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I would love to see the woolen industry rise from the ashes  RSS feed

 
Travis Johnson
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Here in Maine they call this the Fibre Arts and there is a kiosk next to the interstate in Brunswick stating just where all the farms are that are cater to the fiber arts. That is because Brunswick (close to Freeport) is the gate way to this tourist state. I love the idea and hope other states can join suit.

I was going to build some hiking paths on my own farm just so that there could be some self-guided tours and such, just because my family has a long history of sheep farming here (9 generations) and further back if you go back to Cambridge, MA (the first sheep shearing shed in New England). I come across I know as a non-caring commercial sheep farmer, but that is not the case at all. Right now there is no commercial value in wool, but that was not always the case. Up until the 1950's a sheep was very profitable in Maine because of the wool, and many woolen mills existed here. My Great-Grandfather, many times removed obviously, came on the Mayflower and was a tailor by trade and when those Pilgrims realized how cold it was in New England due to the jet stream and not the latitude, they clamored for warm clothes. There were no sheep on the Mayflower manifest, but 3 years later there was a deed that showed a land swap that involved sheep so they arrived soon after!

I would love to see the woolen industry rise from the ashes. It is one reason I have sheep; wool is what makes a sheep a sheep.
 
r ranson
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Creating a sustainable local textile industry is very interesting to me.  There are a lot of hobbyists and artisans making good use of local fibre sources, but I don't think that's sustainable.  We need to get things just a little bit larger - like the fibershed movement is doing.  They are incorporating small and large farms, carbon farming and permaculture techniques. 

Philosopher's wool has managed to rebuild their local wool market and demand. 

A lot of large sheep farms in north america sheer their sheep but have nowhere to sell their wool.  Yet in  New Zealand and Austraila, wool is the primary crop and meat secondary. 

What conditions would be necessary to rebuild local wool markets and mills?
 
David Livingston
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I think it's difficult as you either have to have a niche , I was thinking Harris Tweed or felting yurts ,Arran sweaters ,  scottish kilts ,Norwegen socks ,  cloth caps or a group of willing buyers such as enthusiasts for a certain wool ( cashmere angora etc ) or unbelievably cheap labour ( 3rd world folks only need apply )
Identifying a unique local product might help .
Wool has other uses such as insulation might that be a use ?

David
 
Travis Johnson
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We have Bartlett Yarns here which has stated they do want wool, but it pays around 29 cents per pound for raw, unclean wool. Clean wool might fetch a dollar per pound, and in case anyone is wondering, a meat sheep produces about 8 pounds of wool per year, a dual-purpose sheep like mine; 13 pounds of wool, and wooly sheep around 16 pounds of wool. From there you can do the math. A Pound of wool produces about 10 miles of yarn. So one of my sheep could produce about 130 miles of yarn; which is good, but also bad. Its almost too much of a good thing.

For me, I often toss my wool out into the woods, compost it, or give it away. Of the latter...they never come back for another years worth of wool (though they could).

The real issue is in the cost of converting it from 29 cent pound dirty wool, to $1 per pound clean wool. It does not seem that daunting, but at some point tons of wool must be moved, washed, dried, properly stored, then hauled to market. That is a lot of steps, a lot of labor, and transportation for 71 cents more per pound. And don't forget that wool can only be washed in warm water, not cold, so bring a vast amount of cold ground water to warm  costs money too. So there are some challenges for sure.

My wife and I have talked about having a retail store right on farm, nothing big by any means, and while we do have the space, we do NOT have the location. I live in a very rural, rural area where even the mail lady gets lost! (Joking). But that could be part of the answer. Maybe not yarns and felts so much, but i is a shame we do not glean some pelts off our sheep. It is not a skill set I have-tanning sheep and lamb hides that is, butI am not opposed to it.

I am not sure what the answer is. As I sit here typing this I do know I am part of the problem. I am dressed, yet not one article of clothing upon me is made from wool. In fact about as close to natural fibers as I can get is cotton, and having a friend who grow cotton in Texas, I will say he is as more disgusted at how it is grown then I am I think! I am however have a deep respect for R Ransom for bring this topic up for discussion, and even writing a book about it.

