Campaigning for the wool……

At uni during last semester, we had to write a series of blogs for design practice. In the last task we were asked to write an essay developing one of the blogs that we had previously written. I chose to talk about sustainability in textiles because it is something we have to consider more and more these days as designers, and i think it is a really important issue. I agree that we need to find greener ways of doing things, but there is also another really big aspect to sustainability which is often over-looked. Buying Local!

You may think how does this link to sustainability, but it really does if you go back to the source, as I did with Shetland Wool.

Shetland Wool Brokers, Jamieson and Smith (www.shetlandwoolbrokers.co.uk) buy their fleece from over 700 Shetland Crofters! How great is that. Buying fleece from the locals ensures the wool is 100% Shetland, and more importantly puts money back into the Shetland economy. If we, as designers in Shetland, then buy the wool, we are also putting money back into our economy by buying from our local producers. And then if locals buy our products…the cycle continues.

My aim of the essay was to think about creating Shetland products, using the Shetland sustainable fibre, and taking sustainability, the social responsibility side, into consideration.
Creating fabrics using Shetland wool, would promote the luxury fibre’s name that Shetland wool has associated with it. It boasts to be soft, strong and warm, and is hand sorted into grades. Like the ‘Made in Britain’ campaign, where products are promoted because they are made wholy in the UK, ‘Made in Shetland’ could have the same effect and this would ideally be the unique selling point of any product designed and made in Shetland.

While I was home in the Christmas holidays, I had a week to prepare and weave the fabric I had planned for the next part of the Farlin Project.  I made a visit to my friend Ella who works at Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick, to pick up some Shetland wool.

I will stop now and say that I usually weave with cotton, or a combination of wool and cotton…and that I haven’t actually used Shetland wool to weave with before. (Terrible I know!!!) Im not sure why this is, I think its because I usually prefer my fabrics to be sett quite tightly, and I seem have only noticed a number of things about Shetland I feel more strongly about now that I am away from the Island but I was more than keen to use Shetland wool for the next part of the Farlin Project and I will be using it again!!
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Soft, and lovely when washed and pressed, I cant explain how nice the fabric is to touch. Sett as outerwear fabric, I am so pleased with the outcome, and I cant wait to weave with Shetland wool again. Colours inspired by the Shetland landscape, sky and sea….the story behind the fabric will be posted on here, along with the final product nearer the StAnza Poetry Festival which takes place in St. Andrews in March.

I am so pleased that I researched into using Shetland wool, and I cant believe how important it is to use wool, and especially us from Shetland to use our local producers. The ‘campaign for wool’ (www.campaignforwool.org) of which the Prince of Wales is patron, is a global campaign to bring wool back into the limelight by highlighting wool’s natural and sustainable qualities and its importance in the textile industry to those who are involved big or small.

From here, I am hoping to use Shetland wool next year as part of my final honours year collection. By doing this, I hope to focus and weave with the wool confidently so that I can take this onto my own practice and predominantly promote Shetland wool, ‘Made in Shetland’ products along with Shetland as a place. Shetland is after all a lifestyle and a way of life…..why don’t we promote it more?

So why don’t you….”JOIN THE CAMPAIGN, LIVE NATURALLY & CHOOSE WOOL”

(……especially Shetland wool??!!)

5 thoughts on “Campaigning for the wool……

  1. Your “Buy Local!” admonition is great for all of us. I live in Northern California and have long bought fleeces at the Monterey County Fair Wool Show. There is always a wonderful array of fleeces from local breeders. It has been a magnificent learning experience for me to find out what each of the breeds of local growers has to offer and the range of differences in each breed. Not only does this help to sustain our local economy, it also helps me hone in on local options and get to know them well as opposed to sampling a little of this and a little of that from everywhere and never getting to know anything well. So you go for your Shetland and I will go for our cormo and other local sheep breeds. http://cormousa.ipower.com/blog/2012/08/monterey-wool-show/ May we and the fleece both win!

  2. Your passion for Shetland wool is coming across very strongly here and clearly you are very proud of our islands wool heritage. I am with you on this.
    I wonder if you have been out to the other Shetland wool supplier in the west side – they have some really nice woven fabrics at the mill.

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