I've added fun quizzes for members of the Foundation Flock. But here's a quick and somewhat silly quiz for everyone. It asks the question, How well do you know your wool?


Buzzword Watch

Have you noticed how often the term "regenerative" is cropping up these days? Without standards and solid data to back it up, the term risks losing its teeth and becoming just another "sustainable" or "eco-friendly."

Toward this end, I've been following the Nativa Regenerative Agriculture Program and its participants closely. This partnership with French clothing brand Ba&sh holds promise.

Ba&sh commits to regenerative agriculture projects
French fashion brand Ba&sh is teaming up with the Nativa Regenerative Agriculture Program to develop and finance regenerative agriculture projects.

Not only is the company committing to integrate regenerative wool into its clothing collections, but it's putting capital into sheep farms in Uruguay that are transitioning to regenerative practices. It's also, I was fascinated to note, committed to use 10% French wool in its collections by 2025.

France, a source of wool? Mais oui. After all, Rambouillet didn't come out of nowhere, did it?


Breeds Apart

The only drawback to the Nativa program: It's only for growers of Merino wool. And as I've said many times before, Merino may be luscious but we cannot live by finewools alone. Around the world, countless breeds of sheep are producing vast quantities of wool that also deserve our attention and support.

Take Sweden, for example. The country's climate and topography are not hospitable to Merino sheep, and yet Sweden is home to some 30 distinct breeds producing quality wool—more than half of which is incinerated for lack of market. While those farmers are burning their wool, Swedish manufacturers are importing 1,700 tons of wool from elsewhere.

The Swedish Wool Initiative aims to heal this disconnect and establish a new classification system for Swedish wool. The ultimate goal is to achieve zero waste of Swedish wool while helping manufacturers transition to a far more circular and sustainable sourcing of fibers.

The Swedish Wool Initiative – Towards Zero Wool Waste – the journey toward zero wool waste
Over 50% of produced Swedish wool is thrown away. The Swedish Wool Initiative is a cross-sectoral project aiming at reducing wool waste down to zero.

This video about the initiative gave me hope for similar kinds of initiatives taking hold around the world.


Pullovers for Life

While it's true that most of our commercial sweaters have become garbage, a new BBC article from Karan Krentcil offers a dusting of guidance and hope.

How one great sweater can last a lifetime
The Dude, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles all have their favourites. But what is the perfect jumper – Celtic classic, Cowichan knit or “extreme cashmere”?

Krentcil gets minor demerits for describing knitting as a process of "knotting threads together" and for trotting out the old "no longer for grannies" trope. Still, the piece does a good job of highlighting a handful of small-scale designers, Indigenous growers, and the merits of—ding ding ding—regenerative wool.

And on that note, I'll let you get back to your day. I'm headed out to my neighbor's ice-fishing shack to make sure everyone is staying warm.

Thanks as always for your readership and your support.

Until next time,

Clara

News

Clara Parkes

Wool is life. I make The Wool Channel go.

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