2020-04-08 ... WarriorWool Donation
Today, WeatherWool's WarriorWool Program received a donation from Jonathan Drouillard, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, who directed his donation to the USMC Scout Snipers.
2020-04-07 ... Almost 19
Our old pup, Camo, was whelped in April of 2001. She'll be exactly 19 soon, but the Magnolia blossoms won't wait ...
2020-04-06 ... TOO SECURE?
We have always been really happy about how secure our Slot Buttons are. Today we got a photo from a customer that I thought was good, but Debby and the customer thought was a negative, indicating the Slot Buttons are too tightly bound to the garment:
This customer is a farmer who wears his WeatherWool just about all the time, and he is very hard on it. Not sure what he did, but rather than pull free from the garment, the Slot Button ripped through the buttonhole. We'll fix the ShirtJac, but our customer wants to hang onto it until the new ShirtJac he just bought (he has a lot of WeatherWool) reaches him.
2020-03-31 ... Pipeline
There are about a dozen products that are in our "pipeline" ... some are just ideas, some we have been prototyping for years. I decided to create a new group of products, "Pipeline", that can be seen under the main "Shop" tab at the top of all pages on this website. I'll be filling in more and more info for all of the Pipeline items in the coming days. We always love input, and in the case of Pipeline, we need input more than ever.
2020-03-26 ... WeatherWool on TV ... NOT (yet)
We were pretty happy that two cameramen from a well-known TV show like their WeatherWool enough that they shared it with 'the talent', who liked it well enough to contact me. So we provided some wool to two of the people who appear on camera, seen by millions, and we were really looking forward to watching the show! But Corona virus has put a stop to filming ...
2020-03-24 ... Corona World ... BEST WISHES TO ALL!!
As if everyone doesn't already know, things are mostly shut down because of the virus. We are out of Fabric, and the mill working to make more for us is severely hampered by Corona, like just about everyone else. Our tailors are closed down, too ... Although New Jersey is officially closed, we are open for business, pretty much, but we have very little inventory. (There are also pages on this website that we keep current with production status and backordering.)
Yesterday, we had some pretty good freezing rain and a moderate breeze. So I took a nice little hike and posted about our sentimental-favorite original All-Around Jacket:
Freezing Rain + Wind = WoolWeather! ... I love this old jacket because it's the very first garment made from what became our production Fabric. Back in 2012, after three years of R&D, this is the first garment that passed field tests, and it's still my main garment for field-wear. This morning, the temp was just above freezing, breezy, steady rain with a little ice mixed in. Good for hiking the local woods ... About 4.25 miles (6.8 km) ... Ideally, I would weigh 165 pounds (75 kg). But really, I weigh 280 (127 kg), and that means, unless sitting still, I stew inside typical rain gear. So I wore my old jacket -- with no base layer, and it worked great. The rain didn't penetrate, and I didn't overheat or feel a chill. The Big Brim Boonie Hat can handle crazy rain. This old jacket, after several design changes, became our current All-Around Jacket. One change we made was adding flaps over the cargo pockets, so rain is channeled down and off the jacket, and doesn't drown whatever is in the pockets.
2020-03-16 ... WarriorWool for United States Coast Guard
We recently sent an Anorak to Kodiak Island, Alaska, where the weather is famously difficult. When the recipient picked up his wool, he was accompanied by a friend serving in the United States Coast Guard, at Base Kodiak ... soon we will have someone in the USCG testing an Anorak. Interestingly, people who are out in the weather a lot tend to go with the MidWeight ... and, even for use out on the Bering Sea in crazy conditions, this outdoors-pro wanted MidWeight.
2020-03-06 ... Shemagh ... and ...
Input from a prospective customer has caused me to rethink / re-purpose our Shemagh. I received a note from a gent who spends a great deal of time -- several months per year -- outdoors, living in Nature, limiting his kit to what fits in a ruck. His gear needs to be high quality and versatile.
2020-03-02 ... Perspective of a Potential Customer
This evening we received a note on our CONTACT FORM:
You seem to be sold out of just about everything. Maybe you should invest in stepping up production so you don't lose so much business. If I want something that costs a lot of money I certainly don't want to wait who knows how long for it.