 
Travis Johnson
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I have two semi-ideas on the challenges of all this, and even then I am not sure of their validity. These are loose thoughts so bear with me...

One thing my wife and I have done over the years is raise sheep economically. We do that because we think outside the box and pretty much build everything we need ourselves. Use-what-we-got is our mantra. I think if I really spent some time on this, I could design a fleece washing facility that was economical and labor saving. I have not done that yet because the profit margin (71 cents per pound) does not justify it, and we can simply raise more sheep for meat sales right now. At some point we will however meet our carrying capacity though, and that is when wool sales will be more of a priority.

We do however have a house across the road that is unused. I know NOTHING about interns, and while it scares me to think this farm would have to care for the needs of additional people (what would be 8 in total), they (assuming they were a couple) could use the wool to aid in their subsistence. I am not sure about the details, but basically because they did not have the burden of owning their own flock and the cost of feeding, housing, and living in a rent-free home; they could devote their time entirely to the fiber arts. This is time my wife and I do not have to fully use the woolen resources grown here. Now I have done some time studies, and my wife and I are fully capable of doing most sheparding duties with the exception of shearing days; that we would have to get help for. On those days; and because it is related to the fiber arts directly, our neighbors (I dislike the term interns) would help out. In some ways this could be scaled up or down, or modified to other farms. Granted housing for the couple would have to be provided, but it could be done.

I see this as a win-win-win; full use of the sheep, supplemental help for our sheep farm, and by having low overhead, a person/couple could devote themselves to the fiber arts entirely.

Thoughts?
 
Dawn Hoff
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Travis Johnson wrote:I have two semi-ideas on the challenges of all this, and even then I am not sure of their validity. These are loose thoughts so bear with me...

One thing my wife and I have done over the years is raise sheep economically. We do that because we think outside the box and pretty much build everything we need ourselves. Use-what-we-got is our mantra. I think if I really spent some time on this, I could design a fleece washing facility that was economical and labor saving. I have not done that yet because the profit margin (71 cents per pound) does not justify it, and we can simply raise more sheep for meat sales right now. At some point we will however meet our carrying capacity though, and that is when wool sales will be more of a priority.

We do however have a house across the road that is unused. I know NOTHING about interns, and while it scares me to think this farm would have to care for the needs of additional people (what would be 8 in total), they (assuming they were a couple) could use the wool to aid in their subsistence. I am not sure about the details, but basically because they did not have the burden of owning their own flock and the cost of feeding, housing, and living in a rent-free home; they could devote their time entirely to the fiber arts. This is time my wife and I do not have to fully use the woolen resources grown here. Now I have done some time studies, and my wife and I are fully capable of doing most sheparding duties with the exception of shearing days; that we would have to get help for. On those days; and because it is related to the fiber arts directly, our neighbors (I dislike the term interns) would help out. In some ways this could be scaled up or down, or modified to other farms. Granted housing for the couple would have to be provided, but it could be done.

I see this as a win-win-win; full use of the sheep, supplemental help for our sheep farm, and by having low overhead, a person/couple could devote themselves to the fiber arts entirely.

Thoughts?

It sounds really ideal.

When I look at my yarns stash and the amount of wool socks, sweaters and shawls we have here in our house I can honestly say that I am not a contributor to the death of the wool industry... I have enough even to feed the moths!

Here in Spain quality wool is hard to come by... my local yarn store carries 1 (!!!) yarn that is pure wool and that is super wash treated. There is a Norwegian yarn store 45min drive from here - and she only has a few untreated yarns, the rest is super washed... People here seem to consider you a snob if you prefer wool over acrylics, because of the price difference. But I will be darned if I spend hours and have yes knitting a sweater made out of plastic! Why be cheap w. the materials if I invest that much time? It seems like I wouldn't be valuing my own time...

