Wool, and more wool

Before we get to more wool roving acquired at the MSWF, a word about wool (what else?). Whilst trolling the internet, I recently stumbled across a story from Great Britain from January.

At one time, there was a saying: “Half of the wealth of England rides on the backs of sheep.” This was during the time of Henry VIII. When Henry dissolved the monasteries and seized their land, he also seized what was on their land, including the sheep. Henry’s treasury was not in good shape, so no doubt the value of the seized sheep was much appreciated. I often wished I had stumbled on this concept when I was thinking up topics for my Master’s thesis, but I digress.

In any event, the wealth of England historically was in the wool industry and that has fallen on hard times in the 20th and 21st Century. Enter Prince Charles, the fellow who gave his wife two Cotswold sheep for her 60th birthday, a gesture that I, for one, would certainly swoon over! (I particularly like Cotswolds!) Charles again has proved himself champion of the British sheep by supporting a new initiative: The Wool Project:

The Prince of Wales launches the Wool Project

26th January 2010

The Prince of Wales will launch a new initiative aimed at increasing demand for British and Commonwealth wool today. ‘The Wool Project’ will see diverse groups from across the wool sector including textile designers, the carpet and fashion industries work together to improve public awareness of the benefits of this sustainable product.

The Prince of Wales, a long time supporter of upland hill farmers, has long been concerned about the low prices farmers have been receiving for their fleeces. In February 2009 His Royal Highness convened a meeting at Clarence House of representatives of wool producers, the fashion, retail and carpet industries, textile designers and the fire service to see how the problem could be addressed.

Wool grower organisations from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand and others, including Marks and Spencer, will launch a consumer facing campaign in the Autumn that will communicate the advantages of wool to the general public.

‘The Wool Project’ Chairman and Director, Pastoral Alliance (NSA) John Thorley said, “Wool is a sustainable, natural product – the production of which involves far lower carbon emissions than man-made fibres. It is perfect for domestic use as a natural insulator and is naturally fire retardant. We are delighted that The Prince of Wales has helped bring us all together to communicate its many benefits to the public, and help improve the market for sheep farmers across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.”

Note that in the royal press release above, there is no mention of the yarn industry that keeps us knitters duly supplied. I tracked down the fellow who appears to be duly responsible for The Wool Project and sent him an e-mail, appealing for the knitters and handspinners to be well supplied with British wool. Who are better cheerleaders for wool, especially British wool? Or Australian? Or New Zealand? Most handspinners I know would gladly lie, cheat, and kill for a raw New Zealand fleece!

What can we do to help further the cause of British wool, Mr. Thorley?

Stay tuned for an answer!

In the meantime, here are two more finds from Maryland Sheep and Wool. Note that these are BEAUTIFULLY packaged, with the vendor’s name prominently displayed. I learned alot about proper packaging on this outing!

This is the one on the left, “Lilac”:

And the one on the right is called “Pin Oak”:

I love this color!  I just bought 3 coopworth fleeces, two colored and one white, so while I am waiting to get them processed, I can enjoy spinning these.

Today’s rovings lovingly packaged by Winter’s Past Farm, www.winterspastfarm.com.

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