As a business owner myself you got to decide if you want to remain small time or take a risk and go bigger. It's a gamble but how a business grows. The hardest part is starting the business in the first place and you are over that. Just giving you my thoughts. -- Chris
As a result of Chris's note, we have added more information to our Production Status page. It had not occurred to me that people would think our lack of inventory and slow production cycles are due to a lack of commitment or capital on our part. We WISH we could get our Fabric by simply writing checks. Our situation is a reflection of the greatly reduced capacity of the American wool industry. And THANKS to Chris for opening my eyes to something that a lot of people were probably thinking!
2020-03-01 ... New wrinkle ... New Advisor
WeatherWool has always been in a little bit of a weird spot ... the people who can most afford us tend to be older city people who don't need our performance ... and the people who need our performance tend to be younger and rural and not as likely to be able to afford us.
"Hardcore Luxury" has been our registered trademark since we started WeatherWool. We believe that comfortable and luxurious garments are pleasurable to wear, and therefore more likely to be on-hand when hardcore performance is unexpectedly needed ... and it is mostly "the unexpected" that causes problems. And so we feel "luxury" actually supports "hardcore" in a very important way.
But also, the "hardcore" can complement and enhance the "luxury". And the funny thing is, the luxury market offers products that are routinely more expensive, often far more expensive, than WeatherWool, and generally they don't perform. Nobody expects a name-brand designer garment to offer any protection against anything at all ... or to last for years.
We will soon announce a new Advisor ... our first Advisor whose experience is in fashion and luxury rather than the outdoors. We've been working with him for a while as a model, and he has actually been wearing WeatherWool to some fashion-shoots simply because he likes it ... and he tells us it's attracted a lot of very positive attention. I'm sure quite a few fashion and luxury-oriented people will like wearing something that is also worn by some of the most hardcore people going.
2020-02-29 ... So many (Merino!) Base Layers
It's a source of frustration for us that we hear so often from people wearing base layers that seriously impair the performance of wool. I've been corresponding with a guy in US Military ... it aggravates us that anyone in the US Military is not equipped with great clothing ... but in this case it aggravates me more than usual because of the difficulty and importance of the work assigned to US Special Forces. Compared with the gigantic sums spent on our Military in general and in particular on Special Forces (per individual), it's crazy that these guys are not issued top-notch clothing. Obviously, I couldn't be more biased about the importance of clothing. But on the other hand, it was my view toward clothing that got me involved in all this in the first place.
Anyhow, two things from this morning got me started on this tangent ... ONE ... I saw an ad for a yet another company I'd never before heard of that offers merino base layers. There are more and more companies offering wool, particularly wool base layers, and this makes me happy! ... TWO ... I have been corresponding lately with someone testing WeatherWool for use by one of America's most extreme Military units. He told me that after his polyester base layer got soaked with sweat, the MidWeight Anorak didn't provide enough warmth or wind resistance. My (haughty, now that I think about it) response was that we more or less disavow any testing where synthetic base layers are involved. But the tester pointed out ... polyester is issued, and many of them simply cannot afford to buy with personal funds anywhere near all the gear they'd love to have. Well ... there isn't anything I can do about that, at least not right now ... and there isn't anything I would try to change about WeatherWool to compensate for polyester base layers. BUT, the more people making merino base layers, the more likely the Military will issue them (I hope!!).
2020-02-26 ... Great Feedback
This evening a customer from British Columbia phoned. He works construction, and he is outdoors, year round, all-day, in all kinds of weather. He said he's worn his Anorak in FullWeight Fabric almost every day since he received it in July ... and he phoned to tell us how happy he is with it, and how it doesn't seem to matter much what the weather is doing, or what he is doing ... he wears it and he's good ... and he wears it indoors, too. Of course, this is what we've been working for, but it still knocks us out to hear this kind of thing. The flip-side would also be true, tho ... if anyone were NOT REALLY HAPPY with our products, we would feel that we had failed. Our goal is to make the best All-Purpose garments ... literally (in the original sense of the word!) second to none. And MANY THANKS to the gent from BC for giving us a try, and for the encouraging call.
