Strong wool has won plenty of media spotlight of late. While prices remain abysmal at present, the creativity being shown on new uses for this natural and sustainable fibre bodes well for better returns to farmers in the future.
Federated Farmers co-ordinated some of the established and new players in strong wool for a ‘wool is cool’ display at the Primary Industries Summit in Christchurch in July. The properties and uses of wool appear to be endless, with new ideas being developed all the time….
Christchurch company Exquisite Wool Blankets has been in the wool business basically since it began in New Zealand. They produce fabrics for furnishings, clothes, royal and military ceremonial dress, snooker and pool table cloth and even burial caskets are being produced from strong wool – and if that’s not for ewe, woollen cremation vessels are also a thing.
As innovators Woolchemy have pointed out, one cup of crude oil is required to make a single disposable nappy. Do the maths on a global scale – and also take into account predictions there will be more plastic by volume in our oceans than fish by 2050.
Woolchemy CEO Derelee Potroz-Smith says the company is focused on developing sustainable eco-logical textiles for everything from healthcare to aerospace – and that includes incorporating wool fibre into nappies and other single-use hygiene products.
“There’s no greater urgency for sustainable, renewable materials than now,” Derelee says. “We can use intelligent wool to replace fossil-fuel derived synthetics in everyday products.”
A lot of companies now are trying to promote wool in schools, and thanks to start ups like the sheeps back we’ve got a bit of a knitting revival going on among pupils. The sheeps’ back supplies kits to schools so that kids can knit their first square, and hopefully pick up a truly sustainable life skill.
Also on display at the Summit was woollen work wear, and of particular interest was the Hi Vis PPE available to the electrical industry which requires a CAL rating. As most of us are aware wool does not conduct electricity which makes it a logical choice for farmers and anyone working near electricity, such as linesman. We think that Jaeden should be the first choice of the electrical industry, any other industries grappling with fire risk.
Ashfords are based in Ashburton, and are major suppliers of spinning wheels and all things wool. If you take a look at their website, you’ll see that not only do they ship all over New Zealand, but they have a huge library of free tutorials on knitting, spinning, felting, dyeing, weaving, and carding.
A shout out also to other innovators and movers/shakers in the strong wool space, such as Bremworth’s mills, which have transitioned to wool-only carpets and rugs; Honest Wolf, who create lovely New Zealand wool and leather bags; and South Wairarapa regenerative sheep and beef station Palliser Ridge, where the family owners are now producing a stunning range of wool blankets, garments and knitting supplies.