Hardcore Luxury® -- Always 100% USA

Blog 2024

WeatherWool news and topics of interest.
BLOG entries by Ralph unless otherwise noted. Feedback welcome!
If there is anything you'd like addressed here, please let me know.
THANKS FOR BEING HERE!
-- Ralph@WeatherWool.com / 973-943-3110 (mobile)

 

2024-06-11 ... Batch Innes-1
We are delighted and proud to announce a new wrinkle in the sourcing of our Fabric.  Our recent methods of manufacture, begun with Batch 9, will not change.  But for the first time, coming in 2025, we will offer a Fabric Batch made entirely from fiber from a single Ranch.  Batch Innes-1 will be 100% sourced from the Innes Ranch of Gillette Wyoming.

We have been pinpointing the source of our fiber since 2018, and this information has been on our website for years.  But our company's growth has opened manufacturing possibilities that were not available to us when we were a smaller company.

It is normal for America's Sheep Ranchers to completely lose track of their wool once it has been sold.  The wool is basically gone without a trace, and the Ranchers typically receive no feedback because the large buyers mix the wool from many sources into huge batches.

Ranchers have always appreciated that we are smaller, and that they can actually wear garments they know contains their wool.  But with Batch Innes-1, the garments will contain ONLY Innes Wool.

We need to design new Batch Tags, too, because Bob Innes has given us permission to tag the Fabric with Innes Ranch, Gillette Wyoming, and even with the legally registered and protected Innes Ranch Brands!

2024-06-07 ... Updated Website Scheduled for 17 June
As mentioned in the entry of 26 May, we have been working on a new website and we intend to launch it on Monday, 17 June, 10 days from now.  The content will be the same, but the skin and the bones will be updated.  I'll put forth a detailed description of the changes before we go live.  We are only 10 days out from the launch ...  And of course I'd much appreciate all gremlin reports!  THANKS. 

2024-06-06 ... Indoor CPO ... YouTube Audience Demographics
I just got a nice note from a woman who wears her CPO in the office because it is always COLD!  We're glad she finds the wool appropriate for work-wear!  We've certainly heard from other people who wear the wool indoors, but I think this is the first time hearing from a person who works in a "freezing office".

I have not paid as much attention to our YouTube Channel as I should.  One of many things I need to learn more about.  Alex pointed out some stats that YouTube provides us, and then Cody showed me some more detail.

We have 1770 subscribers, which is a very small number.  We need to figure out ways to get more eyeballs.  But YouTube and the social media are mostly the province of younger folks, and our customers tend to be somewhat older. 

Our most popular video, Water+Wool=Heat by TrustinTimber, had about 11,000 viewers, pretty evenly split between ages 25-34 years, 35-44 years, and 55-64 years.  It seems highly unlikely to me, tho, that nobody aged 45-54 or over 65 watched.

I guess the viewership age-range depends a lot on the subject.  Our video The Art of Pack Baskets with Jim Abbott didn't attract anyone under age 35, and the most interest, 36% of viewers, were over 65.  Maybe that's because Jim himself is over 65, and younger folks might never even have heard of Adirondack Pack Baskets.

One thing that seems like good news is that the majority of viewers are NOT subscribers.  I guess that can be taken in two ways ... it's good that we are reaching people who do not follow us ... but ... once they know about us, why don't they follow?

I'm definitely not happy that almost none of the viewers are women.  But it's not surprising.  Women are not as focused on weather-resistant clothing as are men.  And maybe more importantly, we have only just lately released our first garment, the Ladies Blanket Coat, that is specifically designed for women.

I'm really grateful for YouTube.  It's an amazing tool for us to get our name "out there", and it's a great way for people who are interested in woolens to find us, even if they don't know our name.

We need to do a lot more with the free tools of the internet!

2024-06-05 ... Worldwide Input and Even Some Help!
Since Day One of WeatherWool, I admit that I'm somewhat psycho about our 100% USA philosophy.   But I don't want any fine print or "yes-buts" or "technically/legally speaking" qualifiers.   The closest we come to non-American is in some raw materials.   For example, we use nylon zippers and thread, and it is possible the nylon is imported before being turned into the zippers and thread we use.  We sometimes use Corozo Buttons.  And although the tagua palm (source of corozo) is South American, the buttons are actually made in the USA (bugs me anyway).

On the other hand, tho, I really like a lot of other countries, and even more I really like a lot of people from many other countries.  So, I've always felt kind of bad about excluding anything or anyone simply because of the place of origin.   I'm  therefore very, very glad that we have Customers, Advisors and Partners from about 60 other countries.  We get suggestions and stories from all over the world.  In particular, Cody Bokshowan, our Creative Director (and only non-family hire), is Canadian.  Lindsay King, who is updating our entire website (to be launched this month!), is also Canadian.

2024-06-03 ... Denim Vest Design
We're working on a new design for a Vest that we'll make from our 100% Wool Denim Fabric.  In the photo is one of the Factory8 prototypes, plus Debby's sketch and notes.

  • We want to eliminate the lining on the inner back panel (tailors have to do extra work when there is no lining!)
  • The back of the Vest will be a single panel (no seam)
  • The label(s) will be down on the bottom and absolutely NOT on the back of the neck, even though the back of the neck is industry-standard label-placement
  • The front panels of the Vest will be lined with our new LightWeight Fabric.  I haven't even written yet about the LightWeight Fabric, but it is roughly half the weight of our MidWeight Fabric.  Of course, it is 100% wool.  The LightWeight is also our first 100% Worsted Fabric.  We are lining the front panels of the Vest so that we can have Pouch Pockets accessed from the outside of the Vest but still have a "clean" inside
  • We'll use a small amount of "interlining" fabric to strengthen the buttonholes
  • Debby wants a #3 zipper to secure the pockets

We'll be getting these into production soon ... hopefully to ship by end of summer.  But please give us any suggestions while we are still in the design stage!  Garry from Upstate New York will be pleased to see the lapels!

2024-06-02 ... Origins
Alex found an interesting video about the countries of manufacture and of origin of the materials in a pair of cotton denim bluejeans.

It's a very short video with some interesting info.  I'm not familiar with the source, and I'm not vouching for the accuracy of all the info.  For example, I'm sure the typical pair of jeans is worn much, much more than the 7 times they say is the typical lifespan of a garment.  But I do think it's good to realize how global so much garment production has become.

WeatherWool is always 100% USA.

2024-05-31 ... Out of Town and Goodbye May!
I'll be out of town with school-days friends until Sunday night.  Holy cow! ... Known these guys for well over 50 years!  We were much better card players when we were 20 ... We have all crossed into our 70s now and it's true that inside every old person is a young person wondering WHAT HAPPENED?

The more years under your belt, the faster time passes.  But I bet almost everyone will be surprised to think we are nearly halfway through 2024.  And for WeatherWool, October is tomorrow!

2024-05-30 ... US Congressional Primary ... Lake Trout Short Video
Yesterday I went onto YouTube to play a song and YouTube somehow figured I'd want to know that my friend and WeatherWool owner (2%) Lew Webb is trying for a seat in the United States Congress from the 3rd Congressional District in Colorado!  Here is Lew's intro-video on YouTube.  I'd love to have Lew as my Congressman!  He's got to climb over a dozen other Republicans in the upcoming primary ... Click to visit Lew's website.  I've known Lew for 20 years and if I didn't trust and respect him he would definitely not be part of WeatherWool!

Cody and I were in Vermont in October, mostly to hunt moose (no moose for me) but we had a great morning (and shore lunch) fishing for Lake Trout with Nate Shover.  THANKS NATE!!  And Thanks for the video, Cody!

2024-05-29 ... WeatherWool Certified Fine Wool
This is an update of the entry of May 23rd.  I updated the page that details WeatherWool Certified Fine Wool.

The necessity for labeling of our garments has compelled us to come up with a short and sweet description of what we are about.

This is the label we'll sew into our Denim garments.  The last line may instead read WeatherWool FullWeight or WeatherWool MidWeight or WeatherWool LightWeight.

I wanted the label to convey that we are always 100% American, and that was pretty easy.  But what is the garment made of?  I have invented the term WeatherWool Certified Fine Wool because there was really no simple way to say what we are about.

Our Certification encompasses a whole lot of detail ... our entire operation, really, and it will evolve.  Please click for a complete description of WeatherWool Certified Fine Wool.  Input on this is definitely invited!

2024-05-28 ... More Liars and Thieves and Slimeballs Than Ever
I'm thrilled to write that almost everyone we work with is a model of integrity.  Our Lending Library is a great example.  For $30 shipping, and without any type of security except the word of the borrower, we lend garments worth hundreds of dollars.  So far, after (guessing) around a thousand transactions, we have had exactly ONE person renege.  And even that one is still an open item.

In school days, I studied bio.  I liked the sciences in general because the idea is to understand Nature.  A search for real truth.  In English class, the instructor would ask us to interpret a poem, and tell us that our own interpretations were fine, so long as we could present a basis.  But it kept turning out that our own interpretation had better be the same as the instructor's, or it was wrong.  I even saw this in physical anthropology, which I eventually viewed as having more in common with the arts than the hard sciences.

Recently, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals had to admit they'd published material that should have been rejected.  And the underlying problem turned out to be that almost half of that journal's revenue was reprint royalties.  They'd publish some junk, then someone with money and a product to push would pay big bucks for the right to blab about this great stuff they'd just had published in heavy-duty medical lit.  What a scam!!  Wiley, one of the most-respected names in publishing, at least back when I was reading scientific stuff, just admitted they are shutting down 19 journals because of fraud.

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that my phone and my inbox are jammed with slimeballs.  My phone flags about half my incoming calls as SPAM, and I clobber them.   For the first year or so that I had a SPAM filter, I answered the call just to be sure.  And this drove Alex crazy.  But the phone was always right, and it's been a long time since I picked up a call flagged as SPAM.  But  I always wonder if some unfortunate soul is somehow going to get stuck with a new phone and a phone number that's in the SPAM database.  SPAM text messages arrive a few times a day (just now!).  I think someone may be clamping down on these, tho. 

The scamsters are more active than ever on email, even though my email supposedly also has a SPAM filter.  I get at least 25 mails a day (always from a free email account!!) promising to optimize our search engine rankings, fix our website, etc.  I really like the ones that ask why I have not responded to their previous notes.

The Nigerian princes are still around, but not so much as before.  The recent trend is investment advisor fraud, or at least spam.  I get about 20 mails daily from people who have investment advice ... these all seem to come from the same source, despite cosmetic differences.  At first, I unsubscribed, but that only seemed to make it worse.  I think what happens is that when you unsubscribe, they know they are sending to a real inbox, and that makes your address more saleable, as it is "verified".

Some of the email scamsters are really dangerous.  Twice, so far, email thieves have hacked the accounts of our vendors.  They monitor the account (I suppose they use Artificial Intelligence) until the vendor is about to send me an invoice, then they jump in and send instructions for a new pay-to account.  Never accept a change of payment destination without verifying over the phone!

A popular slimeball approach is to trick victims into clicking malicious links.  One such scam lately has been insisting we must complete our timesheets!  (No timesheets here!)  Another scam, almost surely using AI, said it had been looking into our website and found some bad links and CLICK HERE (malware express!) to see the bad links.  A similar mail with a malware destination link was pretending to tell me about derogatory info on WeatherWool.

More people have begun to demand that backorders must be filled for free, even though every product page makes clear our pricing.

And then, of course, there are sleazo money-lenders.  I'm good for about 10 notes a day from people wanting to lend money.  Some of them are definitely legitimate (but with non-competitive rates), but some of them are just click bait or info-thieves.

I also get notes daily from suppliers outside the USA.  It's prominent on our website that we are always 100% USA, but nevertheless, companies throughout Asia regularly offer to supply us with you-name-it, way cheaper than could be done in USA.  And of course they'll white-label for us (they'll put our label on their work).  These notes are usually polite and professional, and for a while I felt they deserved a courteous reply.  But now I think what these foreign suppliers are really doing is looking for companies who are willing to lie about American sourcing, or are willing to skirt the rules or tiptoe through some remarkably-large loopholes in the law.  As I understand it, for example, a company could use foreign fabric, have the PIECES of a garment made overseas, but still say MADE IN USA if the pieces are sewn into garments in America.

I guess some of this is a sign of financial distress in difficult times.  But some of it is also just a mindset.  I remember once speaking with local law enforcement.  In 1994, the police apprehended a burglar in my basement.  (Only time in my life I ever asked urgently for help and South Orange Police arrived in about 20 seconds!)  The burglar had already hit other houses in the neighborhood.  He had his booty with him when caught.  Following up with the police, I remarked that the thief was a hard-working thief ... up in the middle of the night, stealing from multiple dwellings.  I suggested that such a guy could probably do well working honestly.  And I remember clearly the detective saying "You don't understand.  He doesn't think that way.  He is a thief.  That's what he does."  And I had a couple of but-what-ifs, and the detective just repeated "That's how you or I think.  That's not how he thinks.  Honest work would not enter his head.  He's a thief."

My name ... my family's name ... is all over this website.  And our name will continue to be all over this website.  There may be some mistakes (some of the details of manufacture are really confusing to me!), but whatever is here is what we believe is true, and we make significant effort to be correct.  There won't be ever be anything deliberately misleading.  There won't be any fine print or nasty surprises.  There won't be any sneaking through loopholes.  No matter how many slimeballs are "out there", there won't be any slimeballs here.  We will make the best 100% American, 100% Wool Garments we can figure out.  Supported by the best customer service we can figure out.

2024-05-26 ... Website Update Coming ... Memorial Day
Not so long ago, I was on the phone with a customer who has a lot of experience with ecommerce.  He was very insightful ... correctly guessed a number of significant aspects of our business.  Looking over our website, he said, correctly, that it looked like it was from 2017.

For me, the 1990s was last week, so 2017 still sounds like "the latest".  But it's not.  Cody has been telling me the same for a while.  So, we have a new website coming in mid-June.  The content will be almost unchanged, and the first-person approach will remain.  But the organization and accessibility will be different.  The access to information will be updated to the current approach ... more compatible with the typical quick-hit style of most visitors but still letting me present all the details to those who want them.

A big reason for the change is the continuing rise of mobile-phone use.  At present, >60% of website visitors are on their phones.  This is a horrible way to visit us -- those tiny screens!!! -- but that's the situation, and it's only getting worse (meaning the proportion of cell-phone visitors continues to grow).  We need to make our site as phone-accessible as possible.

Our "product pages" will continue to offer much more information than is typical for the industry, but the info will be accessed by clicking drop-down menus and READ MORE buttons.

A huge improvement will be the way current inventory is presented.  It will be much more clear what is in-stock and what can be backordered.

There will be a few glitches popping up between now and the live-cut, and there will probably be a couple of weeks where we are fixing a lot of broken links.  But June-July are definitely the best months for us to do something like this.

Anything doesn't seem right, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  I won't be doing a Blog, nor will we be running "Memorial Day Sales".  Wishing everyone an appropriate Memorial Day.

2024-05-25 ... New Approach to Fabric Batches
Prior to Batch 10, each of our Fabric Batches was intended to include only wool from a single year.  Hurricane Ida forced a different approach for Batches 7 and 8 ... stuff (floods!) happen.  However, we've decided that Batch 10 will include clips from multiple ranches for 2023 and 2024.

As we have grown, we've learned that we have more possibilities with larger batches.  Generally, we need to operate with batches of 40,000 pounds (1818 kg) of greasy wool into to unlock the additional processing possibilities we have begun to employ with Batch 9.  This year, we are extending these concepts and I'm really looking forward to it!

2024-05-23 ... WeatherWool Certified Fine Wool
We have designed new garment (and Fabric) labels

Our new Garment Label.  The last line will vary as needed.