2020-02-21 ... This is Great! Warrior for WarriorWool
We received some wonderful feedback from Dennis Propes ... used with permission:
Wanted to give some feedback on my Anorak, I have worn it every day since I received it and every day I have received comments from people about how much they like the Anorak. I have never received so many compliments on a piece of clothing in my life. A true testament to the quality and style of your product. Also, I have worn it in the cold and high winds (50 mph gust) and the performance is unmatched.
I love the fact that I’m supporting an American owned company and produced product.
As for the WarriorWool program, I noticed that it included disabled veterans. I would like to know the qualifications on this program as I am a disabled veteran (60% service connected) as I would love to get more of your product, if under the WarriorWool program, even better. Also in time (later in 2020) contribute to the program.
So ... Dennis ... a warrior who suffered Traumatic Brain Injury, plans to donate to WarriorWool.
2020-02-19 OPEN HOUSE this Sunday
We'll host a WeatherWool Open House this Sunday, 23 February, at WeatherWool Headquarters (that means our home) in South Orange, New Jersey. Please visit the Open House page for full info.
2020-02-10 ... Base Layer Fool
Well, I broke my own fool-record ... again. Yesterday I stopped by Alex's place to drop off some packing boxes because he is moving tomorrow. Because of the chaos that accompanies moving, he'd somehow wound up wearing a FullWeight ShirtJac with no base layer, a strange outfit for working indoors, but said he was comfortable. I was on my way to the county park to walk a few miles, and he suggested I forget my base layer, and wear just my ShirtJac. The temp was a little above freezing, so I knew I wouldn't be cold. But previously I had only gone without a base layer in warm rain. I took his suggestion and was perfectly comfortable. No surprise there. I should have kept yesterday's outing in the forefront of my mind ... but I didn't ... Today I was walking again, about 4 miles (about 6.5 km), wearing the same ShirtJac. There were a couple drops of rain coming down, and it didn't look to me like it would rain harder, so I started walking with a long-sleeve COTTON shirt as my base. But I was wrong, it started raining pretty good. And because of the cotton, I got wet in some spots. It didn't matter much in that situation, but when I got back to the truck I realized I should have taken off the cotton and walked without the base layer, just as I had yesterday ... and had I done so I would not have gotten wet. The way cotton pulls water through the wool is kind of amazing. The cotton base layer was visibly wet, while the wool outer layer was not.
2020-02-07 ... Production Details
Denali reminds me frequently that it's rarely "just ..." ... I like to have Denali's photographs on the website. She is a professional photographer, and her images are much better than mine. So when I realize we need a photo, I ask her. But, knowing nothing about photography and not really (STILL!) understanding what makes one photo better than another, I tend to do a quick cell-phone pic and use it. But as a professional, Denali refuses to do "quick" ... and when I say "Can you just give me this one quick photo?", she tells me "It's not 'just' ... you think it's 'just' because you don't know what goes into it." BINGO.
Yesterday I was talking with one of the guys who are making our Fabric, and we were talking about dyeing ... and WOW ... they don't "just" dye it. And actually, the guys who are primarily turning our fiber into Fabric are not doing the dyeing themselves. They are using a specialty dye house. Exactly how the dye house goes about their work depends on a bunch of different things ... the fiber being dyed, the color chosen, the end-result desired. In our case, our warp fibers (run lengthwise thru the bolt of Fabric) are different than our weft (horizontal fibers) and therefore accept dye differently. But they must match exactly when woven together. AND, we need exactly the same color from one bolt to the next, and exactly the same color at each end of the same bolt, and exactly the same color at the edges and middle and everywhere within a bolt.
In order to achieve more precise control of color, we are dyeing all of our fiber prior to spinning into yarn. Previously, our solid colors (Black, Drab and Duff) had been piece-dyed -- the entire bolt of Fabric was dyed as a single piece -- rather than dyed as fiber. And WOW ... even after deciding to dye the fiber, there are still a lot of ways to do it, and a lot of choices within those methods. What temperature and pressure will best fix the dye? How acidic should it be? How long should the fiber remain in the dye? How should it be washed after dyeing? It goes on and on ...
