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Seems Hope has been on my mind a lot these past few months. Lately I’ve been trying to decide what colour ‘Hope’ might look like – a lush shade of green maybe? Mostly, I have found that re-engaging with my yarn stash (I desperately need to finish spinning it, even if it’s over 30 years old, yikes!) is the meditation that feels right for me right now - it manages to gently settle and focus my soul. I don’t know about you, but ‘Hope’ is beginning to feel more attainable… Nancy Ballesteros

WOOL 2030 - A Quick Summary

sheepflock.GreatSouthern
The Australian Wool Innovations (AWI) recently released a very interesting report about the driving forces behind the global supply and demand of wool. The report tracks wool’s past, present and future performance as a global textile fibre.

Below, I’ve put together a quick summary of the report’s relevant points. It could shed some light on what type of wool product you could be creating for the future and how to best market it.

GLOBAL WOOL PRODUCTION:
Global wool production peaked in the late1980’s and has since fallen by more than 60%. A further 2.4% decline is expected in 2020 due to drought in both Australia and South Africa. The decline has mainly been felt in the global production of Merino wool for apparel end use, rather than for interior textiles. All seven major Merino producing countries have recorded a similar percentage decline. Australia dominates the world production of superfine wool, with an estimated share of 84%.

PRODUCTION OF COMPETING FIBRES
While world wool production has fallen further in recent years, world production of other fibres continues to grow. Synthetic staple fibres (such as polyester staple and acrylic) and of cellulosic fibres has increased strongly in the past two decades. Wool cannot compete in volumes with these fibres; therefore, it must compete in product quality and fibre attributes. Currently, wool costs about 5 times more than synthetics and 6 times more than cotton.

DRIVERS OF PRICE
Demand for wool is at the mercy of macro-forces which are largely outside the control and influence of wool producers. Consumer demand for wool products is influenced by local economic conditions, fashion trends, retail prices and competition from products of other fibres, as well as marketing.”
“… Wool prices reached record levels in August 2018 as a result of a Merino wool supercycle, which was due to a combination of synchronised world economic growth, growing demand for Merino wool in activewear and low Merino wool supply. This came to an inevitable end, triggered by the US-China trade war and, more recently, the health and economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Collectively 65% of the world apparel wool consumption comes from these 8 countries: China, USA, Japan, Italy, Germany, South Korea, UK and France.” Economic growth and consumer incomes in these major wool consuming countries are now the key forces behind the demand for wool.

CONSUMER TRENDS
Post COVID-19 global fashion industry forecasts are now predicted to contract around 30% in 2020.
There is now a growing demand for sustainable and long-lasting value-for-money apparel solutions from consumers. Fundamentally consumers are supporting more companies that champion values such as climate change and ethical practices. This shift in consumer values will impact every facet of the apparel industry. "A ‘less but better’ approach to fashion will increase consideration for luxury and long-lasting fabrics such as wool.”

“Across society, there is an ongoing trend of casualisation and prioritisation of comfort for work and home dressing… A desire for easy, comfortable dressing will spur on demand for fine-gauge worsted Merino yarns and soft lambswool qualities particularly with easy-care applications."

Sleep and skin health will provide opportunities for superfine Merino as a therapeutic treatment. “AWI expects to see sports brands embrace Merino’s properties of moisture wicking, breathability, odour resistance and biodegradability to update styles with a natural performance marketing angle.”

“Wool’s inherent eco-credentials – natural, renewable, biodegradable – perfectly position the fibre as a more sustainable choice for interior spaces, its many benefits are its commercial selling point. These include its fire resistance, resilience, easy care, and wellness attributes, such as temperature regulation during sleep and air purification ability – with science showing wool carpets can in fact improve indoor air quality.”