I want the labels to be descriptive and specific, but there isn't much space on a garment label.  So I've decided that "100% USA" will be very upfront.  But we have a whole lot else to say.  And that "whole lot else" will evolve.  "WeatherWool Certified" hints at what we are about but makes it clear we are doing as we believe appropriate.

We won't be constrained by anyone else's ideas or standards (and the industries are tossing out a lot of new standards), and our specs and standards will continue to evolve.  Here is the first draft of another permanent-work-in-progress page:  WeatherWool Certified Fine Wool

2024-05-22 ... Updated Customer Service Policy
I changed our Customer Service Policy a little, adding some flexibility.  Generally, we will continue to handle all returns and exchanges at our expense.  However, I've had to close accounts when returns/exchanges became excessive.  Now, we may reach a point where the customer assumes the cost of additional churn rather than close the account.

2024-05-21 ... Finalized 2024 Greasy Purchases
Yesterday I finalized our purchases of greasy (raw) wool for 2024.  I'll have a lot more to say about that later this week.  But I just got a great email from Advisor Bob Padula to Advisor Mike Corn and me, regarding the lots I just purchased from Mike via his Roswell Wool

I'm including this transcript here mostly to show the balances of factors and concerns that go into our purchases.  (Also to show Padula can't resist working although he is also battling some health bug.  It's nice to see the dedication!)  CONGRATS to Bob on his appointment to the Wool Council!!

Ralph and Mike,

Glad Ralph is feeling better, I came down with something over the weekend and it’s taking a while for me to get back to feeling well.   Good news is I hope to be feeling better over the Holiday weekend.      

I’ve been reviewing and working with Mike on the test results and looking at how the wool will work in the WeatherWool blend.  It looks good.    

I think things look very positive and there should not be any of those lots that will cause problems.    One of the keys to the blend is making sure there are not any overly divergent outliers that will cause problems.    Naturally, the more consistent you can start with - the easier it is ..... but reality is this is going to be a blend and the various lots in the mix need to be complimentary to each other - and help make up any deficiency in some area, and that an individual lot is not going to be detrimental and compromise the entire lot.     

One of the advantages WW has is that length is longer than typical wool in the USA and with finer diameters used wool, there will be more fibers in the cross sectional area of the yarn - which should add strength to the yarn and durability to the yarn and subsequent fabric.    Also need to consider the Position of Break - and the wool used in this blend should comb nicely and provide a uniform wool top.   

It’s never all the same length - even if it were all the lots have the same greasy staple length and strength.   Just like fiber diameter has a bell curve, wool fiber length in wool top is also a “range” with inherent variability .... not so much a bell shaped curve as it is an “S”.... or zig/zag.   Fiber diameter has a 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.4 micron.....  Staple length (and this is the staple, not individual fibers) is roughly +/- 5 mm for the “bundle” of raw fibers or lock/staple of wool.        

Typical problems for other top makers occurs is when they are blending shorter lengths with longer ones (think 65 mm with 95 to make an 80 mm length) and then having one of the components being weaker than the other.   Short and weak is obviously going to be a problem, but longer and weaker isn’t nearly as much of an issue in a blend.  The fiber is going to break someplace with the testing, and breaks at the tip or base, rather than middle are less of an issue.  

And it’s not as simple as an “all or nothing” as some people like to believe.  As the fibers are processed, they do help “bring the others” through the fiber processing stream.    

One of the challenges I heard 25 years ago when I was in Australian and New Zealand was how some of the buyers were putting “unrealistic” expectations on the sale lots for length and strength and how they were forgetting that the mills and fabric is a “blend”.    Naturally, the more consistent your individual components are in the blend, the easier it is .... but that does not always translate into the reality of creating of a fabric that met the realities of the customer.   Think of woolens blending in noils and short wool into fabric to achieve a “hand” or finished affect.  The same is with worsted and knits.  

The key factors with WeatherWool from the start was finer and longer fibers than typically used by the woolen coating trade.  That is what gave the softer handle and durable yarn/fabric. 

Enough of today’s Wool lesson ....

FYI - I have been appointed to the ASI’s American Wool Council and have a conference call today.   This is a good thing.   I hope my background, training and expertise can help guide the US wool industry into the future.    With the support of WeatherWool and Roswell wool - there is a bright future for US wool and the industry.

2024-05-20 ... Getting Back
For the past few days I've been mostly out of commission with fever.  I've done some work, which was not necessarily productive, but I'm a slow learner, or just stubborn.  I think I'm coming out of it.  Nowhere near as bad as Saturday.  We had scheduled a meeting with a banker, too important to postpone, but fortunately it was only to sign documents.  I've never had a meet like that one ... drenched with sweat by the end of it.  (Sorry if TMI!)

I've come up with numerous ideas in these days of fevered indolence.  Debby dismissed all of them except for an adjustment to our Customer Service policy.  Once I've rewritten, I'll post again.  I'm sure nobody will dislike ... it's customer-driven.

2024-05-15 ... JUDGE.ME
Our website is now running a new application to handle Customer Reviews.  JUDGE.ME verifies the identity of the customer and the authenticity of the review.  If you post a review, the software will first verify (via website records) that you have made a purchase from us and then send an email asking you to verify the post.  I don't like pestering people, but I will let this go, at least for now.  There may be a switch I can set to turn off the verification email, but hopefully people who posted won't mind!

THANKS ALL!!

2024-05-14 ... Spinning and Yarn Types
People ask frequently about spinning and weaving.  I just updated the Spinning page.  Giuseppe Monteleone, Director of Operations at American Woolen, our huge Partner, looked it over and gave me a nice quote, too. 

I wanted to update the Spinning page partly because Chris Karam, the force behind KaramHandmade and a great customer of ours, made a drawing for me showing the difference between Worsted Spun and Woolen Spun yarns:

It's natural to wonder about the term "Woolen Spun" ... we're always 100% wool, and I wish there was different nomenclature!

Here's the nub of it from Giuseppe:

“There is a lot more science and technical information behind the Worsted spinning and the Woolen spinning. We can’t compare to each other because they are two separate worlds. Remember the yarn is the foundation of the fabric. If the yarn is bad the finish fabric will be horrible.”

2024-05-12 ... Street Meet
Cody took the video I made of our Sidewalk Fitting last week (Blog of 11 May) and cut it down to 95 seconds.  We look at a few aspects of two versions of our in-development Denim Vest, JR explains why making things without an inner liner is more difficult and expensive, and a couple of folks in the peanut gallery chime in.

 

 Street Meet!


About the only thing I miss from my 7-5 job in financial services is the people that I worked with.  That is definitely part of why I enjoy this kind of sidewalk session.  The woman in blue is Jr's assistant Anya.

And obviously, this kind of collaborative-jabbing during work happens everywhere.  Last month, in Wyoming, a few of us were putting up the clip from the Innes Ranch at the Wool Warehouse in Gillette.  The bales needed to be unloaded from Bob Innes' flatbed, weighed, and numbered.  Larry, who runs the warehouse, is semi-retired and, I think, closing in on age 80.  Bob had a question about the numbering, and Larry stopped his forklift, stared Bob in the face and deadpanned "What part of starting with number one confused you?"

As for the Vest, we'll almost certainly likely forget any lining.  JR was thinking we might use our own 100% Wool LightWeight Fabric (a little bit of info is on the page where Fabrics, including the LightWeight, can be purchased) but we want to reduce the bulk and weight of this vest as much as possible.  We'll probably also streamline the design from what is shown in the vid.  Several versions is the normal course of development of our garments.  It's nice to know why tailors everywhere love to put linings in vests and jackets ... BUT ... sorry for the extra work, JR!

2024-05-11 ... Advisor Heath Gunns and Spoken Outdoors
I've known Heath for over ten years now, since we first "went public" with WeatherWool.  Heath's been a great friend and Advisor.  Heath has been hosting disabled American Veterans on outdoor adventures since before we met.  He has recently created a new organization, Spoken Outdoors, through which he continues to serve those who have served our Country.  This morning, Heath sent me a link to a 2-minute video showing the essence of Spoken Outdoors.

 Heath is on the left, in chest waders and Lynx Pattern Anorak

 

2024-05-10 ... Natural White Anoraks and Denim Vests
We're always working on new design ideas.  Most of them don't get into production, of course, but it's important to keep pushing, and it's fun, too.


This photo shows Advisor JR Morrissey in a Denim Vest design idea he is developing for us.  (And behind him, a construction crew loading a dumpster.) The backstory for this photo is also fun.  I needed to drop off some "notions" (zippers, cord locks, thread ...), and JR wanted to show us the Vest.  But this is midtown Manhattan, and only commercial vehicles can legally park on West 37th Street during business hours.  I don't have commercial plates, so I didn't want to go into JR's offices and risk a $750 parking violation, plus towing.  So, JR came outside and we held a sidewalk meeting.  It's a little crazy but kind of routine for us.  We'll get input from pedestrians and people working nearby ... the freight elevator operator, the guy who owns the little convenience-store next door, the guy who runs the neighboring garment-supply shop ... People who don't know NYC may be surprised, but everybody is happy for a friendly interaction and to give a quick opinion. 

We want to make more pieces in Denim, but we don't want to offer the same item in both Denim and Jacquard Fabrics.  It may turn out to be a baseless concern, but I want to avoid the possibility that people confuse Denim with Jacquard Fabric if we offer the same design in all our Fabrics.

And ... I was delivering notions because we are now making Anoraks in Natural White, Batch 9 Fabric.  This is the first real production run of Natural White, although we did make some Blankets, CPOs and Anoraks several months ago with a few rolls of Nat White Fabric that we pushed through early, as a test of the Natural Undyed Fabric.

If you want a Natural White Anorak in either FullWeight or MidWeight Fabric, the website is accepting payment for delivery in July.

Accepting payment prior to shipment is something we have usually avoided, but JR's Factory8 already has all the components necessary and has begun to make the Anoraks.  Once the sewing pros are working, I'm not worried about long delays.  (Hope I'm not jinxing myself!! ... or them!!!)

2024-05-07 ... WarriorWool Change?
A few days ago, we received a WarriorWool Donation from a gent in the UK, and he wanted the Anorak to go to the UK Elite Paratroopers Regiment.  Ziggy, one of our contacts with the UK Military, will place the wool with the Pathfinders Parachute Regiment.  But rather than an Anorak, Ziggy suggested "... the Hooded Jacket would be more suitable for rapidly changing layers in an operational environment due to the front zip."  OK.  We'll definitely do a Hooded Jacket in this case (and I just found three of them last night, "lost" in the inventory).  Also, I am pretty sure I'm going to change the WarriorWool Program and offer a choice of the Anorak or the Hooded.  Any thoughts on this would be appreciated!

2024-05-06 ... The Wool States
America's leading wool-production States are California, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, each with about 2.3 million pounds (1000 metric tons).  Also, almost all of Wyoming's sheep are "wool sheep".  "Hair sheep" are grown only for their meat.  Wyoming has very few, if any, hair sheep.  Comparing wool production with population, it's easy to see that wool is far more important to Wyoming (577,000 people) than California (39,000,000) or Colorado (5.9 million) or Utah (3.3 million), all of which have population much larger than Wyoming. 

It's going to be very good working with Wyoming Wool Producers and the University of Wyoming!

2024-05-05 ... One Year of Denim, SuperWash
It was May of 2023 when I first learned that denim could be wool!  A year later, we've been shipping our 100% Wool South Shore Chore Coats for about a month, and we've been getting great feedback.

When it comes to 100% wool denim, there are VERY FEW other possibilities.  I don't know why that would be the case, because, at least so far, our denim seems terrif.  We've only been testing it ourselves for six months now, and only a few of us.  So, maybe time will tell a different story.  But we have been testing hard, in a lot of conditions.

I did find one other company making what their website says are 100% wool denim Pants.  But they are also much lighter than ours and machine washable.  Machine-washable wool means the wool has been treated in ways that, in my opinion, denature the wool and take away from some of the Natural, wondrous properties of the wool as given to us by the sheep.

This website needs another page on superwashing, but for now I will link, with BIG THANKS, to Clara Parkes' super-enthusiastic Wool Channel.  (I'm a big fan of Super-Enthusiasm, unlike superwashing.)

Superwashing involves nibbling away at wool's scaliness, and then coating the wool in a polymer.  The composition of the polymer seems to vary.  But from our point of view, it doesn't matter so much because coating the wool with anything means the natural performance of wool has been compromised.  And I know "Team Superwash" will not like anyone saying that.  I invite some research and testing!

As for WeatherWool and superwash, we have always sought to minimize it.  As of Batch 9 (Fabric production beginning 2023), we use 0 superwash wool.

2024-05-03 ... Kifaru Podcast
About a month ago, in a hotel room in Wyoming, I got a text from a guy  wanting to discuss our wool.  He'd been wearing one of our Anoraks for a while, but needed a replacement because he'd given it to a friend in the Military.  The caller turned out to be Aron Snyder, CEO of Kifaru International, manufacturer of the world's premiere backpacks.  It means a lot when someone at the top of the outdoor-gear biz has nice things to say about us. 

I noticed Aron's area code was 307, which is Wyoming.  And it turned out Kifaru is based in Riverton.  I told Aron we'd soon be in Riverton to visit family, who operate the Jim Moss Arena Campground.  Aron invited me to visit Kifaru and record a podcast, which was just released yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to listen to the podcast (almost an hour) on Spotify.  MANY THANKS to Aron for his interest in WeatherWool, and his kindness in hosting me for a podcast.  Kifaru is much better-known than WeatherWool, so it is likely we'll be introduced to quite a few people who've not previously heard of us.

2024-05-02 ... Smelting
When Cody told me about an opportunity to create a film about harvesting Wild Smelt, I loved the idea.  Smelt on Christmas Eve was a favorite part of the tremendous Seafood Feast my Aunt Mary would prepare every year.  It was heaven for a little kid ... fantastic dinner, then fidget my way through Midnight Mass (now they would say I was hyperactive) and then Christmas Day.

Smelts are fish, the size of your hand, that are sometimes in fantastic abundance and always fantastic on the dinner plate.  And the smelts harvested in this film are considered INVASIVE SPECIES.  The Ontario government would like to eliminate them from the area where Cody was smelting.  So ... this is a "catch and cook without limit" situation.

THANKS for another super video, Cody.  You know how I love Wild Foods, but you won't know until you read this how your film helped to bring back great memories of great times with wonderful people who are no longer around.  In the first seconds of the film, you'll hear the SPRING PEEPERS, the tiny frogs whose mating call signals Smelting Season.

2024-04-30 ... Nice Coincidence with WILDFED
I was wakeful early this morning, per usual, and was wondering what to do ... I did some WeatherWool stuff for an hour or so, and the timing was pretty good for turkey hunting at The Swamp.  But:  last week, the skeeters were just starting to tune up;  there was no sign of turkey;  I don't really want to field-dress and pluck a bird anyway;  my back has been very painful for two weeks (dang I must be getting old).  So I decided to watch WILDFED on TV.

WILDFED is starting its fourth season on Outdoor TV.  The brainchild of WeatherWool Advisor and our friend Daniel Vitalis, WILDFED features acquisition and (serious) preparation of Wild Foods, worldwide.  Debby and I really like the show because we really like Daniel and his wife, Avani, and because this is one of the ideas I was working on 10 years ago but WeatherWool took over our lives.

