BLOG entries by Ralph unless otherwise noted.
2021-04-22 ... Auction Coming ... Still No Rain in New Mexico
The State of New Mexico is the primary source of the "greasy" (industry jargon for "raw wool" that has not yet been scoured) from which we make WeatherWool. Yesterday we spoke with Advisor and New Mexico Rancher Mike Corn, who has worked with us since 2010, when all we had was an idea. Mike is one of the first people -- maybe even THE first -- who took us seriously. Mike and Advisor/Rancher Bob Padula are the keys to our acquisition of greasy. Mike is a partner at Roswell Wool, the auction house and financial intermediary that facilitates our bids and payments.
Every year, usually in April, Roswell auctions a relatively large quantity of greasy with the characteristics we seek. Although I speak regularly with Mike, I talk to him more at this time of year, because of the auction. We'll need to see the specs on the various lots of greasy before we know what, if anything, we will bid on. But sadly, the most important news from Mike was that there is still no rain in New Mexico. Mike's family has been on their ranch since the 1800s. Mike is in his 60s now, and has never seen such a terrible drought. Wool prices have improved a little (that is, prices have gone up), but are still very low. Lamb prices (lambs for meat) are pretty strong, and that helps, but if the land cannot support the stock ... The drought continues to drive New Mexico's Ranchers out of business, and this was sadly the case for one of the Ranchers from whom we bought greasy last year ... and they'd also been on their land since the 1800s. There are now only about a dozen sheep ranches left in New Mexico.
2021-04-21 ... 100%, 100%, 100%
A couple of days ago I got a surprising letter. It was a very lawyerly, bureaucratic (the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act) email, as if it had been written by some kind of inspector, but it came from a gmail account. When I asked, the writer explained she was an industry professional, that her husband was interested in WeatherWool, and that she'd written because we seemed to be trying to pass off synthetic garments as woolens. I was startled by this because I always thought the website makes clear our Fabric is pure wool. But I was also surprised that the "Our Fabric" link on the main menu leads to a page that didn't actually state our Fabric is 100% wool. Also unstated on that page was that our wool is always 100% virgin. (The first garments made from recycled/waste wool were known as "shoddy", and it became quite an industry about two hundred years ago. Shoddy garments were and still are cheaper and inferior, and the word is now generally used as a synonym of "inferior".) So I've added yet another 100% wool, 100% virgin, 100% American set of statements to the website.
This situation reminded me of a time when someone was grilling me about what our use of "American" meant. He was very suspicious that we were counting materials or labor from anywhere in North, South or Central America as American.
But the 100% info does belong on the Our Fabric (the WeatherWool Difference) page, particularly because it is linked from the Main Menu, which is available from every page on our website. So definitely THANKS to our suspicious correspondent for that!
2021-04-20 ... Selvedge and Remnants
We have some Selvedge (from the Weaving Mill) and some Tailoring Remnants available. We don't have any particular uses for the Mill Selvedge. The tailoring remnants we use for the Fabric Sample Booklets. The selvedge and remnants are made from the same production fiber and yarn as our garments.
The Mill Selvedge (above) in this case is Drab Color. When the Mill finishes weaving a bolt of our Fabric, they trim about 1 inch (around 2 centimeters) from each side. The trim comes to us as two long strips, each the length of the entire bolt of Fabric, about 55 yards (50 meters or so). We know the mill selvedge can be used for ghillie suits.
The Tailor Remnants are various sizes left over from cutting the Fabric into garments. The remnants we have now are FullWeight Drab and FullWeight Lynx Pattern.
If you are interested in getting some Selvedge or Remnants, please give us a call.
2021-04-19 ... New YouTube Video
Denali today posted another video on our YouTube Channel. In this clip, I talk with Mike Dean, the first WeatherWool Advisor, about our first conversation, and Mike describes how he tested his All-Around Jacket before purchasing it. This video was recorded in May of 2019, but it took us a long time to work through it. THANKS MIKE and DENALI!!!