WOOL 2030 –A STRATEGIC PLAN FOR AUSTRALIAN WOOLGROWERS. DISCUSSION PAPER 1:
WOOL SUPPLY AND DEMAND,MAY 2020. Australian Wool Innovations Limited, AUTHORS: Chris Wilcox, Poimena Analysis. Laura Armstrong, General Manager Marketing, Communications, AWI. Scott Williams, Forest Hill Consulting. Russell Pattinson, Miracle Dog.
photos: Great Southern Region, Western Australia by Nancy Ballesteros
GreatSouthernSheep

DID YOU KNOW... Wool absorbs and 'locks away' odours. It's unique chemical structure enables wool to bind odours within the fibre where bacteria do not thrive. This enables the garment to remain fresher for longer and requires less washing.

NEW STITCH FOR FELT SEAMS

Stitched Nuno Seam FB
Upon nuno felting a queen-size bed throw during COVID lockdown, necessity called for a joining stitch that would securely hold the two large pieces of felt together. The stitch needed to not add bulk to the seam and be very flexible. Not happy with any existing joining stitch I knew, I embarked on exploring new stitch ideas. Thus the ‘Laced Up Feather Stitch’ was hatched. This stitch also works well when joining solid felt to nuno or two solid felt pieces together.

Most people who stitch would probably already be familiar with the Feather Stitch. I loved it’s decorative aspect, plus the variety of ways that it could look depending on the type of thread, angle of the stitches, and spacing of the stitches (great to explore these elements!). However, the Feather stitch alone did not hold the felt edges together securely enough; hence, I decided to ‘Lace Up’ the back of the stitch to give the reverse side more stability. This worked a treat! For complete video instructions Click Here.
Feather Stitch Insta
Feather Stitch Insta Back

CREATING FELT WITH STRETCH

Blanket,Full.Drape.by.Rock.10.49.11.CUSTOM.INSTA
Insta Stretchy Felt Layout
Here are a few quick and easy instructions for creating a flexible and stretchy piece of Nuno felt.
Click Here to watch our video for further instructions.
  • Lay down your wool tops in a Diagonal pattern, also known as a Herringbone layout.
  • When laying down the wool note that the THICK END of wool is held with your thumb and fingers and the THIN END is the splayed (drafted) end of the wool.
  • The trick is to Lay the THICK END of the wool on top of THIN END, always at right angles.
  • Your aim is to create one even layer of wool.
  • Fill in any remaining areas as needed, particularly along the edges.
  • Felt as normal.
The instructions in the video are shown using a Left handed layout. See the diagram if you are right handed.

RIPPED SILK FABRIC THREAD

This is a fabulous way to make your own thread and create a unique signature stitch for your project. You will never be without the correct colour of thread to match your project again! Click Here to watch a short video on how to create your own Ripped Silk Fabric Thread.
  1. Various types of lightweight Silk fabric (4.5momme – 6.5momme) will work. Each fabric brings a slightly different quality to your stitch. Experiment with Paj, Pongee, Habotai or Chiffon. My favorite is 5 momme Paj.
  2. You will be tearing the fabric from selvedge to selvedge.
  3. Measure up the edge of the fabric approximately 1-2cm (1/2-3/4 inch) depending on how wide you would like your thread.
  4. Make a 1-2cm snip (0.5-1inch) into the fabric.
  5. Now tear the fabric to the other selvedge edge.
  6. Cut through the selvedge with scissors.
  7. If sewing into felt, I suggest using a large Glover’s needle (with a triangular head) or a Sailmakers needle. These needles will help to pierce the felt and leave a large enough hole to pull through the ripped silk thread.
  8. After making a couple of stitches your thread will begin to pull through more easily. Make sure you hold the tail of the thread out of the way because it can easily become entangled while stitching. Yes, the extra bits of frayed threads that keep coming off can be annoying, but its a small price to pay for a gorgeous stitch!
  9. Your stitch will not look perfect until you iron it, this transformation can be amazing!
Silk.Thread.115035.CUSTOM
Needles.11.56.27

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