We always appreciate WeatherWool on tube, and so it was extra-nice seeing Daniel wearing his Anorak while hunting snowshoe rabbits in Maine, his home State (Season 3, Episode 10).  My earliest hunting memories are from the days when my Dad ran his beagles for cottontails.  And Mom made some fabulous dinners from those rabbits.  So I was thinking to send Dan an email.  It would have been nice to phone him, but our calls usually last an hour or more and neither of us has the time for that lately, which is maybe not a good perspective.  But anyway, before I wrote the email, it was even nicer to coincidentally receive an email from Daniel.  He sent me a couple of screen grabs from his upcoming episode "Tahr and Urban Foraging", shot in New Zealand!

Looks like I should send Dan a Watch Cap!  Hard to be sure from the photos, but I think I see a lot of synthetic clothing ... and NZ is renowned for its sheep and wool!

WILDFED Season Four premiers May 12 (Shellfish and Mushrooms in Washington State) and May 19 for the New Zealand outing.  Anyone who enjoys the outdoors and/or fine foods will become a fan of WILDFED.  And I think that covers just about everyone!  Great work, Daniel!  I know WILDFED is having a positive influence on a lot of people.

THANKS DANIEL and always good to hear from you (and see you ... in person or on tube!)

2024-04-28 ... Last Open House of Season Today ... BioPlastics NO!
Next Open House is 28 August ... I feel like the Fall Season starts TOMORROW!!  We have a ton to do, and a lot of Fabric is underway, but ... four months is really very little time for us.

Today's newsletter from Alden Wicker's Ecocult talks about bioplastics.  I've been leery of industry claims on bioplastics, and it seems with good reason.  But this stuff is new, and hopefully it will fulfill eventually fulfill the promise of clean, biodegradable plastic made from various agricultural wastes.  So maybe I should have headlined "BioPlastics NOT YET!".

I'm a fan of anyone helping to make our clothing healthier, and Ecocult is all about that.  I try to avoid political matters here, but some stuff that should really be science seems more governed by politics.  Hopefully that's only because the science is too complicated for us to agree.  But mostly I think it's because of financial influences.  ("When I follow the science, 97% of the time it leads to the money" is a great meme I've seen a few times.)  Ecocult is tangentially, but strongly, concerned about limiting CO2.  I think CO2 is plant food and not a problem.  But regardless of anyone's viewpoint on CO2, Ecocult is putting out some great info on toxicity in clothing and toxins used in the manufacture of clothing.

Today, Wicker wrote of a simple personal experience/experiment with bioplastic:

I put compostable sandwich bags in my compost bin. The humidity had led them to shred when I tried to use them for snacks on a hike, smearing peanut butter and potato chip pieces all inside my daypack. So I tried to compost them. Now, it's seven months later and I'm picking up strangely intact sandwich bags from all over my yard. The fact that these compostable sandwich bags could also poison wildlife and my soil? No, thank you.

At WeatherWool, we manufacture only 100% Wool Fabric.  And we are working to make our Fabrics as healthful and clean as possible.

2024-04-26 ... Pack Basket Making with Jim Abbott
A sweet benefit of working on the wool is the opportunity to speak with a great many interesting people.  With some people, I learn over time that they are extraordinary -- very extraordinary -- at something.  And there have been a great many of those!  But sometimes, I get the feeling right away ... probably just because of a random turn in the conversation.  In the case of Jim Abbott, I don't remember what it was.  But I knew quickly that Jim had a lifetime of very serious experience in the forests of New York State's Adirondack Mountains.  And that Jim has a love and reverence for his native lands.  (A lot of people have no idea how large and wild are the Adirondacks.  If you didn't already know, why would anyone expect a six million acre [2.7 million hectares] preserve within a few hours drive of New York City?)

We've previously offered Cody's essay and film on Jim Abbott and Adirondack Brook Trout.

Jim is a master of many of the old Adirondack skills, one of which is the handcrafting of Adirondack Pack Baskets.  The Pack Basket originated thousands of years ago, and few people today have the ability or dedication to make the Baskets in the traditional way.  Jim's Pack Baskets are functional works of art, and highly sought after.

Cody has produced another video on Jim and his Pack Baskets, and he's done a great job presenting Jim's work and thoughts.  We're very grateful to Cody for this video and to Jim for sharing with us so generously exactly what it is that he does, and even more for sharing his feelings, philosophy, aesthetics.

Since the full film is 57min long we have made a trailer to give you a preview.

The 1-hour video is now available here.

2024-04-25 ... Where Next?
Something that comes up frequently when I speak with customers is WHY ARE YOU IN NEW JERSEY?  Jersey seems a mismatch for what we are doing.  And that's understandable ... but Jersey is actually a good place from which to manage our production.  We are only 10 miles from "The Garment District" and "Fashion Avenue", the part of midtown Manhattan that has historically been central to US garment manufacture, development and promotion.  So our tailors are only a short drive away.  We are also within three hours or so of our weaving mills.  And actually, all of the processing take place on the East Coast.  (All of the companies involved in our production are presented on our Partner Relations page.)

Debby and I have lived almost all our lives in the NYC metro area, so it's natural for us to be where we are now.  And we've been in our home since 1984.  But WeatherWool is outgrowing the house, and New Jersey is an inhospitable place financially, except for one big thing.  Jersey is one of the most highly taxed and regulated States in the USA.  And Essex County, where we live, is Jersey's most highly taxed county.  The accountants say "Whatever you do, don't die in Jersey!"

But there is one BIG advantage to running WeatherWool from Jersey ... Jersey does not levy sales tax on clothing.  And this seems to be a permanent part of the Jersey tax landscape.  When Jersey instituted sales taxes in the late 1960s, the phenomenon of the "shopping mall" was a new idea, and Jersey was IN.  Jersey does not have a big, rich city of its own.  But we have Philadelphia and New York City just across the Delaware and Hudson Rivers.  Jersey decided they could attract shoppers from Pennsylvania and New York if there was no sales tax on clothing.  This has proven correct.

And while it is generally true that out-of-state customers are not subject to in-state taxes for mail-order, nationwide state-level legislators all seem keen to change that.  So Jersey may remain something of a tax-shelter from clothing sales taxes.

On the other hand, if WeatherWool operated out of Wyoming, nobody would ask "Why?".  And I do love Wyoming!  (Although I've not spent much time there in winter!!)  And Wyoming surely loves wool.  Wyoming, California, Colorado and Utah are America's leading wool-producing States, each producing about 2.2 or 2.3 million pounds (1 million kg) of wool.  But sheep are far more important in Wyoming than in any other State because the human population of Wyoming is so much smaller.  Also, the breeds most common in Wyoming, Targhee and Rambouillet (both with Merino genetics), produce the type of wool we seek.

But Wyoming would leave us 1900 miles (3000 km) from our tailors and mills.  That would lead to a lot of traveling and a lot more shipping.  Order fulfillment would also be somewhat slower from Wyoming.  Our UPS guys (hooray Troy and Yovanney) know to visit us at the end of the day, every day, giving us max time to fulfill orders.  DHL has a hub nearby and we use them frequently for international shipments.  FedEx is under 15 minutes drive and we can drop off a package as late as 10PM for next-day delivery just about anywhere in the lower 48 States.

Yesterday, we looked at a couple of properties in rural Pennsylvania.  We would have some of the same order-fulfillment issues as we would in Wyoming, but at least we'd be within a day's drive of the tailors and the mills.  It would be a major adjustment for Debby, especially, to move to an area where the biggest businesses are farm-implement dealerships.  Maybe even for me!   I think I'd be OK with it, but the joke might be on me ... now, there are about a dozen pizzerias close enough to deliver HOT.  Half of them are within walking distance.

We will keep looking and deliberating and are open to suggestions for relocation!

2024-04-22 ... Today is "Earth Day 2024"
I haven't commented previously on Earth Day, but ...

One of the great things about wool is that, at least compared to the other fabrics we wear, it's hard for the environmentally-minded to criticize.

First off, tho, I remember some stuff that might surprise people.  I was born in 1954, and I lived only a short walk from New Jersey's Saddle River.  It wasn't much of a river, but for a little kid of 5 to 10 years, it was something special, a different world.   We could run up and down both sides of the river, where there was a small band of trees and brush.  The river and adjacent pond were full of turtles, frogs, snakes, fish.  It was Heaven for me! 

But there was a big problem that I and my friends could see, and we talked about it.  Pollution.  The "big kids" talked about the days when they used to swim in the river ... maybe 1955 or so.  But by the early 1960s, all of us kids agreed the river was "too polluted for swimming", although there was still plenty of wildlife.  On one stretch of the river, where the riverbank was steep, there were a few factories.  Those factories used the river as a dump.  If it was liquid waste, pipes spewed multi-color, foamy water into the river.  If it was solid waste, they would throw it out the back door, and it would eventually find its way down the bank, into the river and downstream.  Jersey has since gone the other way big-time ... dump garbage in the river and the government will land on you very hard (unless maybe if you are "connected").  But in 1962, no problem.  That sort of thing didn't last much longer, and by the first Earth Day, April 22 of 1970, New Jersey was quite well along the way toward stopping the obvious polluters.

I haven't gone "down the river" -- visited my old stomping grounds on the Saddle River -- since the 1960s.  But I regularly visit The Swamp, adjacent to Sharkey's Dump, which was far worse than anything I saw at the Saddle River.  I was actually at The Swamp this morning, for the Turkey Season opener.  It was a glorious morning, and The Swamp is about as ALIVE as could possibly be.  But there was no sign of any turkey. They might be there later in the season.  My hen-calls did bring in a raccoon, and that was a hint regarding the lack of turkeys.  Raccoon populations are very high now (fur prices are very low), and raccoons are expert nest-raiders. 

The reason this morning's outing ties in with Earth Day, tho ...

These two yellow-post sensors were just installed at the turn-off to our place.  I don't yet know for sure who put them in, or why, but they could hardly have been installed in a more inconvenient spot for us.  Right in the middle of the turn-off.  A real Jersey-style reminder of who's boss and who's just regular folks.  However, my guess is that the sensors are related to the ongoing mitigation work and testing at Sharkey's.  There are similar pipes popping out of the ground all over Sharkey's, which is literally within a stone's throw of that spot.  So ... I am guessing these new sensors are a little taste of Earth Day boomerang.

So anyhow, environmentalism started out, in my experience, as a movement to stop people dumping garbage into rivers, which I think just about everyone would agree with.  Now, however, Earth Day and "environmentalism" is taken to mean all sorts of things, some of which I disagree with.  But it is great that more and more people understand that we are entirely dependent upon our environment.

But ... back to Earth Day and wool.  The clothing industry has attracted the ire of the enviros because clothing manufacture and fashion can be very dirty.  Much clothing is synthetic, much clothing ends up in landfills and worse, synthetics shed microfibers that last forever and go everywhere, etc., etc.  And in fact, the website home page of Earth Day, today, highlights the troubles believed to be caused by microplastics, much of which is from clothing:  "Scientists believe that microplastics in our bodies may be responsible for everything from cancer to autism to Alzheimer’s to birth defects to falling fertility rates."  Wool, and sheep, are getting some love from these same folks because the sheep nourish the soil that nourishes the plants that nourish the sheep that grow the wool which is 100% biodegradable.  A sweet cycle.  BUT!!! ... The fashion-enviros still haven't figured out wool makes the best clothing.  At least they are on the road to that conclusion!

2024-04-21 ... "Apple Blossom Time" ... Last Open House of the Season
Old-timers will remember the song "Apple Blossom Time".  For us, spring blossoms signal the end of "Wool Season", at least in the Northern Hemisphere.   But now our Southern Hemisphere friends will be thinking of us again.

We'll have the last Open House of the season a week from today, on Sunday the 28th.  We're still available most anytime, by appointment.

I feel like part of being weather-lovers and wool-people is enjoying Nature and the flow of the Seasons.  And I definitely love Spring and Summer, but I actually start feeling anxious this time of year because late August -- only four months away! -- signals the beginning of Wool Season, and we have sooooo much to do between now and then.

In Spring of '22 (or '21?), we noticed Robins trying to build a nest on a small ledge under the roof of our kitchen porch.  It wasn't quite wide enough, at least in my opinion, so, when the robins were away I anchored a wider board in their chosen spot, and they readily accepted the renovation.  But last year and this year, Mourning Doves nested there.  Debby puts bits of wool out for them to use as nesting material.  When the nest is abandoned we'll check whether they've used any.  Spring is early this year, and two chicks have already fledged and left the nest.  The female is sitting the nest again, starting her second clutch!  And it's still April!  Living so near to us, these doves have become half-tame, and don't fly off if we approach.  When I took the close-up of the Apple Blossoms, I didn't know until viewing the photo the dove sitting right in the center of the largest branch.

With about four months to go until the (New Jersey perspective!) Fall Wool Season is upon us, we have some decisions to make.  Right now, we have about 3500 yards (3150 meters) of Fabric to work with, but it's a sort of incompatible mix.  If we had equal portions of our eight Jacquard Fabrics, I'd send "cutting tickets" to the sewing pros and get things rolling.  But a mix of LightWeight Fabric (suitable for pockets, mostly ... and true Shirts, if we ever actually make them), Denim (Charcoal, Indigo and Natural White) and FullWeight and MidWeight Jacquard can't be efficiently used.  Plus, we have quite a bit of what I'm calling Surprise Fabric.   Or maybe I should call it Bonus Fabric.

Component imbalances inevitably occur during production.  That is, we have warp yarn of a particular color without the needed corresponding weft yarn of the same color (or vice versa).  Several months ago, AWC surprised me with a tally of the quantity of leftover yarn.  I didn't expect so much!  So, we used some of the Batch 9 top to make the needed warp or weft to enable us to turn the Surprise Yarn into Bonus Fabric.  For example, to my surprise, we have well-over 200 yards (a good 200 meters) of our old Duff (light Brown) color.    We also have about 150 yards (135 meters) of FullWeight Taupe ... a solid color we've never even offered before.  Taupe is one of the colors used in Lynx, and we had quite a bit of that yarn left over.  I'm tempted to use the Duff and Taupe for Anoraks, which is definitely a path of low resistance.  But, we have close to 5000 yards (4500 meters) more Fabric coming by Wool Season ... It's all good news, really, except I feel like Wool-Season starts up again tomorrow.

To our Friends preparing for Passover (Debby is in kitchen-beast mode!), our warmest wishes for a joyous Holiday.  Am Yisrael Chai.

2024-04-20 ... Chore Coats and Feedback, Production Timetable
Our production is frustratingly slow.  It's fully described on the Start to Finish page.  One aspect of production, which I just added to the page, is that the needs of the weavers and the tailors are opposite.  To switch a loom from one Fabric to the next requires a lot of work and time and expense.  So the weavers want to complete the entire order of each Fabric before beginning the next.  The tailors, on the other hand, are fine working with multiple colors at the same time.  The tailoring becomes more efficient and higher quality as the same team continues to work on the same garment more and more.  So the tailors don't want to hear that we can send Black Fabric now, but we won't have any other Fabric for two months.  Needing to send all the different Fabrics at once slows us down a lot.  We'll need to sit on some Fabrics for months while we wait for the mills to complete the others.

We started shipping the Denim Charcoal Chore Coats about April 11th, and we began shipping the Denim Indigo Chore Coats two days ago.  We have been getting fantastic feedback on these pieces.  It's very gratifying.  For a long time, tho, it's been a puzzlement to me that I'll personally receive at least 10 reviews (more like 20, I think) for every one that someone posts on the website. And I am grateful for every one of them!  But yesterday, someone did post a review of the Chore Coat.  (THANKS, JONATHAN!!)  The Review Section is at the very bottom of each Product Page.

It's a little bit weird that I decided to go forward with the Denim Fabric partly because it enables us to compress our usual production timetable.  Offering Fabric that is NOT a Jacquard weave requires me to do a lot of writing/updating on this website.  It also requires us to change some of our promotional material (we have very little of that, tho!) and even our business cards.  If we didn't love the Denim from the first bolt of Fabric, of course we wouldn't have continued with it.  BUT, we do love the Denim, and besides being a delightful and, apparently, unique (I know! ... that's a wild claim, but please LMK if you find anyone else offering 100% Wool Denim Fabric or garments!) Fabric, there is a very happy and important technical reason for making it.