2021-04-18 ... Nice little story
We just heard from a guy who is frequently in our area, and wants to stop by. The interesting/funny part is that he requested Fabric Samples a month or so ago, and he thought we did not send them. But he'd just found the Sample Pack somewhere outside his house, where it had been sitting in snow and rain and weather ever since the Post Office (almost) delivered it. He said the packaging and paperwork had gotten pretty nasty, but the wool was totally unaffected, and that was interesting.
2021-04-17 ... All-Around Jacket, Anoraks ahead of schedule
Advisor JR Morrissey, who has long advised us on production and is managing the team of tailors currently producing our Anoraks and All-Around Jackets, tells me the crew is running ahead of schedule!
2021-04-16 ... Made in USA
American Made Matters, "A MOVEMENT TO STRENGTHEN THE AMERICAN DREAM", had a startling post on Instagram yesterday, based on data from David Trumbull (we have met David) of Agathon Associates and the Fibershed Foundation. It's amazing to read that in 1965, 95% of clothing worn by Americans was made in USA. I saw some of this myself. As a teenager in the early 1970s, I was lucky to work frequently as a longshoreman, handling truckloads of shirts coming Georgia and the Carolinas and headed for retailers in the New York City area. By 2012, only 2.5% of American clothing was made in USA. Now, the number is maybe 3%. We have a small pamphlet published by Botany Mills in 1948. Botany operated from Passaic New Jersey, only short drive from WeatherWool's headquarters. Botany's pamphlet, in reference to their woolens: "We make fabrics which are necessary to the health, the comfort and the appearance of 90 per cent of the people of the country throughout the year." It's astounding Botany could make such a claim, even if it was an exaggeration (and I'm not saying it was!). I think US clothing manufacture is on the upswing, but must compete in the marketplace on quality and service.
2021-04-15 ... Spring means Fall
The coming of Spring here in the US Mainland means Fall is coming in the Southern Hemisphere. It is really gratifying to have a flow of orders from Australia, the Merino Wool Capital of the World!
2021-04-14 ... Server Crash
The company that hosts our website, Shopify, is having some problems today. WeatherWool.com has been up and down for a few hours. It's not us. Shopify is a pretty giant host ... over a million online stores use the Shopify platform. Just another of a zillion examples of really astounding technology that mostly gets taken for granted until there is a glitch.
2021-04-13 ... Garment Size
Our garment size charts present the measures of the garment, rather than the measure of the person. There are several reasons for this, and it just dawned on me that I'd may as well create an explanatory page that the size-chart pages can link to ... The Anorak Size page is the only one that has the link at this point.
Just watched a short YouTube video from Carhartt, posted in 2012. The video tells a good bit about Carhartt, and why they want to keep making garments in the USA. It also tells that between 1997 and 2012, over 600 American textile factories closed, and that <2% of clothing worn by Americans is Made in America. I don't know what's happened since 2012. Something to research.
2021-04-12 ...Design Meeting in NYC Garment District
Advisor/Designer JR Morrissey had a brilliant idea - pattern the new ShirtJac, which is really more of a Jacket than a Shirt, off of the body of the Anorak, so it will have the fit of the Anorak with the design of a shirt, without the pullover design. We will keep the cuff adjustments of the Anorak, but the ShirtJac will have Slot Buttons down the center front, generous zippered slash pockets and, of course, button-down chest pockets. Buttons at back of a more generous collar, similar to the collar of the All-Around Jacket, will enable attachment of optional Double-Hood.
Also, here is a drawing of the ShirtJac from JR:
2021-04-09 ... New phone number 831-July 4th-1776 (831-704-1776)
A week ago (please see Blog entry for 2021-04-03) Denali secured a better phone number for us. It's been working fine, so I just updated the phone number on the website Main Menu. YAY! Our previous number, 973-761-1776, will also always reach us, but I like the July 4th, 1776 number better!
