You may already know how our love for wool fabric started and what led to the creation of The Wool Company. It was a mission to reduce our carbon footprint and our heating bill while keeping our children’s feet warm that led to us designing our Kid Mohair Explorer children’s socks.
They were made with the very first shearing of our own herd of Angora goats and were the catalyst for a business and personal passion for natural fibres.
We know we’re not alone in our love of wool, our fervour for sustainability, or our endeavours to spread the love for wool. Whether you wear wool, dress and furnish your home with wool products, work with wool fabric, or knit with ethically sourced wool, the community of wool advocates is growing, globally.
Our favourite wool fabric fans
If you receive our weekly email newsletter, you’ll have spotted our regular feature celebrating how someone else, somewhere in the world is championing wool and the benefits of wool fabric. So we thought it time to collate our favourite wool advocates in one place, so you can have a mooch at their wool skills more easily.
Here in the UK there are two particular wool advocates to give a little love to. British Wool not only extols the virtues of wool for consumers and where to buy British wool fabrics, it also provides useful information for sheep farmers, manufacturers and traders. But most excitingly has an educational element for schools to introduce the many uses of wool to future generations.
We also doff our woollen beanies to HRH Prince of Wales’ Campaign for Wool. His royal clout has nudged many a wool collaboration as well as persuaded many a consumer on the joys of wool in everyday life. Most recently the campaign came to Cornwall with its Wool Beach Lodge, which showcased the latest innovations in the use of wool.
It would be remiss of us not to mention Woolmark in this round-up. Recall that woven yarn logo on your Dad’s jumper as a kid? That’s the Woolmark logo and believe it or not, they’re the global authority on wool. And they’re based in Australia. We like to think we know a lot about wool - they’re definitely allowed to play one-up with us! Connecting and protecting the wool fabric supply chain, spot the Woolmark symbol on your product and you’ll know it’s entirely traceable from its Australian farm to where you bought it, wherever that may be in the world.
Naturally, we love British wool. And we are humbled to have some of the oldest and highest quality wool manufacturers amongst our suppliers.
For more than 235 years John Atkinson blankets have been part of the Yorkshire economy and been keeping families warm the world over. Made on the UK’s widest looms using the finest quality fleeces from Australasia and China, their dedication to quality wool blankets is second to none.
A little further south, in Nottingham, G.H. Hurt has been creating the finest Nottinghamshire lace since Edwardian times. Cleverly, their process combines the handframe machines designed in the 1500s with modern loom technology. The result, the very best christening shawls today and every day, whatever the decade.
Across in Pembrokeshire, Melin Tregwynt woollen mill has been spinning yarn since the 1600s. Since 1912 it has meandered through three generations of a family passionate about the conservation of wool fabric and production of quality wool blankets. We love that you can pop in and see how its done, their way - and have a cuppa while you’re there.
Our favourite wool-preneurs range from surfers fed up of the winter chill to mums wanting natural products against their babies skin and innovative thinkers looking for a solution to fast fashion and the ironing pile.
Global wool trade
People often chuckle at the fact that there are more sheep than people in New Zealand, yet China tops the rankings for most sheep worldwide and some four to five times more sheep than Aotearoa. Australia rolls in second but is the highest producer of wool fabric in the world with New Zealand coming in fourth.
So it should come as no surprise that the Kiwis have been doing great stuff with wool for decades. Icebreaker is probably one of their best known wool brands, which has been creating Merino wool activewear since 1995. Hats off to founder Jeremy Moon for taking on the challenge of convincing a 1990s convenience-focused world to revert to the natural fibres of wool fabric and more recently on banning the mulesing of sheep.
A more recent New Zealand wool innovation targeted our feet. If you haven’t been hit with some form of marketing from Allbirds, you’ll love it when it happens. Bemused as to how the use of wool fabric stretched only to clothes and not to footwear, Tim Brown went in search of a solution. Combining nature’s finest fabric (ok, we’re biased) to make possibly the 21st century’s first wool shoes and delivering them in recycled shoe boxes is just the beginning. When you’re done with yours, they’ll ship them to someone in the world who needs shoes more than you, courtesy of Soles4Souls. How’s that for all round feel good.
Over the USA come 2013, Mac Bishop got fed up with fashion and a materialistic culture. In his mission to encourage us to own less stuff and own it for longer, he turned his frustration to innovate with wool fabric. Fixated on reducing the washing, ironing, and wear and tear of shirts he created Wool & Prince to encourage Americans to dress and live more sustainably.