But that brings me to another question -
Why is the price tag so low on wool? I easily pay €10+ for 100g of merino (ir. €50 for a pound), yet my neighbor has merino sheep and burns his wool... is it really that expensive to clean and spin?
 
K Putnam
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I don't know if you've followed Brooklyn Tweed at all.  Jared Flood, a knitting designer, decided to develop high-quality U.S.-milled yarn from U.S.-raised sheep.  For a lot of knitters, this has become their go-to yarn in a very short amount of time.  It IS expensive but it is a superior product and seems to have had excellent sales nationwide.  I do not know what the sheep farms are paid per fleece,  but I believe half the point of the project was to pay a fair price to U.S. farmers for their product.

I could see a similar model and branding put in place for textile fabrics sold, if not to major designers, to people who enjoy making their own clothes and are willing to pay a good price for high-quality wool fabric.  The Brooklyn Tweed yarns have an excellent feel and loft; I imagine something similar could be done for larger swaths of fabric.   What makes the Brooklyn Tweed model work so well is pattern support and regular design publication specifically using those yarns.  Designers put the yarn to its highest and best use...and the combination is bliss for the end user.
 
Travis Johnson
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I wonder if maybe a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) set up might also work?
 
r ranson
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A video about a new vision for woollen mills in California.  What really interested me was the goal to pay the farmers up front, to give them a fair price, and.. well, everything. 

wool mill vision
Fibershed’s wool mill vision is the product of one year’s worth of research conducted by a study team of engineers, textile specialists, and the Fibershed staff. We sought to understand the viability of creating a regional milling economy fueled by our homegrown and currently undervalued wool resources.

We constructed an ideal technical roadmap for a closed-loop mill design utilizing renewable energy, water recycling, and composting systems. The products from the mill were analyzed and shown to have a high potential for net carbon benefit.

Currently only .03% of California’s wool is being processed within the state, and yet California remains a net importer of wool goods. The Mill design was created to support our local farms and ranches through placing a higher value on wool fiber, while providing livelihoods, as well as ecologically sensitive and ‘homegrown’ goods for the local population. The suggested model outlines the potential for a multi-stakeholder co-op that would close the financial loop between profits and the producers, furthering the positive economic impact for our ranching and farming communities. (Illustration above by Andrew Plotsky)




 
Amit Enventres
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I've thought about it too as a consumer. I decided since natural fiber is so expensive and rare I was going to grow some on my tree lawn, enough to keep me crocheting through winter and slowly convert our stuff away from off-gassers. It pains me to know you are throwing it out! I also looked into kambucha clothing since my daughter and I like sewing together and how I can stabilize it. That's how desperate I am as a conscious consumer for natural fiber. In fact, I just had a conversation with someone this past weekend about how expensive natural fiber bedding is.

If your saying it's so low priced that you are throwing it out, I do think wool sellers and consumers need to be brought together. I think I pay atleast $10/5 lb cheap fake pillow filling. That's double the dollar amount and needs less refining than for spinning quality because it will be stuffed in cotton or something.

Stuffing it into  cotton pillow case makes the product $81 online. Running some stitches through it with a fancy sewing machine to flatten it out to a duvet makes it $180. Couldn't you expand on this idea and make upper-class dog beds, add a frame and make a wool-stuffed sofa or lounge chair?  How about a natural mattress pad? I'd think that well pays for the cost of making it.

Now, I can't afford an $81 pillow, but if you get in on online store thing like Etsy or something, it seems you could do well on wool for those who can afford that. Or maybe you can find a price that is reasonable for you and the consumer.  Maybe you could even get into a local store or something. I just found out about a new app called Veggievinder, I don't know if it would work for wool, but I got in touch with the guy doing it, so if your interested, I can ask.
 
Amit Enventres
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I asked anyway out of my own curiosity. That website/till is just for fresh fruit/veggies.
 
Destiny Hagest
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I'm a huge lover of wool for a variety of applications, and I think the largest market for this in the coming years is likely going to be in children's apparel and mattresses.