I am thinking of putting together a website "page" with all the gory details of production ... starting with the sheep and continuing all the way to finished garments. It would actually be a very long page and maybe nobody would really want all that detail, but it would be a really good exercise for me to put it together. There is still a great deal that I don't know, things I never knew and things I've forgotten or misunderstood. The "Production Details" page would probably have a dozen or more paragraphs briefly discussing the many steps of production, and then separate, additional pages plunging into the details of those steps.
2020-02-03 ... TV Show
We heard today from another TV personality whose cameramen wear WeatherWool ... Whether or not anything comes of this, it's great to know that the cameramen, who in many ways faces more difficult conditions than the on-camera talent, recommend WeatherWool. But of course we love WeatherWool to be in front of the camera too, particularly Lynx Pattern.
20-02-02 ... "One Jacket"
Customer TJ Alexander posted on Instagram: @dragoncanoe71_ … You must maintain your gear at all times , no matter what it is ! Now this WeatherWool Has been the only jacket I have worn now for the last year and a half ! For work or play or just out and about no such thing as bad weather only bad gear ! I’ve been comfortable from 65 to -25 f , rain snow wind sun all I do is change my layers under from nothing to just a couple layers ! And only in heavy rain I have worn a outer shell ! I also use it as part of my sleep system when out on scouts , I brush it out every two weeks as I do laundry takes me about a hour ish ! But summer it needs a good hand washer! It’s made here in the USA by a small company that have a passion for it and are very patriotic also ! As we all should be ! Yes more expensive than others but look what this one jacket has replaced for me ! I am down to just one jacket ! Dragon approved gear right there ! 🐉 HooRaw ! #WeatherWool #USMCVet #woolrules #USA ... THANKS TJ! ... This kind of feedback is a huge thing for us. Most of the time the customer communicates with us directly, but in this case it was a public Instagram post from TJ. And a couple of other customers made analogous comments on TJ's post.
2020-01-31 ... Value Perspectives
It's very important to us that all our customers are happy with our wool ... and if not ... or even if they just need the money ... they are welcome to a full refund, even after months of use. It's very rare that anyone wants a refund, but we do have returns, mostly from people who have worn something a couple of times, then wanted a different size. (If a garment is worn outdoors AT ALL, or is in possession of a customer for more than 2 weeks, even if never worn, we count it as USED.) We refund 100% and then offer the barely-used item at a discount. In the case of the Anorak, the used items are usually dry-cleaned and offered at $495, $100 less than the $595 price of a new one.
Today, I received a note from a woman with a remarkable perspective:
I feel that less than 17% off of an item someone else has worn a number of times & done who knows what type of activities in is not a sufficient discount for used clothing – no matter how good the condition still is. Formal gowns by name brand designers that have only been worn once by women who go to old fashion balls sell for more than 50% off original prices in consignment shops.
We'd be mortified if this was the case with WeatherWool! Wow! It did not seem to occur to this lady that perhaps the "name brand designer" gowns are wildly overpriced? Or that the people buying gowns are burning money? If they're all happy, it's fine by me.
2020-01-27 ... Book Invite, TV Show
We've just been invited to provide a WeatherWool Jacket for testing and eval so that we can be included in a soon-to-be-published book about bushcraft. We're also going to be on another TV Show before long. Over the weekend, I heard from a very heavy-duty unit of the US Armed Forces who is testing an Anorak. At the time he texted me, he was in a freezing rain. Perfect! Plus I just started work on pages that show our inventory, backordering info and production status. These pages are introduced on a new THANK YOU page that is linked from our current landing page. I'm going to hear it from Denali, a professional photographer, for putting my ugly kisser up front and center!
2020-01-23 ... Sugar Season
My friends in traditional Maple Syrup areas are always amused that we tap our maples in January. Maple sap flows when temperatures at night drop below freezing and rise above freezing during the day, particularly if it is sunny. Here in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, we could tap our trees in November and have sap flowing until mid- or late March, when the nights stop dropping below freezing. We tapped our trees today, later than usual. We have only a few trees in the yard, but we get 1.5 to 2 gallons (6 or 7 liters) of syrup, which is more than we use. What I like best about sugaring, I think, is how it underscores the passing of the Seasons, and the transition of Winter into Spring.