We love everyone who helps us make our Jacquard Fabrics (gosh ... another page I need to rewrite!).  But that production timeline is a bear!!  Worsted-spinning takes around three months.  Stock-dyeing the fiber about the same.  Jacquard weaving is super-slow ... about 50 yards (45 meters) per day.  And trucking between these three separate companies adds more time.  However, with the Denim, we bypass all of those steps:

  • All of the Denim Yarn is woolen-spun (with us, it's always 100% wool, but some of our yarns are worsted-spun and some woolen-spun, which seems unnecessarily confusing nomenclature) by American Woolen
  • All of the Denim Yarn is yarn-dyed by American Woolen
  • The Denim is woven on a Dobby Loom by American Woolen

That is to say, once we have the wool TOP from Chargeurs, American Woolen can produce Denim that is ready for the tailors with no other company involved.  This is a gigantic improvement in efficiency!!

2024-04-17 ... Friendly Comp, Serious Comp

Ten days ago, Cody and I were in Yellowstone National Park, and Cody took this photo of young bison bulls sparring.  They were having a semi-friendly shoving match, and these youngsters weren't trying to hurt each other.  Their rivalry reminded me of the way I feel about our competitors, particularly our American competitors.  I'm not sure anyone else is aiming for Hardcore Luxury® the way we are, so it may be that we don't truly have a direct competitor.  Nevertheless, we are competing on some level with many other companies.  But the worldwide apparel market is huge ... about Two Trillion US Dollars annually.  And more locally, the American plus Canadian markets are approaching a Half Trillion US Dollars annually.  So, even if WeatherWool were to grow by an order of magnitude (or two!), our market share would still be essentially zero.

The competition between these young bison may develop into something quite brutal over time.  The adult bulls may severely injure or even kill each other.  One bull in this group had lost an eye.  Our competition with other makers of All-Purpose Outerwear won't become so brutal as all that (??!!), but it's still important.

I've avoided direct comparisons to other makers, but consumers would benefit from contests, comparisons and direct challenges.  Of course, there are many ways to evaluate All-Purpose Outerwear, so individuals will reach different conclusions even after the same testing.

Still, speaking for all of us at WeatherWool, we invite direct testing, head-to-head comparison ... on any basis.  In the spirit of the young bulls, I think it would be good for the customers, and good for any manufacturer who wants to improve.  And for anyone who wants to go old-bull style, we're ready.

2024-04-15 ... Anorak Found ... Still Recovering!
Debby found someone who not only had the Anorak I need (yesterday entry) but actually wanted Drab rather than Lynx.  And happily we do have just the Anorak he wants in stock now.  So ... THANKS TO PATRICK, and GOOD TRADE!  Many THANKS to those who contacted me with offers of Anoraks that were similar to what I need!

And I'm still off-balance from the non-stop drive home from Wyoming.  Guess I am getting too old for that sort of thing.

2024-04-14 ... Anorak Needed:  XLarge, Lynx, MidWeight
Something has come up suddenly ... I have an urgent need for an Anorak in XLarge, Lynx Pattern, MidWeight Fabric.  I'll happily make just about any arrangement to replace, return, buy back, trade, whatever!  Please get in touch if you can help.  THANKS -- Ralph

2024-04-12 ... Back in the Office
I'm back in the office as of this afternoon.  But I will need a day or so to recover from about 29 straight hours behind the wheel.   Long drive from Casper, Wyoming to South Orange, New Jersey.  And I'll need about two weeks to catch up on emails, etc!

2024-04-11 ... Heading East
Monday we recorded a podcast with Aron Snyder of Kifaru International.  Not sure when it will be released.  They have an extensive library available. THANKS ARON!!

Monday evening we spent with kin in Riverton at their Jim Moss Arena.    Mountain Man Josh Kirk and his Sweetheart joined us for some shooting out on the high desert.  Terrific time with family at a great place.   

We spent Tuesday with Josh on the Bison Ranch, and met some fine folks that Josh works with in Lander.  We really appreciate Josh taking so much of his time to show us around and explain the bison operation.   More on that later!   THANKS TO JOSH AND THE CREW! 

Tuesday night we had a meat feast with Lamb from the U of Wyoming's Sheep Program and Bison from Josh and friends.  I will post a link when back in office.  Thanks Everyone for a super barbecue!!

Yesterday was rest and family.  Cody returned home to Ontario. ... And today, a quick stop at U of Wyoming Wool Lab in Laramie, and then continue the 1900 mile (3000 km) drive home to Jersey ... and Debby!

Fantastic, fun, productive trip!!

024-04-07 ... Missoula and Yellowstone
Yesterday we spent time with Brad Veis in Missoula, Montana.   Brad has as much experience in our wool as anyone.  A great interview will be posted.

Today, we met a longtime customer and friend who is a Yellowstone ace.  What an amazing place!  Thousands of bison, elk, pronghorn, deer in the Park and adjacent  Paradise Valley.  Also. Moose, bighorn, wolf, trumpeter swans.  The landscape!  

Most of the roads in Yellowstone are still impassable due to  snow.  This pic is from Cooke City, just outside the East Gate of the park.  We had to detour about 200 miles (320 km) to return to Cody, Wyoming!!

 

2024-04-05 ... Road Trip Continues
Wednesday we spent several hours  at the Gillette (Wyoming) Wool Warehouse.  Rancher Bob  Innes provided the lion's share of Batch 9, purchased in 2022, which is now being made into Fabric.  We purchased the Innes clip last year, and that fiber is still here in the Gillette warehouse.  We expect to begin processing this fiber soon.

Each bale. which weighs about 475 pounds, must be weighed, labeled, sampled and stacked.  The Innes clip of 2024 was about 45 bales, and we expect to also purchase this clip, pending test results. 

Yesterday Cody and I visited with Alison Crane, Executive Director of Wyoming Wool Growers.  We had dinner with Advisor Bill McConnell in Bozeman, Montana.

We spent today with Bill and a longtime customer and friend who is a Ranger at Yellowstone National Park.  We did quite a bit of filming and storytelling with Bill.  The bunch of us had lunch with grad student Macy and Director Liz Maxwell at the Montana State University Wool Lab.  We talked wool and Liz did some testing of our samples from the Innes clip.  Liz explained on video how the test machine works.  Bill will be teaching an Experimental Archaeology course at MSU, and Liz plans to enroll.  Very cool!  

After lunch we went to another location for some great video focused on Bill's atlatl.  

2024-04-03 ... Been Busy in Wyoming!
On Friday and Saturday, we were at Innes Ranch in Gillette for shearing.  The 2022 Innes Clip is the biggest component of our Batch 9.  We're still making Batch 9 Fabric, and the new Denim Chore Coats, shipping this month, will be the first Batch 9 products.

Sunday saw us out on the range, shooting pistol and rifle on Open Public Land.  New Jersey has a handful of designated public shooting ranges for licensed hunters, but they are small and highly regulated.  Wyoming has astounding open spaces available for a wide variety of public recreation.

I was mostly loafing on Sunday and Monday, while Cody was doing his thing.  It turns out Zack's neighbors are a ranching, fishing, hunting and stock brokerage family.  Wonderful folks and great for us to work with!

Yesterday, Cody and I spent a few hours with Professor Whit Stewart and the Sheep Program students at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.  We attended a session on Classing Wool, and heard some very interesting perspectives from Whit regarding the usage of paint to mark sheep.  (Paint has always been a NO-NO for us, but Whit gave me some things to think about, and I always like that!)  I was honored to tell the students about WeatherWool, my thoughts on the BRIGHT future of woolens, and possible avenues of research.  Whit also gave us a tour of the Meat Lab.  Cody and I both left with a real appreciation for what is happening on campus and on the research farms.  Something that REALLY caught my attention was the Guard Donkey Program.  Wild donkeys are found in abundance on some federal lands, and the biologists feel the donkeys are causing environmental problems.  The University is adopting some of these donkeys, and those that prove compatible with sheep are fantastic guard animals.  Predation of the sheep is a huge problem for the Ranchers (Bob Innes had a great deal to say about that!) and Whit tells me the Guard Donkeys have been a real success in deterring predators from approaching their adopted flocks.

Today we will leave Casper for about six days on the road in other parts of Wyoming and Montana.

 

Thanks to Whit Stewart and the Sheep Students and the University of Wyoming for your hospitality!

2024-03-29 ... Wyoming
I spent yesterday driving from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Casper, Wyoming.  There is some serious sheep ranching on the lands adjoining Interstate 80!  But WOW, also easy to see it can be a tough place to build a life.  Between the lack of water, the fierce winter and the wind ... But anyway, I was a day late, so

Cody and Carla visited the Thar Ranch in Rozet without me.  Carla, my daughter-in-law, is lifelong Wyoming, and very much at home on horseback.

 

Stacey Thar (at right) and her husband, Zane, have been friends with Carla's family for many years.  On their ranch, the Thars raise cattle and produce Ranch Sorting and Barrel Racing events. 

Carla was on Gus a Palimino and Stacey was on Pearl a Buckskin. THANKS for your hospitality, Stacey and Zane, and very sorry to be a no-show!

2024-03-28 ... SLC
Yesterday, I was supposed to fly through Salt Lake City to Casper, Wyoming, where my son Zack lives, but Delta had a problem and I missed the flight.  But every flight is a good flight if it ends with a soft landing,  whether late or not!

Delta got me a hotel for the night, But they still have my luggage. And I didn't bring a carry on.  I am wearing cotton T-shirt and a dress shirt made from our new LightWeight Fabric, which, lucky for me,  serves quite well as a light jacket and was completely  comfortable during the flight. 

I will probably drive today to Casper.  As an Eastern flatlander, I love driving out West, and I have never driven from Salt Lake City to Casper.

Don't understand how so many people use their mobiles as primary internet tool!  

2024-03-27 ... On the Road
I will be in Wyoming and Montana until mid-April.  Alex and Debby will be handling things.  I will still do some email and talking and probably write a little here from my mobile.

2024-03-26 ... Weird Stuff That Comes Up! ... And Customer News Viewpoint
When the unanticipated pops up I always (almost, anyway) get a smile out of it.  The latest unanticipated bit is that some people have a huge appetite for Weaving Selvedge, which is sheared off each side of a bolt of fabric before the weavers send the fabric on for finishing.  The weaving selvedge contains the same yarn as our Fabric, so it is expensive.

In every one of the numerous steps required to turn raw wool into finished garments, there is loss (reckoned by weight).  Weaving loss is around 10% and the selvedge is the most obvious source of loss.

But anyway, when I found out about the Weaving Selvedge, I figured we'd may as well scoop it up rather than have it mixed with all the other (almost all synthetic) weaving selvedge.  And because our customers (meaning people who wear WeatherWool) like our Fabric Remnants, we've offered Weaving Selvedge as a "little something" that might also appeal to our customers.

But it turns out that weaving selvedge is fairly commonly used by people who turn it into shaggy rugs.  Nice.  Some of these are commercial operations, and now we are beginning to hear from people who want pure wool selvedge for their rug-making businesses.  We also get Selvedge orders from people who are not our customers.  And people have asked for some colors but not others.  I actually re-wrote the Selvedge page to explain it's really just for our customers!

Following on from the customer input and observations of the last couple of days ... We really like that people wear WeatherWool to do all kinds of stuff, both recreationally and professionally.  Some of our customers are maritime workers and one of them commented on the Francis Scott Key Bridge crash:

I'm not at all surprised by what happened to the FSK Bridge.

I’ve navigated under it many dozens of times. The lack of protection was always glaringly apparent.

But the choice was made at the design/build stages to leave the two primary supports unprotected, despite being immediately adjacent to a major shipping channel.

And that was surely because the always-faulty cost/benefit and risk analyses were over-optimistic. They always are.

And, despite the steady expansion of the port and the associated increases in ship traffic and vessel size, and the deepening of the channel, the decision was made to ignore the steadily increasing risks and leave things as they were.

Collectively or individually sticking one’s head in the sand is a behavioral choice, not an inviolable law of the universe.

At any time this could have been rectified, but it was not.

And so it goes…

People are “shocked” by this event. I have no idea why anyone would be.

It’s as if the Sunshine Skyway disaster never happened.

Our blindness is very willful…

Remember the Cosco Busan?

They hit a properly-protected bridge pier on the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge and (whaddayah know!) the bridge didn’t fall down.

Big oil spill, which of course is not good, but the bridge itself was undamaged.

2024-03-25 ... Lending Library Open Again
The Lending Library is fully open again ... outbound and inbound.  Thank You!

2024-03-24 ... Anxiety in the Industry ... (and Celebration!)
Today, I read two messages from Wool Ranchers who wear WeatherWool.  One message was private, the other very public.

The private message gives a glimpse into the emotions of a Sheep Rancher, and, actually, almost anyone in the Ag Sector:

I'm not sure if people realize the stress we as producers face with this- and me being in [location redacted by Ralph] is likely a bit worse because in XXX had some odd weather patterns and it is cold.  I think of myself and my hair.... ok, it rained and I don't get my haircut for a week or two.... I look a little shaggy, my sheep are a whole different ball game.

When is the shearer coming back - he is booked.   We reschedule and will it work out - not only me, but the others that were on the shearer's list.

Then it's your day --- what will happen overnight? ... I kept some inside - do they breathe on each other and get wet???? The ones outside have frost on them ..... will the sun come out and dry them? 

And what happens if the shearer has a mishap and can't make it...

I absolutely love wool, and growing it ..,, but it's stressful and worrisome.

Always a time to celebrate when the wool harvest is finished!

It's great to know there are harvest celebrations in the first days of Spring!

The second message is actually the last few sentences of Brad Boner's (President, American Sheep Industry Association) President's Notes as distributed in the April Issue (April issue not online yet) of Sheep Industry News:

As our government continues to make it harder and harder for us to provide the human requirements of food and fiber for the people of this country, every one of us need to raise the volume and increase our shouting from the rooftops about how these misguided and unprecedented actions are rapidly decaying our ability to fulfill the minimum daily nutritional and comfort requirements necessary to sustain even a minimum standard of living for our people.  These ill-conceived actions put in great jeopardy a continued free and viable population here in the United States of America.

Until next time, try to keep it on the sunny side.

I only know Brad personally a little bit, but I've read and heard and seen enough of him to be sure he wrote with careful consideration and real regret.

Except when customers initiate, which is quite frequent, I try to keep politics out of WeatherWool.  I'm just a guy offering clothing.  My folks taught me religious and political talk should be avoided with people you are not close to ... sports and weather are good small-talk.  But now, it seems like everything is political, including sports and weather.  And Brad's words are important to WeatherWool.

2024-03-23 ... New Chore Coat Offered in a New Way
Our new 100% Wool Denim South Shore Chore Coat can be ordered online now.  This is our first item in Denim!  This is also a little bit of a new direction for us in that we won't be shipping the Chore Coat until mid-April, but the website will accept payment now.  I have a great deal of confidence that Factory8 will complete tailoring as scheduled.  Plus, starting in a few days, I'll be on the road until after Alex begins shipping the Chore Coats, so this seems like the way to go.

2024-03-22 ... Poncho and Proposal
I love hearing what people do in WeatherWool ... but this is a new level!!! ... A customer was aware that I'll be in Wyoming soon, and he wrote to tell me he PROPOSED in Wyoming in his Lynx Anorak.  And she said YES!  The previous night, with the ring secreted in a zippered pocket of the Anorak, she used it as her pillow, completely unaware!  THANKS FOR THIS WONDERFUL STORY, JOE!!