Over the last few months, I've focused heavily on building my writing business and have been doing a lot of market research as a result. What I've found is that consumers are getting more informed than ever, and there really is a strong demand for more sustainable and effective alternatives to petroleum-based textiles like polyester.

I hate seeing truly sustainable things become "trendy", but I would kind of love to see that happen on a larger scale with wool, and I think it's right around the corner.

With cloth diapering catching on in massive numbers, and people looking for alternatives to petroleum-based mattresses, I've seen a really large surge in wool products in those sectors, and I think with the right marketing, that will continue to take off.

I think the biggest thing here is going to be pitching consumers on the incredibly unique benefits of this textile, like the antimicrobial nature of it and the circulation benefits.
 
r ranson
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Another video on growing a fibreshed.  What really impressed me was that they went out to as many farms as they could and took samples of all the wool.  They didn't go out to wool producing farms but instead went out to larger scale, meat production farms.  Farms that would normally compost their wool.  The results were that these meat sheep were already producing a high-quality wool, in the 21-micron range which is what you would want for a standard sweater or even some next to the skin clothing.  By selecting for wool quality when breeding, they could possibly improve this.



I think that many meat sheep produce an acceptable fleece that could be processed by mill machinery into something useful. 
I think some meat sheep in a flock produce better fibre than others, and it may be possible to breed for somewhat better wool without reducing the value of the meat. 

Talking with local farmers, the biggest challenge in selling their wool is the price of shipping it is more than the money they get for it.  Wool is bulky and shipping is as much by size as by weight. 
At the moment, they bail up the wool, unskirted, and send it off in a big sack.
What if, it was skirted and graded before sending?  This would require a trained team, not just trained in how to evaluate wool, but also in how to go to a farm without getting in the way of the farmer. 
What if they bought the wool direct from the farmer, right there?  Cash in hand.  The price would need to depend on the quality of the fleece, but in theory, a farmer with a healthy flock would make back AT LEAST the cost of shearing, potentially quite a bit more. 
What if, they had a relationship with a mill and had a way to ship larger quantities of wool to the mill?  The mill either buys it off these ... what would they be called? wool sorters?... or they get the finished product back and sold it.  I don't know, I haven't thought this far ahead.  This is just in the thought experiment stage.

But I think shipping wool that is skirted and sorted, would mean we could send more fleeces for less money.  It also means we might be able to get more money per pound. I think this wouldn't be such an issue if we didn't have to ship it so far.

This would save the farmer the bother of marketing and selling direct to consumers.  Sure, they wouldn't get as much as they could if they did all the work themselves, but the farmers I'm talking to seem to want to focus on farming.  Wool is a byproduct - a waste product even - of their operation.  Many don't have the time or resources to do it themselves. 

This thought experiment would work a lot better if we had a local mill.  Even better if we had a mill that could process through to finished cloth.  But that would require a customer base and with our current set-up, the finished cloth would be too expensive for the masses.  Niche market... a niche market is a start.  Niche markets are keeping the local food movement alive and local land producing food when there are so many pressures to develop the land into housing.  In Canada, clothing is very expensive due to tariffs and other things.  A shirt I could buy in the UK for 40P (about $1) would cost at least $10 here.  A shirt that is $2 in the US costs about $25 here.  The general population is already used to paying more for clothing.  We also have a strong local food movement on the coast. 


The video above talks about how we can repair the soil with wool production.  Wearing wool can be like wearing a carbon sink - growing a wool sweater could have a negative carbon footprint.
She also shows the plan and roadmap for the mill.  It seems important to grow demand before it is possible to build and run this mill sustainably.

So it's a chicken and egg problem.
- building demand
- building relationships with the farmers
- sourcing the materials
- working with a mill.

Which comes first?  Chicken?  Egg?

I say egg.
dinosaurs lay eggs and they were hear long before chickens.

