How WeatherWool Is Made
This photo is from a 3-minute video made available on YouTube by Woolmark, the wonderful outreach and education arm of the Australian Wool Industry. We frequently cite materials produced by Woolmark, and we're really grateful for their work and the sharing! The video packs an amazing amount of information in a very short time. I should note that although the film correctly notes that shorter woolen fibers are usually used for woolens (confusing, I know) rather than worsted, WeatherWool uses long fibers that would otherwise almost always go worsted.
[There is a separate, short page, From Start to Finish, that focuses on the calendar time elapsed in the steps below.]
Here is a list (and no doubt it will grow) of the areas in which our Partners help us make WeatherWool. The list is in the rough order of involvement in our production processes. And we -- WeatherWool -- are involved to some degree with almost all steps.
My original ideas have not changed since 2009 when I founded WeatherWool.
Hardcore Luxury® ... meaning garments that offer very hardcore performance that will be favored by people doing really intense things. But that performance must be delivered in a luxurious garment that is a pleasure to wear and desired even by people who do not need hardcore performance.
So step one was finding a person who believed that such garments could be made, and that actually took quite a while ... probably 100 phone calls and emails and several months. But finally I found International Wool Consultant and now WeatherWool Advisor Bob Padula. Bob understood what we wanted to do, believed it was possible and knew the type of wool we needed ... because it's the fiber he's been breeding on his ranch! Essentially, we want very strong fiber that measures 21 microns thickness and is close to 4 inches (10 cm) in length.
Next we had to find a place to get the fiber that met our specs, and Mike Corn, who is also now a WeatherWool Advisor, is a rancher producing the fiber we need (although that depends on the weather in New Mexico). Mike also is a partner in America's largest fine wool auction house, and can help us find more of the fiber we need. It may actually have been Mike who put us in touch with Padula. Or it may have been the other way round.
The following list shows the people involved in our production chain, from start to finish
- Shearers ... we don't know any of the shearers yet, but the link will take you to the page on PM (Padula's Ranch), which has some photos of shearing there
- Truckers ... the wool needs to get from the Ranches to the Auction House. The wool, the Fabric and the garments do a lot of traveling.
- Wool Auction House and purchasing agent ... Mike Corn and Roswell Wool
- Wool Samples Taken ... the bales of raw (greasy) wool must be sampled in a very specific way, with specific equipment. Only a few places can do this, and Roswell is one of them. Bollman, where our wool has been scoured, is another.
- Wool Testing Labs. The wool samples must be tested by an independent lab, and we purchase the greasy wool based very detailed analysis of very comprehensive lab testing ... USA is in transition now. The lab that had served for many years shut down when proprietor Angus retired at age 85 or so. For 2020 and 2021, testing of American wool was performed by a lab in New Zealand. This comes close to crossing the line on our pure-American standards, but it's testing, not processing. The samples are not returned to the States ... only the results. Testing for 2022 will probably be done in New Zealand. Testing will be done in Texas in 2023 and beyond, hopefully ... but not looking likely!
- Advisors: Bob Padula and Mike Corn help me decide which lots of greasy wool are most suitable for us, and how to best to obtain that wool
- Wool Scouring (Cleaning) by Bollman and Chargeurs
- Fabric Engineers ... Advisor Rob M. Stuart is a consultant to us directly, and American Woolen Company and Material Technology and Logistics each have a team of pros
- Wool Dye House ... a little bit of an open question now, and a big hurdle for us to overcome. We are working on getting comfortable with Tintoria Piana, and American Woolen will hopefully soon be dyeing again
- Wool Yarn Spinning Mills ... Kentwool Yarn, American Woolen Company, Burlington Fabrics, Crescent Woolen Mills
- Wool Fabric Mill for the finishing processes ... Fulling, Sponging, Drying, Napping, Shearing ... American Woolen Company
- Wool Weaving Mill ... Material Technology and Logistics of Pennsylvania
- Wool Knitting Mill ... Tailored Industry of Brooklyn, NY
- Suppliers of Thread, Buttons, Zippers, Zipper Pulls, Cords, Cord Locks, Labels, Mouton Furs
- Garment Design and Production Consultants ... The Factory8
- Garment Production Professionals / Tailors ... Better Team USA, The Factory8 (includes Designers, Prototype/Sample Makers, Pattern Maker, Graders, Markers, Cutters, Sewing Professionals)
- Quality Control / Inspections ... QC happens at several points in the production process ... during scouring, spinning, weaving and finishing of Fabric. The more familiar steps of QC -- garment inspection -- occur three times ... once with the sewing pros, then with Factory8, when we take delivery of garments from the tailors and sometimes again when we prepare a garment for shipping to a customer. This page details the final QC for our Anorak.
And there are others, too, that are critical but not directly part of production:
- WeatherWool's Advisors (Your Advisors, too!)
- Accountant: Rick Hodgman CPA, WestWood NJ
- Information Technology Support by Steven Martinez
- USPS ... Hooray for Bernie!
- UPS ... Troy is fantastic
- DHL ... Often used for international. Best service to Canada
- Ralph's Rapid On-Demand Transport ... I will move up to about 3000 pounds as needed within a few hours drive of home. Saves time
- Intellectual Property Lawyer ... Polson Intellectual Property Law
- Models (both for "fit" and for photo shoots) ... Fazon Gray, Fisher Neal and Chase Burnett are all WeatherWool Advisors
Lot of work to do ... many of the pages I've linked to don't have much info. Working on it ... For example, Factory8 has lately sent me a lot of photos detailing the steps in putting together the All-Around Jacket ...
8 October 2022 --- Ralph