We have completed a small production run of Ponchos in FullWeight, Drab Green Fabric, and a few are still available now that the SHIP ASAP orders have been filled.  We kept this run small because the new Poncho is a huge upgrade from the previous, and we would like to get some feedback before making more.

2024-03-21 ... Denim Products?
We'll soon be releasing our Denim Chore Coat (no website page yet).  Because Denim is so different from our other Fabrics, I decided to offer the Denim in different products than our Jacquard Fabrics.  I thought this would avoid confusion regarding the performance of our different Fabrics.  However, there already sometimes is confusion between our FullWeight and MidWeight Fabrics.  And now I am second-guessing myself about separating Denim products from Jacquard products.  If we already have good garment designs, it makes sense to execute those designs in FullWeight, MidWeight and Denim.  We would love any input on this!!  Thanks!

2024-03-19 ... March 31 Open House Canceled
People can still make an appointment to visit us at almost any time.  But I have had to cancel the Open House that had been scheduled for 31 March.  I did not realize it was Easter Sunday when I scheduled it.  Sorry!  Next Open House will be 28 April, the last Open House until August 25.

2024-03-17 ... Road Trip ... Loans from Lending Library Suspended
In about a week, I (and hopefully Debby) will be heading West to Wyoming and Montana to do some visiting, testing, filming and funning.

I'm shutting down the outgoing Lending Library, and shipping whatever Lending pieces we have to Wyoming because the garments will probably be useful.  People can still return pieces that are already checked out, or send us pieces to add to the Library.  And we'll make any returns or additions available for Lending.  But whatever is here prior to my trip West will be ... I think they call it "wardrobe" in Hollywood?

2024-03-16 ... Wool Denim
Now that we've been focused on wool Denim for a few months, we are seeing other companies advertising it.  Which is surprising, because we began working on it as soon as I heard of it.  I am always hesitant to name other companies because I don't want to engender ill will.  On the other hand, if I only state what is on their own website, that ought to create good will ... essentially repeating what they say about themselves.

Searching for "100% Wool Denim", we don't find much:

Again, we see people describing/naming a product "wool" that is actually <50% wool.

 

2024-03-13 ... Flannel ... American-Made Flannel ... Us!!!
A few people have flagged to me the book American Flannel, by Steven Kurutz.  When Cody brought it to my attention today, I was reminded how I did not know, until quite lately, what Denim is, even though I've been wearing it all my life, like it a lot, and thought I knew what it is.  So, I checked Wikipedia (Opinions on Wikipedia's reliability are all over the place.  Hopefully, their definition of FLANNEL is not controversial.).  And ... not only was I ignorant of what flannel really is ... BUT ... we actually manufacture flannel!!!

From Wikipedia:

Flannel is a soft woven fabric, of varying fineness. Flannel was originally made from carded wool or worsted yarn, but is now often made from either wool, cotton, or synthetic fiber. Flannel is commonly used to make tartan clothing, blankets, bed sheets, and sleepwear.

WeatherWool has been flannel since Day One!!

So ... it turns out that my own uninformed subconscious had the same misconception about FLANNEL as i had about DENIM.  (One of my favorite things is getting whupped upside the head like this.)  I thought flannel had to be cotton.  But given that people have been wearing wool for at least 8000 years, it's not surprising that flannel started out as wool.

Click here for a very short review of the book American Flannel, describing the difficulties of making cotton flannel in the USA.

2024-03-12 ... Denim Charcoal
Cody points out that, due to the nature of denim, our Denim is a true Charcoal rather than pure black.  With denim, tiny bits of the natural, undyed weft peek through the face of the Fabric, much like the way there are tiny reflective flecks in fresh charcoal.  Debby agreed ... so ... from now on, it's "Denim Charcoal" ... and I have some updating to do on this site.

2024-03-10 ... Back to "Normal"?
This past week for us has been family ... all our children and their spouses and grands spent the week here.  Time to get (some rest!) back to work!!

2024-03-07 ... Denim Pants Collab?

In September of 2023, WeatherWool began to experiment with 100% American, 100% Merino-Class Wool Denim. As of 2024, we are putting the Denim into production with our Chore Coats and offering Denim Fabric

We will have more to say about this later, but we're likely to collaborate with a company that makes and offers Pants under their own label.  The Pants above were made by them ... and the Chore Coat made by Factory8.  The Pants were made with actual production Denim Fabric, and the Chore Coat was made from our first crack at Denim.  But both are Batch 9.

Click for more info on WeatherWool Denim .

 

2024-03-04 ... Denim Available
Just added Denim (Black and Indigo) to the "In Stock Now" list.  Denim Black and Denim Indigo can be ordered from the Fabrics page.  We'll have a little Denim White in a few months.  We had not originally planned on making Denim White (which is actually cream-color), but people have liked the idea of our FullWeight and MidWeight White Fabrics.  We use the same fiber to make all our Fabrics, but the fiber in our Naturals is the undyed and unbleached.

2024-03-03 ... Shirt
We made some LightWeight Fabric (6.7 ounces per square yard /  226 grams per square meter) to use for construction of pockets and such.  The LightWeight is made from our own Batch 9 warp yarn.  We hadn't intended any other use, but Alex suggested we make a couple of Shirts ...

WeatherWool has made some LightWeight Fabric, our lightest Fabric ever.  It is 100% pure wool.  We may make some Shirts! … This is tentatively the WeatherWool Range Shirt.

So Advisor JR Morrissey designed and made "The Range Shirt" and it turned out terrif.  In the photo is Debby's and my son, Zack, our CFO.  Zack has been wearing the Shirt quite a bit.  Zack works oil and gas on the range in Wyoming, but he's white-collar now, so a dressy-looking layer of wool in Wyoming's harsh winter is appreciated.

The Shirt is soft and comfortable, even on bare skin.  We haven't really tested it in weather, but it resists wrinkles and soil.   It ought to be good in nasty weather, given that it is 100% wool.

We have no plans right now to offer the Range Shirt as a product, but stranger things have happened.

2024-03-01 ... Looking to Relocate!
For 15 years or so, we've been thinking about moving, for a variety of reasons.  The big push now is coming from WeatherWool.  We operate out of our house, and we're running out of space.  But we've been here 40 years, we love the house, and at this point I think I'd rather rassle a rhino than tackle the tasks attendant to moving!! (Sorry, couldn't help it!.)

Today we looked at another ranch in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Some beautiful land with a lot to like ... but not enough to like to plan on spending, basically, the rest of our lives there.

Got to convince myself this is going to be fun!

2024-02-29 ... Another Great Connection
I've said many times a wonderful benefit of WeatherWool is the people we encounter.

Melissa Shockman has an Instagram account (WoodAndWool.Mel), and I'm not sure, but I think I was not aware that she was a customer until she tagged us in a post.  Mel raises Icelandic Sheep in traditional, old-fashioned ways.  She offers grass-fed lamb meat, wool products, breeding stock ... and naturally tanned sheepskins, one of which arrived at WeatherWool today!

WeatherWool is delighted that Wood and Wool Mel wears our wool AND that we have one of her Icelandic Sheepskin Pelts … IT IS CRAZY BEAUTIFUL!!

The fleece of these Icelandics is VERY long and luxurious and beautiful!!!
Pure, pure white.  My terrible photos are an injustice.  Great work Mel!

WeatherWool is delighted that Wood and Wool Mel wears our wool AND that we have one of her Icelandic Sheepskin Pelts … IT IS CRAZY BEAUTIFUL!!

Besides the sheep, Mel carves wooden fish decoys, which are used for spearing pike through the ice!

It was also a kick to us to see that Mel hunts birds over her Large Munsterlander, a breed that is little-known in North America, but happens to be our choice of hunting and family dog as well!

2024-02-28 ... Chemicals in Clothing
People are becoming more and more concerned about the chemicals in our clothing.  Much of the world has experienced very troubling involuntary declines in fertility.  That would seem the biggest concern, but far from the only concern.  Chemicals used in garment production are drawing a lot of suspicion.  We've done some testing (great results), which was mentioned here a few months ago.  But this is an important subject that we will continue to revisit regularly.  To address the concern over chemicals, and to keep whatever I come up with current and accessible, there is a new question in the FAQ, and a new Chemicals page with the info.

2024-02-27 ... Slot Button Inquiry
We are contacted periodically by people looking to connect with someone mentioned on our website, or with a company that makes something mentioned on our website.  Today, we were contacted by someone from Canada looking to acquire a huge number of Slot Buttons.  As these Buttons are used by the Canadian Military, and are aka Canadian Rail Buttons, I wonder if the inquiry came from the Canadian Military!

2024-02-26 ... Start to Finish Timeline
Our long production timeline is a constant source of frustration.  Some emails exchanged over the weekend with Mike Hillebrand, the owner of MTL, the company that weaves our FullWeight and MidWeight Fabrics, prompted me to update the Start to Finish Timeline page this morning.  Usually, 12-18 months will elapse between our acquisition of raw wool and our shipping garments.

Today's Timeline-update described the diametric mismatch between how MTL needs to weave and what our tailors need for optimal production.  Basically, MTL wants to make a complete run of any given Fabric before beginning the next because switching between Fabrics takes a lot of work and downtime.  When the tailors begin a production run, they want all the Fabrics at the same time.  Getting ALL the Fabrics to the tailors simultaneously creates a long delay.  Having the tailors work on smaller batches (one or two Fabrics at a time) results in higher prices and gives the tailors less time to get comfortable with any given garment.

2024-02-23 ... US Apparel Imports Fall
According to Apparel Insider:

WASHINGTON – US clothing imports plunged by more than one fifth (22 per cent) between 2022 and 2023 according to figures from the US Government Office of Textiles and Apparel. The two biggest exporters of clothing to the USA, China and Vietnam, saw clothing exports to the country fall by 25 and 22 per cent respectively during the period. Clothing exports from Bangladesh fell by 25 per cent and from India they were down 21 per cent.

The rest of the story is for paid subscribers only (not us) so I don't have any further info.  But this is very welcome news, and the size of the decline is remarkable.

Searching quickly, I didn't see any increase in American import tariffs.  And the drop in imports certainly was not because of exchange rates.  Recently, the US Dollar has soared against the Bangladeshi Taka.  And the Dollar is right around 5-year highs against the Chinese Yuan/Renminbi and the Vietnamese Dong.

A lot of people think the US economy is softening, but that might well spur more imports of (low-price) apparel from Bangladesh, China and Vietnam.

Maybe the buy-American movement is snowballing.

THANKS (AGAIN!!) to Apparel Insider for this information.

2024-02-22 ... Backing Off a Little, for a Little While
On Tuesday, a customer wrote Alex to tell him I'd somehow sent him Lending Library pieces for two other customers. (SORRY, TED and ALEX!)  I don't even know how that would be possible.  But I've found myself making some exceptionally dopey mistakes in the wee hours.  And sometimes I've realized I'm just too tired to work effectively.  Yesterday, a fine young man in the UK Royal Marines wrote me.  He's visited here, and we've been corresponding.  His note asked if I was doing OK, because he'd detected a change in my nature.  He suggested I needed some tea (!!!) and some sleep.  He was definitely right.  THANKS LIAM!!  I'm going to back off a little and sleep a little more!

2024-02-19 ... Interesting Activities and (not exactly) Advertising
I've written recently about how we are planning NOT to advertise, at least not in the traditional sense.  Instead, we hope to produce interesting "content" that will be viewed and shared by people who follow us on the various platforms.  And if we can attract enough viewers and enough "sharers", the platforms (Instagram, YouTube ...) will promote our content for us.

For us, a wonderful aspect of WeatherWool is the opportunity to learn about what our customers do in our wool!  And we are delighted with the possibilities of doing video covering some of these activities.

If you can think of some interesting or unusual or important content for us, we'd love to hear about it.

Just this morning we heard from a customer working to control ticks and mosquitoes and the horrible diseases they carry.  That's great stuff and I would never have thought of this myself, but on the other hand, he spends a lot of time in the field, so ...

2024-02-16 ... Another Ultra-Marathon Update

In February of 2024, Serbian Special Forces member and extreme athlete Jovica Spajic rab the Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon, sometimes wearing WeatherWool.  To even attempt a 300 mile run in the extreme cold and darkness of the Yukon winter is amazing!  Jovica is an Advisor to WeatherWool … our expert in EXTREME APPLICATIONS

300 Dark, Frigid Miles Completed!

A couple of days ago, Jovica sent us a follow-up note about his Yukon Arctic Ultra-Marathon (see blog of 2022-02-04).  Part of Jovica's note:

Now, after a few days and time distance and this kind of perspective - yes indeed, it was a hard and challenging race in every possible aspect, but again I am more than happy and satisfy with the final outcome. It's more than a pure running in essential meaning of the word - it's a "journey" and a true test of the human capabilities - both mental and physical...Just a little small mistake and bad decision and it could lead you to the serious injuries, frostbites or even something worse. For me it was some kind of "quest" and I enjoyed in each and single moment, tried to embrace the Yukon nature and become a part of this iconic and epic trail. 

I want to thank you personally and the whole WeatherWool team and family for amazing support, encouragement, humbleness, kindness and willingness to work with me on this project.

Our MidWeight Anorak was absolutely "game changer" during the coldest nights and a perfect match up for the Yukon environment and challenging / changeable conditions. I wear it in several occasions, between the most demanding sections during the race and I have it all the time in my running sled. Literally I have a lightweight polypropylene baselayer below our Anorak and hardshell jacket like additional protection from the elements and it was more than enough to stay dry and to feel comfortable. I am really looking forward to use the products more in the future times and next projects and races. 

It's a true honor, bless and privilege to be a part of such unique team and brand and I will do my best to justify your trust and magnificent support.

Jovica's first language is Serbian, not English.  Nevertheless, he writes so well it makes me feel my own, native English is uncouth and clumsy.

I admit I didn't think much about exactly how one would undertake a days-long run in extreme cold and darkness.  But I did not expect/realize he would be using trekking poles and pulling a toboggan.  I'll find out more from Jovica, but I get the impression that resting involved, basically, camping on the race-route.

In February of 2024, Serbian Special Forces member and extreme athlete Jovica Spajic rab the Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon, sometimes wearing WeatherWool.  To even attempt a 300 mile run in the extreme cold and darkness of the Yukon winter is amazing!  Jovica is an Advisor to WeatherWool … our expert in EXTREME APPLICATIONS

Of the 18 people who started the 300-mile (483 km) race, only 4 finished.  Jovica finished first, by about 50 miles, in course-record time.

As an Advisor, Jovica will be giving us feedback from Serbian Special Forces and input on how the wool can serve in truly extreme situations!  It's wonderful to have Jovica with us!!

2024-02-15 ... Garment Label Update
An update to our garment labels is overdue.  For two or three years, we made only FullWeight Fabric, but in about 2017 we began to offer MidWeight Fabric as well.  (FullWeight vs MidWeight described here.)  And soon we will be offering a Chore Coat (we'll put up a dedicated product page before long) made in Denim, our third type of Fabric.

So it definitely is time to sew into our garments labels that identify each of our Fabrics.  But also, we want to update the rest of the label.  So ... here is the label that will be sewn into the Chore Coat.  We're using the larger label (3 inches, 4.5 centimeters), which is laser-engraved leather.

WeatherWool is working on a new label to affix to our garments (early 2024).  This leather label, engraved by laser, was made by Olies Images (DBA Copper Cactus)

Thanks to Olie's Images, owned and operated by Olie Moss, Zack's brother-in-law, for these amazing labels.

The third line of text may be difficult to read here on the website, particularly in that most of our visitors are using mobile phones (that's another blog topic!!)