 
Drew Moffatt
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Just so you know the majority of sheep in NZ are bred for meat, only a small percentage of farms produce high quality merino. All our wool is scoured in China now and then made into clothes and sent back, on the labels it has "designed in NZ made in China".
I would like to see how you guys do your shearing, I think it's quite different to how we do it with 3+ shearers a wool handler for each shearer and a guy just pressing and filling pens.
Wool is skirted and separated either on the board while shearing or on a sorting table which is railed so that the "pieces" fall through. The wool is then pressed by the presser into 200kg bales. Wool is generally sorted into fleece, necks, bellies, cribs, 1st pieces, 2nd pieces and and anther half dozen variations on those like colour, length  and cotting(felting).
The wool pays its way and not much else here unfortunately.
 
r ranson
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Wool is generally sorted into fleece, necks, bellies, cribs, 1st pieces, 2nd pieces and and anther half dozen variations on those like colour, length  and cotting(felting).


Is it sorted at the mill or at skirting time?
 
r ranson
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here's a bit of information on preparing wool for sending put out by our 'local' wool co-op.  By local, the nearest branch is about 24 hours drive, two mountain ranges and a boat ride away from me. 

Apparently, they have wool depots where one can drop off wool.  It will then be graded and the farmer will receive a check for the amount.  I'm still learning what happens next, but this kind of thing looks like there is already a system in place for farmers to get some money for their wool.  If this system works, then it might be something I could become a part of.  If it doesn't work... which I'm wondering if this is the case as people aren't using it... why isn't it working?  Where does the wool go?  Why don't I see any wool products from them for sale in my local shops?

This seems to be a huge rabbit hole.

The more I look into this, the more I feel I need to discover what's already in place.  What is working and what isn't. 

 
Drew Moffatt
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Here's a little clip from an nz shed, you can see them sorting/skirting it on the table and the the guy using a hydraulic press to make it into bales. These guys in the clip are pretty chill it gets pretty intense sometimes.


Oops it helps if I add the link
 
Dale Hodgins
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My cousin in Ontario makes things from wool. Her husband shears quite a few of their own,  plus does shearing for others. Because the wool has no market value, it is his to keep. He often does two cuttings on the same animal. He will go over the outer wool and cut off badly soiled and tangled areas,  before the final shearing. In this way, he is able to bring home stuff that has been at least partially graded and cleaned.

Just about everyone in his region, are raising sheep for meat.
 
Amit Enventres
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This has been driving me crazy. You all are saying the wool has no market value, but I see wool pillows online for $80! Can we get an estimate of how much time it would take to shear, clean, and sew this $80 pillow? Is it 8 hours/ pillow? I feel like I must be missing SOMETHING!
 
Casie Becker
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Amit Enventres wrote:This has been driving me crazy. You all are saying the wool has no market value, but I see wool pillows online for $80! Can we get an estimate of how much time it would take to shear, clean, and sew this $80 pillow? Is it 8 hours/ pillow? I feel like I must be missing SOMETHING!


This is not my area, but just for starters that list is missing out the initial cost of the sheep, ongoing medical care, fencing, in most climates some kind of housing, time and money to manage foliage for feed and to avoid hazards, ect), mortgage, rent, and/or taxes on the land used, costs for marketing your product, cost for transporting your product. These are just off the top of my head, though. There are probably more things I don't know about that someone with livestock will add.
 
Todd Parr
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Here is the opinion of someone that knows absolutely nothing about cloth, sheep, knitting, yarn, fleece, blah, blah.  In other words, an ordinary consumer.  I have had two experiences with wool.  One was in the military when they gave us wool blankets.  These things could be used to sand a deck.  They itched so bad I would use two sets of sheets in case one slid down, there was a chance this horrible vile stuff would not touch my skin and leave me itchy and rashed for days.  To this day, I can't touch a sweater, no matter what material it's made of, because it reminds me of wool.  The other experience is with my Darn Tough socks.  These things are like heaven on your feet and are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn.  They wear forever and never stretch out and I love them.  There are $20 a pair.  If you want to see the woolen industry rise from the ashes, convince someone like me that shudders at hearing the word "wool" that there is a way to make things feel as good as Darn Tough socks, and that those blankets that could only have come straight from the bowels of hell are not what wool normally feels like.  Convince me that you can make something that feels and wears as good as the socks and won't cost me $200 for a shirt, and you will have a customer for life.  Hopefully that means you will get a fair price for your wool.
 