2020-01-22 ... Grand Canyon Triple Rimmer and Watch Cap
One of our customers is training for the Grand Canyon Triple Rimmer ... it starts on the South Rim, then to the North Rim, then back to the South Rim, a total of 50 miles (80 km) and 10,000 feet (3049 meters) elevation gain. I hope to find out more about Jesse's exact plans, but the latest prototype Watch Cap is on its way to him where he will test it on daily hikes in the Dragoon, Chiricahua and Santa Rita Mountains ... he'll test it a lot harder than me, that's for sure! AND ... Jesse will be wearing a shirt he is making himself from our MidWeight Fabric.
I'd never hear of the Triple Rimmer before yesterday, but here is some more info about a similar, if not identical, route that is well-known among trail runners.
OK ... and while I'm blurting things out ... we are planning to make a garment specifically for runners, speed-walkers and fast hikers. We're probably calling it the Runner, and it will incorporate elements of our ShirtJac, Mountain Jacket and Anorak.
We are developing (or planning) three items ... the Watch Cap, the Removable Cape and the Runner. None of them are yet on the website, but maybe they should be? Maybe we should add them to the Additional Items section?
We received a lovely note and photos from a customer in Taiwan. Very surprised that Cherry Blossoms are in bloom now ... January!
2020-01-20 Watch Cap and Removable Cape
We have been thinking about a Removable Cape that could be added over the top of any jacket or shirt or hoodie, whether made by us or someone else. Today I did a little testing of a prototype Removable Cape, along with continuing testing of the latest prototype Watch Cap. I walked almost 4 miles (a bit over 6 km) at a leisurely pace along a windy ridge (from which George Washington observed troop movements during the Revolutionary War!). The temp was a little lower than freezing, low humidity and at times a bright sun. The Watch Cap was perfect, but with two cotton layers (what I had been wearing in the office) plus a FullWeight ShirtJac and the Cape, I was a little too warm in the torso. Not uncomfortably so, but I should have taken off one (or even both) of the cotton shirts prior to walking. I would have worn a MidWeight ShirtJac, but our inventory is so low that my own MidWeight ShirtJac has gone off to a more-deserving home. More info on both the Watch Cap and the Removable Cape will be forthcoming ... they'll have their own page on the website before long. The Cape needs some work but the Watch Cap may be ready. However, I don't normally wear a Watch Cap, so I am thinking we should make about 15 of them and offer the Watch Cap at a reduced price to people who agree to really test and give feedback. Then we could consider offering the Watch Cap for the 3rd or 4th quarter of this year, when it starts cooling down again in the Northern Hemisphere. BUT ... there are a million Watch Caps already out there and we don't want to offer something that's not better than what is already available. There must be a need because so many people have asked us to make a serious Watch Cap. One question ... should we add a pocket? The pocket would be knitted from the same wool yarn as the rest of the Cap, and could be inside or outside the Cap.
2020-01-19 Neck Gaiters in Hand
Yesterday afternoon I drove into Brooklyn to pick up the first batch of our Black, Drab and Duff Neck Gaiters from Alex and Kady at Tailored Industry. I also spent a couple of hours with Alex and Kady, two wonderful and engaging young entrepreneurs. Knits are pretty far afield from the woven fabric that has always been our heart and soul. But the technology of knitting and the technology of yarns is moving rapidly and we expect to explore the possibilities of more WeatherWool knits with Kady and Alex and the amazing Shima Seiki Knitting machines. We are shipping the Gaiters now.
2020-01-18 Great Anorak Reviews Received
Today we received a couple of tremendous reviews of our Anoraks. One of those reviews (THANKS Joe Mohring) we re-published on Instagram and Facebook and on the website on the Civilian Anorak Reviews page. The other review came in from a member of the US Military. We'll post/publish what we can of that review after we get the green light.
2020-01-14 ... Antarctica!
Customer Rob is just lately back from an 8-day ski trip in Antarctica. Among his highly specialized gear were a Mouton Hat and Neck Gaiter, which he wore mostly during rest periods while skiing from 89 degrees South Latitude to the Absolute South Pole. Rob is posting about this intense trip on Instagram. We're very glad Rob and the group made it to the South Pole (HOORAY!) and then home safely. Strong winds, temps typically at -15F to -20F (about -28C) and the location itself make such a journey very difficult and dangerous. My hat is off to to all involved!