100% USA | 100% WeatherWool Certified Fine Wool

We think "100% USA" makes clear that all our components are made in the USA and all our labor is performed in the USA.

As for "100% WeatherWool Certified Fine Wool" ... that's me trying to describe the composition of our Fabrics.  If we went with "100% Wool", it could mean a lot of things.  Same with "100% Virgin Wool" and some of the other descriptors used in the industry.

We are extremely particular about the wool that goes into our garments ... the characteristics of the raw wool, the conditions under which the sheep are raised, the way the wool is sheared, and then cleaned.  We are also extremely particular about the many steps and techniques involved in turning the wool into yarn, and then into Fabric. We applaud the efforts within the wool industry to develop standards for processing and animal welfare.  But there is no direct way to allude to all of this on a garment label.

I've decided that we will define our own standards for the fiber we use, the ranches that are home to the sheep that grow our fiber, and the ways and conditions under which the sheep those sheep live and are sheared.  We've done this all along, actually, but now we'll codify and publish those standards as 'WeatherWool Certified".  And I'll need to create a new page (surprising nobody) on the website that will detail exactly what "WeatherWool Certified" means.

2024-02-12 ... Kodiak Fox from Horstman
Mike Horstman has been "living off the land" ... Kodiak Island, Alaska, actually, for about 35 years.  Mike has been appearing on History Channel's Mountain Men series for over 10 seasons.  A few years ago, Mike became familiar with WeatherWool because the cameramen were wearing it.  Since then, Mike has been wearing our Anorak.  A couple of days ago, Mike gifted me a stunningly beautiful Fox Pelt!

Multiple outdoor professionals involved with History Channel's hit series MOUNTAIN MEN choose WeatherWool.  Mike Horstman, of Kodiak Island, Alaska, gifted us this beautiful fox pelt!!

THANK YOU MIKE!!  The Fox will be admired by all who visit our Showroom!
Kodiak has silver-black color phase red fox.

2024-02-10 ... Adirondack Pack Basket Video
Cody is with Jim Abbott again, in the Adirondack Mountains, making a video of Jim's Adirondack Pack Basket making.  I've spoken with Jim about this ... he's been making the Baskets for decades, and he has a lot to say!  This type of basketry is an arcane, old-times skill, and I was actually more interested in this video than in Jim's (also made by Cody) great trout-fishing video that's already available.

2024-02-09--Again ... Ultra-Marathon Update ... and ... AT Thru-Hiker!
I never was really able to figure out the host website for the Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon ... so I searched for NEWS.  The Ultra has an Instagram page showing Jovica as the winner!  It doesn't look like Jovica used our wool, but no doubt he will update me.  It looks as if he was traveling with the aid of two walking sticks and pulling a toboggan.  I didn't expect that!  It's incredible to me to think of what I've done since Sunday morning (not much, just going thru my usual life) ... and that Jovica was truckin' -- in frigid darkness -- almost that whole time.

Remarkably, speaking of ULTRA, a little while ago I spoke with Arlan M, who will be taking an Anorak with him to Springer Mountain, Georgia, to begin his intended start-to-finish hike of the Appalachian Trail (about 2200 miles / 3540 km).

I'm sure glad there are people like Jovica and Arlan!!!

2024-02-09 ... Another Ultra-Marathon Update ... FINISHED!!??
Thanks to Eric M for his email of a few hours ago, explaining to me that the 300 mile race is actually 310.2 miles!  I was confused by all references on the race website that refer to a 300-mile event.

Right now, at about 1:45AM Yukon time, the website shows Jovica at 309.9 miles ... just short of the finish ... but he seems to have been at that spot an awfully long time!  So, I am still confused.

2024-02-08 ... Yukon Ultra Update (see entry from 2024-02-04)
As of 2AM Mountain Time, Jovica had covered 260 miles (416 km) of the 300 mile (480 km) race.  Jovica is averaging 3 miles per hour overall, and 4.4 miles per hour when moving.  So he has a lot of long, cold distance still to travel.  The race started 3 days and 16 hours ago, and it looks like Jovica has been running about 16 hours per day.  Anybody who would take a shot at this race is a truly exceptional person.  But Jovica is about 90 miles ahead of Americans John Nakel and Daniel Benhammou, who are his nearest competitors!!

2024-02-07 ... "They Never Learn"
HAHA! .. THEY would be ME.  The New Jersey Deer Season is nearly over, and we have not put up any venison this year.  So yesterday afternoon I made a quick run to The Swamp.  Given that this was going to be a short hunt and I was in a hurry, I wore my office clothing ... except for wool socks (yay for that!), everything was cotton, with my old (first thing we made) All-Around Jacket over the top.  Temperature was a little above freezing, and I wasn't going to be out more than a couple of hours, and only a 5-minute walk from the truck.  What could happen?

The first thing I noticed was that the day actually wasn't as still as I thought.  There was a slight, steady breeze that I could feel through what I thought were heavy, tight cotton pants.  Surprising.  And after an hour or so, I could really feel the chill.  Not a problem, but also surprising, and interesting.  If I'd been wearing our own MidWeight Pants, it would have been total comfort.

Between sunset and full dark, I shot a deer.  The tracking turned out to be short and easy, but when I began, I didn't know that for sure, so I was hurrying because I don't want to search for a deer in the dark.  Given that The Swamp has been under water for most of the last 2 months, the place is wet.  Looking for the deer instead of watching my footing, I slipped on wet clay covered with leaves, and totally wiped out into a shallow puddle ... I wasn't hurt, but I was suddenly half-soaked in now-freezing temps.  If I'd been wearing all wool, it would have been annoying, but wool would have handled the water.  The cotton made ME handle the water.

All in all, it didn't matter much.  I found the deer quickly, but spent 90 minutes in cold, wet, muddy, gritty cotton clothes. 

Two or three upsides to this episode (besides the venison):

  • I re-learned the lesson not to wear cotton in the woods, even when "nothing can happen"
  • The AAJ was left in the truck overnight, I didn't even think about it until now.  I predicted to Debby that it would bear no trace of my foolish mishap.  Sure enough, it's dry and clean.  I don't understand that, but ...
  • There are not many things nicer than a long hot shower after you've gotten wet and muddy in cold weather!

 

2024-02-06 ... Ultra Update ... (about 4 AM Mountain Time)
... followup from Sunday and yesterday ...

The race began 41 hours ago, and Jovica has been running for about 34 hours and stopped (resting, I guess!!) for 10 hours.  He has covered about 135 miles and is about 40 miles in the lead.  Yeah ... 40 miles / 64 kilometers ahead of the second place contestant.

I'm not sure whether Jovica is actually wearing anything from us, so maybe I shouldn't be following him here every day.  But I'm just so impressed by what Jovica and the other contestants are willing to undertake ...

I've never been much of a runner, but I did do the New York City Marathon in 1981.  It half-killed me, and I remember thinking about giving up and taking the subway to meet Debby and my friends at the finish line in Central Park.  And although I did not want to quit, my brains were very scrambled from my physical difficulty, and the decisive factor, amazingly, was that it seemed to be easier to simply follow the blue "Marathon Line" to the finish than to negotiate public transport.  Marathon runners sometimes say that anyone's goal is to simply finish, no matter how conditioned you are.  And I did see some guys who looked like serious runners, but were on stretchers receiving medical treatment ... and I saw people who looked like they'd never run at all that nevertheless managed to finish.

At the end of the race, I was in no condition to do much of anything.  Jovica has already run 5 marathons, with about 6.5 more to go!!  Plus, about 3/4 of his running is in the dark, in SERIOUS cold.

Whatever the outcome for Jovica and the others, this is already a tremendous example of the capability of the human mind and body.

2024-02-05 ... Ultra Update (about 2AM Mountain Time)
... followup from yesterday's Blog...

Jovica has been running for about 15.5 hours, and he's covered 60 miles (96 km) as of the last update.  I'm not sure how often updates are available.  It seems like data is updated at certain checkpoints.  Near as I can tell, Jovica is far ahead of anyone else running the 300 mile race, and about 10 miles behind Scott Herron, who is biking 100 miles.

This link:

https://trackleaders.com/yukonultra24

lets you follow the race and filter the data in several different ways.

2024-02-04 ... 300 Mile Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon
And now, the most-extreme entry for the 3rd day of our cold-weather weekend!

Jovica Spajic, of Serbian Military Special Forces, will today begin running the Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon.  There are a few different races rolled into this one event, all starting at 10:30AM today, Yukon time, in Whitehorse.

Contestants choose among running, cross-country skiing or mountain biking.  Contestants also choose a distance of a standard marathon (26.2 miles / 42.16 km), 100 miles (160.9 km), 300 miles (482.7 km) or 430 miles (691.9 km).  Covering the entire distance requires travel from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

Jovica has previously done some intense ultra-marathon running, but he wrote me that he expects this to be the most difficult run yet.  At midnight Sunday morning, the temp was -30C/-22F.

The race starts only 20 minutes after sunrise, and sunset is only 6 hours later.  So the ultra-marathoners will compete mostly in the dark.  The course record for running the 300 miles is 117 hours ... almost 5 days.

Jovica didn't get his hands on our wool until Friday, but he wrote me then that he intends to wear an Anorak.  So, all three of this weekend's "extremers" chose the Anorak, which I keep describing as a moderate-weather piece.

Click here for Live-Tracking

Jovica has a website and an Instagram profile.

2024-02-03 ... Resolute Bay, Northwest Passage, -55C
I guess this is the weekend for people to send me COLD weather photos!  John Hudson trains SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape) to the Military of UK, USA, Canada and maybe others.  It's still a shock to me that people are wearing our Anorak in conditions much more severe than those for which I designed it!!  Doubtless, John has some serious clothing under the Anorak.

John took this photo a few hours ago while working with the SERE Instructors of the Canadian Military.  They are North of the 74th parallel, at Resolute Bay, Northwest Passage.  I think this is the farthest North our wool has ever been.  Temperature is -55C/-67F and it's been dark for about two months.  Likely, this is also the coldest cold our wool has ever seen.  This is much colder than when the US Army had our gear at Ice Camp Sargo.

I completely love that John is wearing our wool, but I have no experience in anything remotely this cold, and can't really comment except to say DON'T DO IT unless you really know what you are doing.  John and the people he is with are professionals.

 

WeatherWool THANKS John Hudson, who trains SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape) to the Military of UK, USA, Canada, for this photo taken 2 February 2024.  John is wearing his WeatherWool Anorak north of the 74th parallel at Resolute Bay.  Temperature -55C/-67F and it's been dark for about two months.

 THANKS for this CRAZY-COLD photo, John!!!

 

2024-02-02 ... Big Lake, Alaska, -35F at Sunrise

We are honored to have a lot of customers in Alaska. I am almost certain that, per capita, Alaska is the State that likes us best. A few minutes ago, Aaron Zulliger of BIG LAKE, Alaska, sent me this photo he took at sunrise today. Weather-lovers know -40F = -40C. Everyone knows -35 is COLD, whether Celsius (-37) or Fahrenheit.

           

WeatherWool THANKS Aaron Zulliger of Big Lake Alaska, for this photo taken at sunrise, 2024-02-02.  Temperature -35F/-37CTHANKS for a great photo, Aaron!  Our Anorak is not designed for this!
(But we love that some people really push the limits!!)

2024-01-30 ..."If you are not moving forward, you are falling behind."

Good day, all you fine folks. Cody here. Ralph asked if I would post a guest blog about some of the changes we've discussed internally at WeatherWool. 

 

Before I jump into that, a short recap of who I am might be helpful. 

I met Ralph in 2017. I had just quit my job of 9 years as a creative director working in luxury fashion. What Ralph was doing was the exact opposite of what the industry was doing at the time, and it interested me. While most companies depended on a business model of lowering production costs, branded white-label products and huge markups to cover the advertising costs, Ralph wasn't interested in any of that. He believed making an incredible product and having excellent customer service would be enough. I loved that. It seems so pure. Instead of buying and tricking an audience, it's genuinely a matter of earning and maintaining one. I wished him the absolute best, genuinely hoping he was right, but I wasn't sure they would pull it off. I sure hoped it would work because the product and the philosophy seemed precisely what the world needed. More quality and kindness and less ego and fast fashion. 

 

Ralph and I stayed in touch over the years as I set out on a life much more connected to wilderness exploration, cooking over a fire and building an off-grid log cabin. I wasn't in any rush to get back into the fashion scene of "who's who, being seen, and this season's trends." I still loved fashion but was more interested in quality items that looked better with age. Timeless fashion that tells a story about your life and who you are rather than following a trend that was coaxed by an industry to generate sales. 

 

Over the years of wearing WeatherWool, I fell more and more in love with it. I wore my CPO and Anorak while felling well over 300 white pine and tamarack trees when harvesting logs for my log cabin. That task is about as tough on a garment as any job can be. Branches jabbing you, chainsaw oil spraying, tree sap sticking, and then there is tossing logs over your shoulder to carry, all while cooking lunch over a fire with sparks flying from resinous woods. It held up incredibly well for such a soft wool, but more importantly was the comfort. Unlike my canvas work coat that I was constantly taking on and off to manage body heat, I was pretty comfortable all day long in my WeatherWool, and that was really the moment I realized why wool is such a classic material that needed to be brought back into the mainstream.

 

The one concern I did have about WeatherWool was the website user experience and the overall branding. I felt the look of the company didn't measure up to the quality of the garments, and I wasn't shy about sharing those opinions with Ralph. 

 

In the late fall of 2022, after a number of conversations, Ralph and Debby officially asked me to become part of the team here at WeatherWool to help out. It was a casual 1-day week type of thing to start, but I was thrilled to get involved with WeatherWool officially. 

 

I realize WeatherWool is already great from a customer perspective. How incredible is it to pick up the phone and call the founder / CEO of your favorite clothing company and talk shop with him whenever you want? But, it takes a lot of overhead money to keep this company operating and inventory in stock. Our wool production starts costing us 12-18 months out before we can even produce garments for sale. WeatherWool is a family-owned and operated true and through, so for these folks to get a solid return on their investment, we need to grow this company just a little more. 

 

Some of you might say, don't mess with a good thing. But we all will benefit from a little growth. It will mean more inventory in stock, new showroom, new fabric development, more product options, collaborations with other incredible brands, and everything you already love about WeatherWool refined, perfected, and expanded. 

 

So with that, all said, in order to grow, we must appeal to a wider customer. A CFO I used to work for once told me, "If you are not moving forward, you are falling behind". We must keep moving forward and accept change is part of growth and staying relevant with the times. We're certainly not going to change or forget our foundation and why WeatherWool was founded in the first place, but we need to attract more people to the brand. No, we're still not going to advertise. But we do need our brand to match the high-end product that WeatherWool truly is for many folks to believe that our garments are as good as they are. We also plan to generate a lot of value-driven marketing, telling true stories of incredible people wearing WeatherWool and giving them a platform to share their skills with all of us. 

 

Over the next six months, we plan to upgrade the website, giving it a tidy-up and making navigation an easy and enjoyable experience. We also want to produce new labels so you can quickly identify the difference between a FullWeight and MidWeight garment. We'll be looking at upgrading our logo and putting a little more thought into a consistent use of fonts, colors and all the stuff that signifies we truly respect our brand, product and our customers. We want to present our garments in the best way we possibly can.

 

So, all this to say, we hope you accept our wishes to evolve. We would appreciate your thoughts on the new logo designs below. If you're so inclined, you can send us an e-mail. I'm cody@weatherwool.com and Ralph would probably also like to hear what you have to say and you can get him at ralph@weatherwool.com

 

Our goal was to freshen it up without changing the integrity and feel of the brand we are so proud of. Our original logo is on top, and the proposed new logo is below.