Travis Johnson
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Amit Enventres wrote:This has been driving me crazy. You all are saying the wool has no market value, but I see wool pillows online for $80! Can we get an estimate of how much time it would take to shear, clean, and sew this $80 pillow? Is it 8 hours/ pillow? I feel like I must be missing SOMETHING!


Supply and demand. There is a SMALL market for wool pillows, but there is not a HUGE market for wool pillows.

Up until the 1970's in Maine there was plenty of woolen mills and plenty of sheep to keep them in wool. Now all but one woolen mill is closed and most sheep producers are raising small flocks of sheep for the crafting market, not for commercial production.

It is like a dairy cow, sure you can save money by not feeding it grain, but once it starts to lose milk production, it is VERY hard to get that production back. It is hard to restart an entire industry again. To do so with the woolen industry you would have to convince consumers my sheep want their wool off every year, and that it is far better to wear wool then clothing that has been pumped out of the ground from half way around the world. Then we would have to convince investors that a new woolen mill really could make a go of it, and a community somewhere that a woolen mill is okay to have in their back yard. Then and only then would sheep farmers supply the wool because there was a demand for it.

I think we could be on the cusp of that though. If I had the money, I would put up a woolen mill, that is how convinced I am that there is a future in it.
 
r ranson
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Todd Parr wrote:Here is the opinion of someone that knows absolutely nothing about cloth, sheep, knitting, yarn, fleece, blah, blah.  In other words, an ordinary consumer.  I have had two experiences with wool.  One was in the military when they gave us wool blankets.  These things could be used to sand a deck.  They itched so bad I would use two sets of sheets in case one slid down, there was a chance this horrible vile stuff would not touch my skin and leave me itchy and rashed for days.  To this day, I can't touch a sweater, no matter what material it's made of, because it reminds me of wool.  The other experience is with my Darn Tough socks.  These things are like heaven on your feet and are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn.  They wear forever and never stretch out and I love them.  There are $20 a pair.  If you want to see the woolen industry rise from the ashes, convince someone like me that shudders at hearing the word "wool" that there is a way to make things feel as good as Darn Tough socks, and that those blankets that could only have come straight from the bowels of hell are not what wool normally feels like.  Convince me that you can make something that feels and wears as good as the socks and won't cost me $200 for a shirt, and you will have a customer for life.  Hopefully that means you will get a fair price for your wool.


Great post!

1) itchy wool. 

Some wool is processed in a chemical-heavy way that can leave a really nasty reaction on the skin.  Small mills don't do this and most large mills don't either, but a couple of really large mills do.  They have a chemical to deslove the vegetable matter, a chemical to clean the wool, an oil to make it easy to card, another oil to make it easy to spin on the big machines, another chemical to make it easy to weave, any dyes they might use, and often fire retardant chemicals (even though wool is naturally fire retardant).  All this stuff makes wool feel more coarse and scratchy then it needs to.  I think these few factories have shot themselves in the foot as their end product has turned thousands of people away from wool.  My theory is maybe 10% of the people who feel they are allergic to wool are actually allergic to it.  They are actually reacting to some of the processing chemicals.

There are MANY mills around that work with fewer chemicals and produce a high-quality product.  There are even mills around that produce environmentally friendly wool.  OEKO-TEX provides certifications and standards for ecologically-safe clothing.

2) socks.

those socks sound amazing.  Wool can be strong and durable.  We just have to choose the right wool for the purpose and treat it well at every stage of its production - from managing the soil in the pasture through to marketing.


