From the Wovember Archives: Kylie Gusset on Sourcing Ethical Wool

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  1. Health – the best possible care
  2. Nutrition  – permanent access to food in its most natural state, as much as the sheep needs
  3. Behaviour  – sheep should be sheep
  4. Handling – the least amount possible in order to enable the other principles

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17 thoughts on “From the Wovember Archives: Kylie Gusset on Sourcing Ethical Wool

    1. Hiya, we have featured many posts throughout this and Wovembers past discussing wool processing in the UK and we are lucky to have several facilities here where wool can be scoured including The Natural Fibre Company and Haworth Scouring, both of which were discussed this Wovember. The main jist of this article is that you should always research your supply chain regardless of where you are located in the world.

        1. Hurrah! Yes I think I maybe misunderstood your comment – the supply chain is incredibly complicated and if there is not transparency re: a woollen product i.e. no information from the supplier about where it was spun or processed then it’s important to know that much imported Merino will have been grown either in Australia or in China and was very likely processed in China. I don’t know how many woolen goods sold in the UK have ultimately involved Chinese processing, but we do not have the same marriage between large merino farms and Chinese processing that typifies the Australian wool industry and of which Kylie speaks in this piece. As we’ve covered in several Wovember postings, small producers in the UK have access to a range of scouring and processing options that mean it’s not necessary to outsource that part of the process to China. I don’t know about the big fashion houses, nor the woollen goods sold on the High Street, and I think this piece is especially pertinent for any fibres sold as Merino here in the UK. The bottom line is that fashion is a global enterprise conducted Internationally so the only way to ensure that you are not buying goods that have involved cheap foreign labour and environmentally dubious processing is to do exactly as you are, and to keep sourcing locally!

  1. Thank you for such a wonderful and thought provoking article. I do not like PETA at all although I do agree with a lot of what they have to say I don’t agree with clumping all farmers together. I am bothered here in American with many sheep farmers who breed indiscriminately, over breed and let animals inbreed.. I don’t know how to stop that , but try to educate the people I teach to spin about these practices. I have 4 sheep all would have been put down if I had not taken them.They live a good life on the farm, their wool is carefully spun into yarn . People who buy my yarn know the sheep it came from and can visit here. I wish I could take more but can only afford what I have. I encourage my students to look around before they buy sheep. Many farmers will their sheep to an auction and be grateful for the money and not even care about what happens to them. These sheep are most times great for started flocks.
    I love What We Can Do. It makes perfect sense. Michael’s food rules is great and I will look up the 100 mile Group on Ravelry.
    We are working hard to promote local and in some areas its working.
    Again I thank you for such an interesting article.
    Carole Adams
    owner of sheep and lover of all animals.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment – what you describe and the relationship you have with your animals and with the people who buy from you is I think the very embodiment of close to farmer fibres 🙂

  2. A very good article. Here at Garthenor Organic Pure Wool we only buy organic fleeces from certified organic British farms. They are then spun at a certified organic mill in Britain in small batches. Consequently we can trace the origin of all our organic wool products.

  3. Thanks for posting the truth about China. They and India produce far more pollution than the rest of the world. Even so, it’s great to find out about local sources so we can “do our bit” to leave our children and grandchildren a cleaner environment while helping our local farmers and industry.

    I’ve been told most “superwash” comes from China. Given China’s record of selling baby and pet food products containing harmful chemicals, I wonder what dangerous things they use in the “superwash” process?

  4. An absolute cracker of a post, tackling hefty issues with accessible aplomb! The guide drawn from Michael Pollan’s approach to sustainable food choices is practical and pertinent. This would make a great Wovember pledge to be revisited and repledged every Wovember. I would pledge!

  5. Wonderful article and informative. The piece to this puzzle that consumers need to think about..is the economics of it all. As a society here in the states…many small producers such as myself struggle to compete with the Wal-Mart mentality. Americans have gotten used to not paying much for goods. The reality of a small producer is that the skeins of yarn and the end products like locally produced socks will cost more. But what you are getting of course is an ethically and locally produced product…with superior quality and made with breed specific wool not found in mass production. The challenge is education of the consumer. But not PETA style…an organizations that wants to trash all animal farming as exploitive. Wool is very necessary and there is no man made product that comes close to the quality of wool.

    1. Absolutely. I also maintain that education is the key, and I mean in schools. To do that, we have to educate and train the teachers and also parents. When I was a teenager in Britain in the early sixties – I was in a girls’ grammar school – we had cookery and needlework lessons. Ok, in the sixties nylon & co were big, but we learnt how to be thrifty, how to use up leftovers (mum did that, anyway) and how to repair clothes. Wouldn’t that be good these days?

  6. Such an eye opener.
    It’s such a shocking, dishonest and greedy world we live in! One person can do a weeny bit, but it’s depressing how destructive the few are, making millions off the backs of poor workers.

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