 

 

 

 

We also plan to launch new labels that will make identifying the Fabric type easy at a glance and clearly identify our new denim fabric.

 

We're also working on refining our traceability program. Each garment will continue to have a unique batch tag so it is clear what wool went into that batch and all the details that go along with production. We're even moving forward on some fabrics that will be made exclusively from one single ranch, and we want to acknowledge those specific ranches with a special label as well.

We know some people don't like change, but hopefully, the only change you experience is one of more products in stock, more options, and a more enjoyable web browsing experience heading into the future. But if anything goes astray, do please forgive us. We're just a family in a house in New Jersey, and a lone Canadian probably stuck in a snowstorm without power.

Thanks for being here,
With Gratitude,
Cody Bokshowan
cody@weatherwool.com

 

 

 

 

2024-01-29 ... Customer Observations ... Customer Reviews
In yesterday's Blog I should MAYBE have mentioned that people send me wonderful reviews every day.  Emails and texts mostly, but also phone calls.  What was unusual about yesterday's note was the source, the thoughtfulness, the level of detail.  Plus the idea of tropical folks looking for cold weather vacations makes me smile whenever I think of it.

One of the visitors at yesterday's Open House has had a long career in Law Enforcement.  Speaking with him reminded me of a customer from one of the Virginias, who is a retired cop.  So I said something like "Maybe this won't surprise you, but one of our customers is a retired policeman who is now a pastor."  And my guest responded "It's not uncommon ... it's the same job -- without a gun."  That's the exact line our policeman-pastor-customer had used in describing his two careers.  WOW!

2024-01-28 ... OPEN HOUSE Today ... Review from Indonesia
We have an Open House today, starting at 11AM.  As soon as I finish this entry I will try to get a couple hours of sleep!

I hardly ever post a Customer Review here, but I really enjoyed this one.  We save almost all Customer Input for internal use, but I thought this worth sharing because it is so carefully done and so amazingly well-written for a guy whose native language is Indonesian.  But also, I love the perspective.

We did not expect orders from tropical places.  In corresponding with these customers, I was surprised that they like to vacation in COLD places.  (Another WELL, DUH! moment.)  Growing up in the New York City area, going to The Islands (that means the Caribbean in Jersey-talk) seemed the ideal winter vacation.  But if you live in Singapore or Jakarta, going somewhere COLD (and maybe even low humidity!) can be very appealing.  Probably this shouldn't have surprised me, but it did, and I can't help smiling when I think about it!

So ... here is a great note and a photo from Radian Irdiansyah of Jakarta, Indonesia!  THANKS, RADIAN!!!!!!!

Hi Ralph,

It's been a while, but now that I have had the opportunity to use my black hooded jacket for a couple of times for a variety of situations, now I finally would love to share a word or two of what I think.  I'll probably have a shorter version of this to paste on your website to help others when deciding.

To summarize all that I have to say, this is one of my favorite buys of all time.  

Having read other reviews, I thought to myself that there have been so many good words said about your products that me saying anything would probably not add much, but then I realized my condition is quite unique - I'm based in a tropical country, as far as it can probably get from your typical buyer.  I also probably will talk more about how the jacket performs for a city day-trip type of person, because you have plenty of very heavy real backcountry users it seems. 

I'm attaching some photos of my trip for reference and also as an appreciation for making such a great product that I hope will stay with me for a very very long time (now that I saw you have a white colored one, maybe one day I'll think of getting something with that color, it would be great!).

I want to share about my most recent trip to Japan this month, when I was there for two weeks and my scene can be summarized as: urban-based winter trip with frequent excursions to rural and mountainous areas. The other feature is that there are two airport layovers (Jakarta and Singapore), which involve higher temperatures (and I wore this jacket all the time... literally all the time... with no discomfort or noticeable sweat).  The thing that people often forget is, even tropical people seldom experience real tropical weather because most of your daily experience is air-conditioned to somewhere in the low 20 (Celsius) or below.

This hooded jacket, in full-weight is PERFECT for me. I don't know the details, but I have known that my body tolerates being warm more and tolerates cold a lot less (probably from my body size and geographical background - so the range shifts and I don't overheat easily, while a full protection is much appreciated when it gets cold). I wore the jacket from the time I left on a cab, walking around in the airport in Jakarta, to when I come back and have to stay overnight sleeping on the airport sofa in Changi airport.  The number and size of the pockets made me able to put everything there (phone, big wallet, power bank and cable, gloves, passport and tickets, airpods, hand sanitizer, tissues, you name it). Going through security, instead of putting things in the tray, I just have everything in the jacket, unzip it easily, put it on the tray, and that's it - that's incredibly convenience. 

As a background, I almost always just used one thing underneath it, a 100% merino 225 gsm long-sleeve shirt, except for the time I went to Enryaku-ji, which is far and particularly harsh (known snow storm). 

One feature people don't think about? I flew economy and wore the jacket on 7 hour flights on a tight space. The material is woven, not knitted, but it FEELS knitted and very flexible, so I put the hood over my eyes to act as sleep mask and wrapped it and moved it around like a blanket - it's softer than my blanket at home. Flights get cold, this is not said enough, and wearing this felt amazing. The choice of having this zipper type instead of the anorak suit me incredibly well. It is sturdy, smooth to move around and incredibly helpful for this use.

The city scene in Kyoto, Osaka, or smaller cities in Japan usually have temperature close to zero Celsius that has a huge range (much warmer in the day, much colder near sunset), windy, and quite a bit of small rains or snow.  Now it is not exaggeration to say that this jacket's true power is in temperature management. Imagine how many hop-on and off you have to do on buses and trains; going to underground markets; walking in parks in a city trip. The closest I have ever needed to get the jacket off is: well, never, it's just unzipping it and it's not even frequent at all. I find that for my body type, I can keep the zipper on even after running around and entering a really heated place and whatever overheating I was experiencing would quickly dissipate once I sit.

As I said, the hooded jacket effectively can replace an entire backpack. I walk into the Nijo castle in Kyoto, for example, received my tickets and the guidebooks, put the tickets in the left inner pocket and guidebooks in the right one. They are large enough for longer booklets, but even when they don't fit, we can just leave the zippers opened inside the jacket. I have my powerbank (15,000 mah powerbank - it's big), so I can easily charge my phone while walking around,  on the outer right pocket, a wool glove, and my iPhone 12 there all the time and still it could fit my hand nicely with space inside.

My chosen color of black works for me as well, as I could blend with office commuters in the morning and not looking like a mountaineer from National Geographic - I often entered the posh department stores where some people wear nice wool duffle coats and thought I looked competitive haha.  Now the sleeves are intentionally made long enough to be able to comfortably cover the hands. I appreciated this so much having to grab handles in trains wearing a backpack and not having the whole jacket shifted up exposing my hips as a result. The ability to quickly tuck the hands under the long sleeves is so priceless during one particular thing in my urban setting: convenience store errands. I attach a photo of how holding the plastic bags with my hand inside the sleeve was such a neat thing. 

There was this morning when I went to where two major rivers of Kyoto meet, it's a very nice scene. It's a rainy morning and was cold. I decided to take some onigiris and milk tea in the convenience store and just ate on the open bridge while enjoying the river view (I attach the photo). This was so amazing as I felt both warm and dry, while the wind was blowing all over on the bridge. I saw everyone walking around with an umbrella (as the Japanese usually do) and thought how great it was to be me at that time.

The jacket was tested quite a bit when I went to Enryaku-ji, which is a temple complex on a mountain that is so secluded that it needs a train trip, a bus trip, and the longest cable car in Japan to get to even the outside of it (then you hike through lush beautiful forest). It was cold, it was windy, it was miserable, and most of all, it snowed A TON. I had my merino shirt and a light 200 something gsm merino hoodie underneath. I stayed bone dry the entire time and I remember having pretty powerful wind that I could feel hitting my hoodie the way it feels when this kind of wind hits my Gore-tex garment (you feel that there is a strong barrier - but this is a fabric that really breathes!).  The feeling of coming out a quiet snowy forest path to a giant complex of ancient red temples covered in snow, with my arms tucked inside the giant soft handwarmers, hoody sealed in place, and everything secured with the jacket is just amazing. 

Now the hood I think is truly a star. It is weighty enough for you not to worry of wind knocking it all over, while comfortable and light enough to not really bother you that you're having it on. It is such a nice feeling when suddenly it gets colder or some strong wind blows and I can just put it on instantly (not like a hat) and it's just sudden comfort. Enryaku-ji was the first time I needed to tighten the hoodie to seal against air going towards my ears. It works like a charm. The adjustment on the back WORKS to make me able to see with my peripheral vision - that's so thoughtful. 

The only potential addition to this product that would be incredible is if there is something covering that area above your chest to your neck or at least part of the lower neck. As you can see in my photos, this was not really a problem for me because I was wearing a thick cashmere neck snood I've always had that blends nicely with the hoodie.

I have also the privilege of a direct comparison with a comparable product, as I happen to also own a Filson Mackinaw cruiser. This product is clearly, clearly superior to it - although if I didn't own your jacket, the Filson is one amazing thing.  First, the mackinaw feels impregnable, but sometimes I could still feel patches of real chill around my arms. The Filson mackinaw FEELS boiled and woven, it really does feel inflexible although to some degree it is comfortable. Wearing the hooded jacket is a delight - I often thought to myself when wearing it, how on earth is something this thick, sturdy, but this soft. I often saw people wearing their synthetic thick coats or down jackets and thought to myself - if only they all knew. 

During my 9 hours layover in Changi on the trip back, when I had to sleep in the airport, I wore the jacket walking around and it even made sleeping on the sofa felt very comfortable, you can make the hood part out as a pillow for example. I swear, I didn't feel stuffy at any point, although it might just be due to my own body chemistry that is different.

The nicest thing about all this is, I'm writing to the person who made the jacket. What an interesting thing for a piece of garment. So again, I would like to convey my appreciation for making such a nice product. 

Oh yes, remember I suggested the convertible mittens sometime ago. I found a company in America (but Austrian wool) that does just that (although I probably won't buy these for now). The one in this link is exactly what I was thinking about. My big problem in super cold condition remains only one: hands. The handwarmers on the jacket are nice, but generally my hands would already be so cold being outside taking photos and other things before being able to put them in. To have something made of good enough wool that also allows me mobility would be perfect. This is the link: https://www.sweaterchalet.com/dachstein-woolwear/dw-3115-adult-mitts/. Please do let me know if you ever have something like this one day.

Again Ralph, thanks and hope for you, your family, and WeatherWool all the best.

Kind regards, Radian - Indonesia

 WeatherWool has customers in dozens of countries, but we are particularly delighted to have customers from the tropics, such as Radian, from Jakarta, Indonesia!

THANKS, Radian, for the entertaining (and kind!!!) review and photos.  And HATS OFF to your amazing English!  Maybe come to NYC for the next blizzard!!??

 

Thanks for the tip about Dachstein Knits.  Over the years, a bunch of people have told me I need to give them a try!

2024-01-27 ... OPEN HOUSE TOMORROW
Tomorrow is our first Open House of 2024.  More and more people are making private, individual appointments, and that's great.  But the Open House days remain very important.  And that means a big chunk of today will be spent preparing for tomorrow!

2024-01-26 ... Backorders
Cody just posted on Instagram a reel that talks about backordering.  This year, we'll be producing more than ever before.  But we still have a very long production cycle, and we need a way to manage backorders.  As we have always done, we happily accept no-obligation, free backorders.  And until lately, I would respond to each backorder with an email explaining how things work, and how leaving a credit card on file with us creates a reservation that will be fulfilled when we eventually ship the item and charge the credit card.

But with the present workload, I just cannot respond individually to all the backorders.  (I also am no longer able to save everyone's contact info in my phone!)  Instead, when we prepare to produce an item, we'll contact everyone with a backorder and give them a chance to create a reservation by upgrading the backorder to SHIP ASAP.

SHIP ASAP basically means if the customer leaves a credit card on file with us, we will make the item for that customer and ship it out as soon as possible.  We won't charge the card until we ship and the order can be changed or canceled even after we ship.  But unless we hear otherwise from the customer, we have our marching orders.

2024-01-25 ... Chore Coats
We have decided to make some Denim Chore Coats.  We'll make them in colors we have named DENIM BLACK and DENIM INDIGO.  You can see some photos of the Chore Coat on the WeatherWool Denim page.  We'll soon put up a page so the Chore Coat can be backordered.  Chore Coat will ship at $495.  Hoping to ship in late April.

2024-01-23 ... Pickups
Yesterday, Alex made a run up to American Woolen Company to pick up some WeatherWool Denim.  And today, I made two runs into NYC's Garment District to pick up some Blanket Coats and FullWeight Drab Anoraks at Factory8.  I also had a short sidewalk-meeting with JR to go over some details of our upcoming Poncho.  We'll be making a relative handful of Ponchos, all in FullWeight Drab Color.  For some reason, I love the impromptu city-sidewalk meetings.  A big part of me is still a 'New Yorker'.

2024-01-22 ... Customer-Tailors
We have long offered our Fabrics for sale, and we always like seeing what people make.  Here are a few photos of a French-style Chore Coat made by a customer from the West Coast for a friend here in New Jersey:

We love seeing what our customers make with our WeatherWool Fabric!

We love seeing what our customers make with our WeatherWool Fabric!

We love seeing what our customers make with our WeatherWool Fabric!

Made with our FullWeight Drab Fabric ...
A great-looking, functional coat ... made by a Great Friend!!

2024-01-21 ... Full Circle
A few days ago we had a wonderful visit from a couple of young men from Norway.  They'd come to NYC to visit friends, but a visit here was part of the plan.  One of our visitors had actually grown up in Texas, but it's pretty typical of Norwegians that even the "totally Norwegian" one had tremendous English-skills.  When I offered pizza or sandwiches for lunch, they politely explained that they eat meat only if it is wild.  So we had pizza and some New Jersey (whitetail deer) venison, which they really enjoyed.

Debby reminded me that I've not yet brought home any venison this year, and we are almost out.  While Debby was certainly happy to have me home from my October moose hunt in Vermont, she would have been considerably happier if I'd come home with a moose.

People are usually surprised to hear Jersey is a great place for a venison hunter.  In large parts of the State, the season is >5 months long, with no limit on antlerless deer.  And we are fortunate to have The Swamp, our own little place only a short drive from home.  But it's not called The Swamp for no reason.  If it's been raining, it's flooded.  And we've had a lot of rain lately, with water levels reaching the official Major Flood Stage, and remaining at Flood Stage for weeks.

I don't think the whitetails really mind the water very much.  They can find enough high ground for bedding, and they'll walk through water -- or swim -- without hesitation.  But as is typical for winter around here, after it rains we get a cold front.  So The Swamp is full of water, with ice and a couple inches of snow on top.  Deer hate ice.  But I think they hate snow-covered ice even more.  And probably even worse than that is what happens at our place after a couple of days.  The water comes up high, and freezes, then it starts to drain away, but the snow-covered ice stays in place, with nothing much to hold it up.  Deer sign was remarkably scarce.  In this kind of cold, icy weather, they seem to hunker down and wait for a thaw.  But the tracks I did find were sort of pitiful.  What happens  ... the deer's feet were going out from under them even when the ice held, but in most places the ice doesn't support them, so they break through the ice and slide.  Sometimes, The Swamp is filled with the sound of ice-shelves collapsing everywhere.  It sounds like windows being broken.  Once, I was plowing through the woods, crashing the ice and making a crazy racket.  I was shocked to walk right up on a bunch of deer.  They were so accustomed to hearing smashing ice that my bull-in-a-China-shop approach didn't attract their attention!