2020-01-12 ... Watch Cap
So, now that we've gotten a Beanie prototype that we really like (so far, anyway) we have decided to be more respectful and call it a Watch Cap! We are very happy with the look and feel of the Watch Cap, but since we received it, the weather here in North Jersey has been warm. I wore the Watch Cap a couple days ago in a temp of 44F/7C ... normally I wouldn't wear a hat at all in that kind of warmth ... and the Watch Cap was fine for about 3 miles of walking, then I felt a little moisture building up so I took it off. But cold weather is needed for real testing. We liked the Watch Cap enough that we did a post on Facebook and Instagram, and a bunch of people said they want one. The yarn is spun from 19-micron, pure Merino fiber so there really isn't any question about the comfort. But I need to experience the wind resistance and warmth.
2020-01-09 ... Two Interesting Things
I've been on the phone for a couple of hours over the last week or so speaking with a guy from eClean.green ... yes, that is their website. It was a surprise to me to learn that ".green" is an internet top-level domain ... along with hundreds of others I never knew about. But anyway, eClean is getting some wool from us to try their liquid CO2 cleaning process on greasy wool (wool as it is sheared from the sheep). Looking forward to the results of their testing!
Also, Tailored Industry, the folks who are knitting our Neck Gaiters, have been sending us Beanies. We weren't all THAT interested in making Beanies until we received another -- about the 6th version -- of their Beanies today. WOW! This one we love ... ALTHOUGH we have not tested it yet. And while the "living room test" is important, it's not nearly as important as the real testing. More about this Beanie will be here on the Blog soon! Great work, Kady and Alex of Tailored Industry!
2020-01-08 ... First "Whole Garment" Neck Gaiters Knitted
The first batch of our Neck Gaiters (Black, Drab and Duff Colors) have been knitted by Tailored Industry (see blog entry below, please), but several steps still need to be completed before we can ship ... Edges must be finished, then the Gaiters will be washed and dried and inspected over light cones. WeatherWool labels must be sewn in (very lightly!) by hand and then another inspection by Advisor JR Morrissey of TheFactory8 before we pick them up.
2020-01-07 ... Frustration
Today we received very disappointing news from the folks who are making our Fabric. We had hoped to have significant amounts of Fabric by the end of January, but now it looks like April or May ... and then another month or two before we will have more garments to ship. So we are looking at June or July before we can ship anything that is not in stock now ... and our inventory is presently very depleted. For us, tho, it is much more important to get it right than to simply get it done. This situation almost all our products, but does not affect our Neck Gaiters, however, which are knitted. Please see the following and preceding Blog about the Neck Gaiters.
Today, Debby and I spent about four hours at Tailored Industry in Brooklyn, New York City. Tailored Industry specializes in seamless knitting -- also known as WholeGarment. Their Shima Seiki machines knit garments 3-dimensionally, producing an entire sweater right on the machine, as an example. By the end of our meeting, we finalized the specs for our Neck Gaiters. We'd been working with Advisor JR Morrissey and with the people at Tailored (Owners Alex Tschopp and Kady Gray) for several weeks ... there is an enormous array of possible stitches, tensions, and on and on. But by the end of the session, Debby was happy with the latest tweaks and Tailored Industry will be delivering the first of the Neck Gaiters within a couple of weeks.
Here, JR and I watch a Shima Seiki machine in action at Tailored Industry.
When I was a little guy back in 1960 or so, people were still talking about THE ROARING TWENTIES, and it captured my imagination ... the 1920s must have been awfully exciting to have earned such a nickname. Well ... here's to this decade being remembered as THE ROARING TWENTY TWENTIES!!
One of the many reasons we love wool is that it is so environmentally friendly ... for one thing, it is completely biodegradable. I read somewhere that if you bury wool fabric, it will be consumed by soil microbes within a couple of months. But I wonder what would happen if it was not buried. So this morning I took some selvedge strips (the narrow strips that border our bolts of fabric), which we normally do not use, and placed them on top of a pile of sticks and leaves in the bushes in the back yard. It will be interesting to see what happens.