3) marketing a quality product

We need the demand to start creating a quality product like darn tough socks.  We need the quality product to be out there to produce the demand.  Once the cycle gets going, it will be self-feeding, but how to get it going?  Chicken?  Egg?  Catch 22? 

I will easily spend large sums of money on something if I know it will last me a long time.  heck, there's even a thread about that.  But I have to know it's going to last a long time. 

 
Amit Enventres
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I appreciate the factoring of raisng sheep and the supply and demand comment, but that doesn't give me any real numbers. If I can clean 10 pillows worth of wool in 2 hours, sew them into pillows in another 2 hours, and theoretically sell them for $25 then I can make $60/hr, which I can then split 50/50 with the animal care taker. I assume that probably comes out to about  $24/ lb of wool, and a good price for everyone. So tell me why those numbers won't work out. How long does it really take to clean wool? Is $24/lb a good price for wool? What am I missing?
 
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Amit Enventres wrote:I appreciate the factoring of raisng sheep and the supply and demand comment, but that doesn't give me any real numbers. If I can clean 10 pillows worth of wool in 2 hours, sew them into pillows in another 2 hours, and theoretically sell them for $25 then I can make $60/hr, which I can then split 50/50 with the animal care taker. I assume that probably comes out to about  $24/ lb of wool, and a good price for everyone. So tell me why those numbers won't work out. How long does it really take to clean wool? Is $24/lb a good price for wool? What am I missing?


Are we just talking about wool as stuffing and commercial fabric for the cover?

How long?  It depends on the fleece.  Some take all of 10 minutes to clean and about an hour to prepare the fibre per kilo (about 45 minutes per pound - and I know the math looks screwy but smaller batches take more time than larger ones)  Others take 2 hours to clean and 10 hours to prepare (maybe 6 hours per pound).  Before this, there is sorting and skirting. 

Lumpy stuffing is not attractive, so I'm guessing the commercial stuff is carded.  This is probably done on the big drum carders.  Home carding is done with a hand crank which takes longer.

A mill can do this much faster, but they have more overhead. 
 
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r ranson wrote:

I will easily spend large sums of money on something if I know it will last me a long time.  heck, there's even a thread about that.  But I have to know it's going to last a long time. 



I feel exactly the same way, and that thread is where I first heard about Darn Tough socks

I had no idea about the other stuff you posted.  I thought wool was just itchy.  The socks are made from Merino wool and I just thought it was the only soft one.  You need to be a spokesperson for this industry   I don't think most "regular" people know anything at all about wool, and that seems like the hurdle that needs to be overcome in order for wool to really take off.
 
Amit Enventres
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Ah, so I see, it's that much time is needed for the processing. Yes, I'm talking undyed cotton for the top to lower cost and look standard.

So, I looked up some processing. 3 wages in a typical washer can do about 7 lbs in 6 hours, but only like 20 minutes of your time. So, that part your talking a good deal. Water and electricity will cost, but not significantly.

Then there's the fluffing, shall we say. For a matted old pillow they say stick it in a dryer with golf balls. I wonder if a similar technique couldn't be used to create a pillow batting? You don't need the fiber organized for making string, you just need it fluffy. If this part of the process could be knocked to the same amount as cleaning, then the numbers I mentioned earlier would be a little adjusted, but still a decent wage and sale price, unless I am still missing something.
 
Amit Enventres
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Also, if not completely fluffed it can probably still be used for things like stuffed animals, dolls, super stuffed furniture cushions, dog beds, etc. Just a much smaller market there.
 
J W Richardson
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Love this thread. I am convinced that the wool industry is about to rise from the ashes, for a couple reasons. One is microplastics, and the other is that wool is rated the most sustainable fiber available. I am thinking that is is only a matter of time for sports based companies like Patagonia to start marketing woolen clothing as a response to all the shedding of microplastic from laundering fleece etc.
  Not sure if this was already mentioned, but wool is being marketed for house insulation now too.
  I love the way wool is part of an intact farm cycle, with the sheep providing multiple benefits to the farm in terms of potential pasture improvement, and fertilizer.
 
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