But what the deer hate, the waterfowl love.  Flights of Canada Geese and Mallards were all around.  And this icy January weather with high water is also heaven for the otters.   There are certain spots where the otters trade between the river and the lake, and you can clearly see where they toboggan themselves down the riverbank.  My impression is that the fishing is really easy for them in the cold water.  I've watched them just sort of playing around in the lake, chomping on fish, then diving down and coming up quickly with another.

As for Debby's venison, we'll see.  We need a thaw and a dry stretch, which is a tall order this time of year!

But regardless of weather, this is sort of full-circle for me ... I started WeatherWool because the outdoor clothes I wanted didn't seem to exist.  And in those days I didn't at all like the work I was doing.  And I was always longing to do something else, such as hit the woods.  Now, although I still love the woods, I have so much work to do ... work that I really like to do (!!!), that I can't really enjoy the woods the way I would like to!

PS ... Temp was about 20F/-6C and breezy.  I wore a MidWeight Hooded Jacket over a cotton T-shirt, cotton shirt and cotton sweat pants.  I was moving around for about 90 minutes, and this was a good set of clothing for what I was doing.  I was also wearing cheap synthetic-mesh sneakers and quality wool socks.  I broke thru the ice many times, getting my feet wet repeatedly.  But the wool handled the water easily.  If I had planned to be stationary, or hunting, I would have dressed entirely differently.

2024-01-19 ... Remnant Blanket
A customer just sent me a couple of photos of a Blanket he made with our Fabric Remnants.  It took a tremendous amount of time (The customer said NOBODY should think a Remnant-Blanket is a way to save money!), but a great Father-Daughter project resulted in a fine Blanket and finer memories.

WeatherWool tailoring remnants make interesting pillow stuffing! And whatever else people might be able to think of. Quilting projects, insulation, ground cloths … BLANKETS!

WeatherWool tailoring remnants make interesting pillow stuffing! And whatever else people might be able to think of. Quilting projects, insulation, ground cloths … BLANKETS!

WeatherWool tailoring remnants make interesting pillow stuffing! And whatever else people might be able to think of. Quilting projects, insulation, ground cloths … BLANKETS!

 

2024-01-16 ... AI and AI
Not long ago, Rancher John Jewell phoned me.  John grows some of the best fiber there is, and we are honored that John chooses to place his clip with us.  My son Zack and I spent a few hours with the Jewells some years ago, and I was very impressed with the extreme amounts of data John has on his sheep, and the depth of analysis applied to that data.  So when John talked about AI, it made sense -- sort of, at first, that he would apply Artificial Intelligence to all this number-crunching.  But John talked some more, and mentioned AI a couple more times, and it didn't make any sense at all until I realized he was referring to Artificial Insemination.

This story got a few laughs on Saturday night at the Sheep Convention when one of the leading breeders, an admirer of John's fiber, mentioned many visits to Australia to acquire the "material" needed for AI on his Stateside ranch.

I guess if there is confusion over AI, it's better to be mistakenly thinking Artificial Intelligence than to be mistakenly thinking Artificial Insemination.

Today, I used some (sort of?) Artificial Intelligence-type AI to correspond with a customer in France.  The web-based language-translation software might not be great, but it seems entirely adequate to enable basic communications for me in French, Korean and Japanese.  That freely available web-services (these from Google ... just go to Google.com and type "translate English to Japanese" in the search bar) enable me to communicate with people who have no English is really wonderful.  I've also used it a little for Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Spanish, Swedish and maybe more.  Except all these customers actually had serious English skills and the translation software was more fun than necessity.

2024-01-15 ... Fashionistas and Enviros and Bureaucrats Backing Into Wool
One of the things I talked about at the Convention (entry of 13 Jan) was how the fashion industry is sort of backing into wool because of environmental concerns.  I say they are "backing into wool" because they are not really interested in the performance of the garments.  The fashion folks are getting more and more concerned about environmental issues and pollution, tho, and they like the environmental friendliness of wool.  It seems crazy to me that they don't care what wool clothing does for the people who wear it.

Today in the trade press (THANKS AGAIN to Woolmark!) I am reading about Extended Producer Responsibility.  EPR holds producers responsible for management of the eventual disposal of their products.  France and Sweden have already implemented EPR for textiles, and the EU is working on it.  For companies making woolens, EPR is much less of a problem than for companies making synthetic clothing.  And for WeatherWool, making garments that are wool, wool, wool, EPR would be a minimal problem.  I guess we'd need to address zippers, buttons, etc., but our Fabric would be loved by the "make good garbage" folks.  I guess imposition of EPR would actually be a competitive advantage for us.

2024-01-14 ... ASI Talk ... HOME (Office!)
People actually seemed interested in what I had to say at the Convention (see previous entry)!!  WeatherWool was the only "outside" speaker ... meaning everyone else was directly involved in the ASI.  I had thought there would be a bunch of others.  THANKS AGAIN for having me!

Debby and I left Denver early this morning and were home by about 1PM.  We had a very quick and impressive demonstration of the extent to which humidity affects perceived temperature.  The temp at 3AM in Denver was -7F/-22C.  Debby was very surprised when I told her the temp, and we agreed it didn't FEEL any colder than 25F/-4C in New Jersey, where we have much more humidity.

It's good to be "back in action" after two weeks on the road.  But it's going to take me a week to catch up!

2024-01-13 ... ASI Convention, Denver

The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) is holding its 2024 Annual Convention in Denver from 10 through 13 January.  They have honored us with an invitation to speak for 15 minutes to the 150-member Board of Directors, and this is what I plan to say.

************************

THANK YOU for this invitation!  And THANK YOU to everyone who has created and maintained our American Sheep and Wool Industries.  Our company, WeatherWool, builds upon decades and centuries of  work of many teams of people in many disciplines.

My name is Ralph DiMeo, from New Jersey.  In 2009, we started WeatherWool, a company that makes 100% American Woolens.  We buy greasy wool with the help of Bob Padula and Mike Corn, and with the help of our many Partners, we turn the greasy into Fabric and clothing.  I'm wearing some of our clothing, and there are a couple of pieces available if anyone would like to examine.

Compared to so many of you, we are the new kids on the block. We try to be transparent about everything we do -- it's almost all on the website --  but absolutely if you have any questions or concerns, pick up the phone and talk to me.

 

I've been asked to speak about

  • how WeatherWool came to be
  • challenges faced
  • opportunities for WeatherWool and the wool industry in general
  • anything else

The first topic, origin of WeatherWool, is very simple.  I'm a lifelong hunter and a lifelong office worker.  I wanted wool hunting clothes as comfortable as the wool I wore to the office.  But I couldn't find them, so Debby and I decided to try to make them.  And do so 100% USA.

The second topic, challenges, is also simple.  So much of our garment industry has been "offshored", and so many people wear primarily synthetics, that there is very little domestic capacity left for making woolens.  That's not meant to disparage anyone, just a statement of fact that there is a lot less domestic production than there used to be.  We have found great people to work with, no issue there.  But we need a whole lot more demand to ensure US domestic production thrives and grows.

And that leads to the third topic ... opportunities ... which is really what I'd like to talk about.  We need to create much much more demand.  Everybody here probably knows that full well.  But we're very amped up about it!

I will offer here what I have learned from speaking with thousands of people about clothing.  THANKS to all of them and in particular a few who contributed ideas for my yakking today. 

  • I see enormous opportunities for growth of woolens because people, worldwide, don't wear very much of it ... far less than in generations past.  The decline of wool has been driven by the advent of inexpensive synthetic clothing that has been very effectively marketed
  • But the annual apparel and shoe market in the USA and Canada (no duties on US wool) is approaching $500 billion.  And American clothing is only 2-3% wool.
  • Worldwide market is maybe two trillion dollars annually.  Consumers in Europe and Asia are very keen on US quality.  There are huge opportunities abroad.
  • Wool makes much better clothing than the synthetics, but very few people know what wool can do!
  • Most people, without any real reflection, think they know wool, but they don't.  Everyone has had some experience with wool, very frequently not good experience.  Everyone knows that there is great variety in cars, but people don't realize that woolens are like cars ... a lot of variety is possible.  People will remember an itchy jacket from high school, and that puts them off wool until they are shown something different
  • We need to educate the public about how/why wool makes great clothing ... healthier clothing! ... and bedding, and rugs, and ...  This is akin to a public service.  Seriously ... this type of education is much more than an industry promoting itself.  People wear a lot of clothing that is ineffective AND unhealthy.  The educational materials must be interesting and entertaining.  Maybe hosted by a celebrity.  In 1977, Orson Welles narrated a great wool video for the American Sheep Council, which I think became ASI.  Welles' video focused on production -- good stuff -- but people need to learn WHAT WOOLENS CAN DO FOR THEM.  Most people have no idea!  A customer from Australia wrote me that even there, people don't know what wool can do. Telling people that wool is CLOTHING MADE BY NATURE captures their attention.  The public generally holds the viewpoint that our manufacturers have surpassed Nature.  Jet planes and cell phones are awesome and wonderful, but people don't realize these technologies are cupcakes compared to the functions within every single cell of our bodies.  I try to make people aware that "modern synthetics", "technical fabrics", "poly- micro- FLEECE(!!!!)" are as nothing in comparison with the functional sophistication of a fiber that has been created by Nature to do almost exactly what we ask of it.  This is the most effective avenue I've found toward re-oriented public perspectives.  But I've also found it's sometimes important to be gentle about it.  Many people have huge investments in their synthetics
  • Environmental concerns.  It's been a surprise to me to learn that the fashion industry seems to view clothing as fashion (duh ... i know), and they focus almost completely on what garments look like.  They don't seem to care, for example, that wool keeps people comfortable over a much wider range of temperature than synthetic.  But lately, the fashion people are focusing on the environmental impacts of clothing.  Wool and sheep are great for the land and the environment, whereas synthetics are awful.  Environmental concerns may well be the hook that brings the fashion industry over to woolens.  Wool is much more environmentally friendly than synthetics.  Wool does not shed micro-plastics, is longer-lasting than synthetic, is biodegradable, uses much less water.  The sheep enrich the soil.  Sheep are even keeping the grass short in solar-panel farms
  • Health concerns ... more and more research is showing a lot of the clothes we are wearing, whether due to the composition of the garment or the chemicals used in preparation, are unhealthy.  Public concern in this area is growing and wool can be in the forefront of a movement toward healthy, natural, chemical-free clothing
  • Bedding (not just blankets) and even sleepwear can be a large market for us.  Particularly for babies and children.  And this actually ties in with both health and safety.  Wool's non-flammability is a really big deal. And while it is true that synthetics are not as dangerous now as in this dramatic old video from New Zealand, the flame-resistant additives bring dangers of their own from which wool is completely free
  • Naturally Colored Wool (black, brown, gray and more) is going to be huge.  The beauty will have wide appeal and the lack of chemical dyeing will appeal to those with environmental and/or health concerns.  And not just clothing.  Wool upholstery, rugs and wall-coverings will grow in importance as our buildings become more tightly-sealed and we employ wool to remove noxious chemicals from indoor air.  I don't know these other markets, but what I do know is that people simply like NATURAL products more than synthetic.  People like leather more than vinyl.  Wood more than fiberglass.  Stone over concrete.  And given a taste of serious wool, they will prefer it to the synthetics
  • We need an easy, effective and inexpensive way to protect woolens from moths
  • The public likes the idea of sheep, wool, American Family Ranches.  There are many people who will "pay up" for American ... and not just Americans, but also Canadians, Europeans, Asians, Australians.  "Made in USA" has global appeal
  • Public appetite is shifting toward quality over quantity.  American manufacture must compete on quality and service, not price
  • The public loves transparency
  • WE -- THE SHEEP INDUSTRY -- SHOULD WEAR WOOL.  AMERICAN WOOL.  Flip through the Sheep Industry News and you won't see much, if any wool clothing

13 January 2024 --- Ralph

 

2024-01-11 ... Alex is Shipping

Sorry to have fallen behind.  Alex is back in the office now, and shipping as fast as he can.  A couple of us in the family have tested positive for the Covid, and Alex seems to have it now, too.  But still working.

Debby and I at Sheep Convention in Denver until Sunday.

 

2024-01-09 ... Starry Night

Living just outside NYC, our nighttime sky has few visible stars, mostly because of so much artificial light.  So when we can, we like to take in a starry night.  This photo was shot while we were waiting for darkness in the desert outside Phoenix, Arizona, relatively far from artificial light.  Wow, the desert sky is beautiful!!!  Shooting stars and a visit from a curious kit fox were nice bonuses!!  Thanks to (family) tour guides Olie and Brenna!!

 

Some of the WeatherWool crew in the desert outside Phoeniz, AZ, January 2024

On the left is son Zack, our CFO (in my CPO), nephew Ian (Anorak), me (Anorak), Debby (Blanket Coat), Alex (prototype Black Denim Hooded Jacket).

 

Olie Moss (Olie's Images), part of the WeatherWool extended family, shot this saguaro near Phoenix Arizona)

Zack's brother-in-law, Olie Moss, created this image in the same general area.

2024-01-07 ... ASI Convention Talk
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) is holding its 2024 Annual Convention in Denver from 10 through 13 January.  They have honored us with an invitation to speak for 15 minutes to the 150-member Board of Directors.  I'm working on my talk, and any input would be great.  I think what I can offer the industry insiders is what I have learned from speaking with thousands of people about wool clothing.  Here is what I have prepared so far.  THANKS!!

2024-01-05 ... Lynx Again
Jesse M, a customer from the Los Angeles, California area, phoned me this morning to tell me about his experiences so far (about 3 weeks) with his Lynx Pattern CPO.  Jesse has been wearing WeatherWool for two years, but this was his first item in Lynx Pattern.  In the short time he's had the CPO, he said numerous people have admired the garment and wanted to touch it.  Jesse had not seen the 3 January Blog!

2024-01-03 ... Lynx Pattern In LA
Debby and I are visiting our son, Zack (WeatherWool CFO) and his family in Phoenix.  Zack lives in Casper, Wyoming, but rented a place in Phoenix for a month to help shorten the winter.  I haven't eaten oranges picked off the backyard tree in ... a long time!!!!  Fresh-picked fruit is super!  Alex will be joining us on the 5th and so we won't be shipping anything until he gets back to the office on the 9th.  Sorry!!  But this has been a long stretch of long weeks and we all needed a bit of a break.  But actually, we've got some WeatherWool meetings planned, too.

Debby has close family on the West Coast that we rarely see.  Everyone will understand how time just slips by.  And we didn't want to miss the opportunity to see them.  So yesterday we drove West from Phoenix to Los Angeles for a big family dinner.  Debby's Cousin reserved a private room in a ritzy restaurant and we had a great evening.  Debby is on the shy side, and it was a little funny to see her the center of attention ... really, Debby and Aunt Harriet ... who makes age 95 look like 65.  Harriet is amazing and inspiring!!

I wore a Lynx Pattern CPO (over a light cotton T-shirt) during dinner, and was very comfortable in the restaurant and outside in temp of 50F/10C.  After dinner, we were lingering outside, a few feet from a very elegantly-dressed couple.  The gent was probably about 50, and he remarked to me THAT IS A NICE JACKET!  I replied with thanks and what may have seemed a disrespectful or dismissive or, at least, mysterious, remark that I'd made it myself.  But when people comment on my WeatherWool I feel like I should say something.  And Lynx is what folks notice.  However, the family chimed in and pushed me to explain.  The stranger offered that he is definitely not in the habit of commenting on other men's clothing, but he was very interested in the CPO, so I gave him a card.

It's a weird thing, but whenever I speak to people about our colors, I feel bound to warn that those who don't want to be noticed should avoid wearing Lynx in public.  I've never heard of Lynx being rejected as inappropriate, but it's not going to be overlooked (except it disappears in Natural settings!)!