There’s also one very special wool initiative happening in the Netherlands that warms our hearts. Wolwaeren is the brainchild of Roland Pieter Smit who was dumbstruck at the downfall of the Dutch wool industry and inspired by the simplicity of a geographical connection. The island of Texel is both the home of Dutch wool and of a care centre for adults with special needs. Bringing them together he has designed looms specifically for autistic and Down’s Syndrome people to work on, to use the thickness of yarn that each respectively works best with. The result is a range of fabulous blankets and rugs celebrating the best of Dutch craftmanship.
Great British wool
On our doorstep here in the South West of England, Tom Kay started Finisterre in 2003 to improve clothing for surfers. Even a sea-hardened UK surfer relishes warmth and comfort and Tom used wool from the very start. He has also been instrumental in establishing a breed of sheep producing merino quality wool in the UK. His work with Lesley Prior and the Bowmont flock is a great British merino wool story.
Across the county border in Devon, SolidWool is working up a wool interiors innovation. Combining wool with bio-resins to make furniture that is less impactful on the environment, we’re watching with eyes wide to see how their process continues to evolve.
We could harp on about the benefits of wool for babies until the flock needs feeding and so we’re a little bit in love with an eco-friendly kids clothing brand in South London. Piupia cares not only about the environment but also about putting the most natural products against our children’s skin and yes, you guessed it, their product range includes some wool baby clothes too.
Isn’t it great when an individual champions something they’re passionate about and runs with it? In fact, look back at all the brands and organisations we’ve blown wool kisses to above and you’ll see that pretty much all of them started with one person’s idea to do something better and do it with wool.
That brings us to Merino Rocks, the online journal of Caro and Tom who love merino wool and the great outdoors - preferably together. With a US slant you’ll typically find yourself on American websites from their wool clothing recommendations but there’s also usually a UK or European option once you’re there. From merino facts to merino fashion tips, it’s all here, tried and tested.
Talking of individuals, are you one of Wool and the Gang? This ingenious idea combines the glorious benefits of wool with the joyous benefits of knitting. Sticking two fingers up to fast fashion and putting quality wool fashion into the hands of knitters worldwide, you can knit your own clothes or knit clothes for others while being part of this fabulous flock. Join the gang.
Yes, we’re suckers for wool socks but we fell head over heels for these British wool lined boots from UrbanBosk. Ready for the stuck record moment...? That wool will keep your toes toasty when you need it and wick away excess moisture once you’ve walked across town.
Who or which is your favourite wool advocate? Leave us a comment below.
Notes from the Village
Our local farm shop, Village Greens, is a not-for-profit, run by lovely people to serve our local community on Bodmin Moor. They provide local and organic produce, fabulous cooked breakfasts and great company in our sometimes lonely bucolic idyll. We love what they do for our community, we love their gorgeous cakes and produce and want to share their weekly newsletter. In it Di provides beautiful and amusing insights into modern organic smallholding and farming life. Come and join us on Friday mornings if you can - bring a shopping bag too, but in the meantime, sit back, read on and enjoy...
The old dog has persisted in going AWOL for days now. It's obvious there's something very interesting somewhere in a wild corner. The Interesting Thing has probably been deceased for a while, and is likely to be the remains of the deer whose leg bone he proudly presented me with two days ago. There ensued a power struggle between the two dogs over who was in charge of said bone. It was eventually divided into more than one piece, to avoid further debate.
Meanwhile, one of the sheep decided it was time to stage an escape and evasion exercise, so Sunday afternoon was spent trying and failing to coax her to come back the same way. She ended up having wheeled transport all the way, starting off in a wheelbarrow through my obliging neighbour's garden, then loaded into the trailer and towed home, only to make another bid for freedom the following day. By then I had already blocked part of her exit, so her efforts were frustrated, but it's only a matter of time before she forms another cunning plan. I will endeavour to remain one step ahead of her at all times.
Lots of great fruit and veggies at the shop this week, including cherry tomatoes, summer greens, early leeks, red peppers, butternut squash, watermelon and peaches. We're trying hard to reduce packing, please bring along your own containers for any of your shopping if you can.
We offer a brilliant wholesale ordering service. The orders are placed once a fortnight, you can get anything except frozen goods from our catalogue, which has thousands of products, and there is only a 5% charge on the wholesale cost, making us very competitive price wise, even with the big supermarkets. Changing your shopping habits in order to reduce car travel is a simple way of doing your bit to combat climate change. Come and have a chat with us if you'd like to give it a go.
The cafe will be open from 9am, serving hot drinks, breakfasts, pancakes and smoothies. The soup is cream of tomato, available from around midday, with freshly baked bread.
See you there