2021-04-08 ... Garment Production Teams
Although the performance of our Fabric relies to a large extent on the 3-dimensional structure created by the Jacquard Loom, the art and science of "tailoring" requires turning essentially flat fabrics into very very very 3-dimensional garments. Here are some of the teams (mostly separate companies) that, under the overall supervision of Factory8, turn our Fabric in WeatherWool garments (thanks to Anya Ferring of Factory8 for this info):
- Pattern Makers ... Draft flat patterns for the garments following design and fit measurement instructions of designer
- Graders ... Take the finished, approved pattern and apply grade rules to the base pattern to create all the requested sizes. Grading used to be done by hand with lots of room for variability, but now everything is streamlined via computer
- Markers ... Lay out all the pattern pieces from every size onto a giant piece of paper that has the same length and width measurements of the fabric being cut. In the case of WeatherWool Fabric the dimensions are about 50 inches by 55 yards. Marking ensures the best yield (best return on Fabric), and that no Fabric is unnecessarily wasted due to layout. Until relatively recently, marking was done by hand. But now marking is optimized much more quickly by software that test through huge numbers of possible layouts extremely quickly
- Cutters ... Inspect the Fabric and then cut out the sizes in the fabric from the marker
- Tailors / Sewing Professionals ... Sew up the cutwork following quality and construction details determined by designer
- Pressers ... Work with the Sewing Professionals to press out seams during sewing construction as needed. Pressers also press and clean finished garments before packing
- Quality/Final Inspection ... Each of our garments is inspected at dozens of different points ... seams, zippers, bar tacks, buttons and ribbons, cords, cord locks, symmetry, sizing, tags ...
There is a great deal of expertise and precision at every step of the way ... over and over and over ...
2021-04-07 ... Connections
Yesterday we got a great note from customer Raquel Zink:
Thank you guys So Much for getting my size exchanged so promptly. I really appreciate your customer service!
I wanted to tell you that I was wearing my new Anorak on a video call with my lawyer, Jersey Green. He and I both hunt and he was asking me about it, noting that the pattern would be perfect for coyote hunting here in CO. As I was singing your praises, waxing poetic about the quality of construction and wool used, etc, he said he thought his friend Ralph owned the company. We figured out that was the case and Jersey said to tell you hello!
My new Anorak is perfect and fits wonderfully. Thank you guys so much for exchanging it for me. I was so pleased when Jersey noticed it as a quality outdoor garment.
Of course we love that Raquel is happy with her garment. And we had no idea our old friend Jersey is her attorney. It's special to us when our garments are recognized or when WeatherWool turns out to be a connection. Something we also really like is that Raquel wore her Lynx Pattern Anorak for a (presumably) indoors meeting. Versatility is a huge goal for us. BIG THANKS to Raquel and Jersey for this post!
2021-04-06 ... USAF SERE Donation
A customer who is a Veteran of the US Air Force donated anonymously two WarriorWool Anoraks, directing the wool to fellow Airmen. Brady Nicholls is an Air Force SERE Instructor with a great deal of experience in WeatherWool, and Brady liaised with Michael Wolfel, who has just relocated to Eielson AFB in Alaska, where WeatherWool has previously undergone a lot of testing at "the Cool School". Wolfel and another SERE Instructor at Eielson received their Anoraks a week or so ago, and extend BIG TIME THANKS to the donor. (I did flag this Blog post to him.) Michael is also a pretty great photographer who is active on Instagram. Military people often need to keep a very low profile, but Michael helps Air Force Special Warfare recruiting efforts with his photography, and has an established online presence. THANKS for the photos Michael! We hope you and your fellow SERE Instructor wear the Anorak in great health for many years!
2021-04-05 ... WeatherWool Buttons ... Moisture Content of Wool
Advisor Chris Christian is a very heavy-duty tinkerer and DIY-er. When Chris heard we are hoping to embed some Lynx Pattern Fabric into resin and make Slot Buttons, he was intrigued. And given that he works with resin a lot, he whipped up a couple of buttons. We expect actual production of the buttons will be overseen by Advisor Chuck Carson.
We recently picked up a large box of loom-selvedge from MTL. The selvedge is trimmed from the edge of the bolt of Fabric after the weaving is done. The selvedge is made with our yarn, and we are looking for things to do with it. The selvedge came in a large box and it took me a little bit to transfer the selvedge into a few smaller bags of maybe 20 pounds each. We use clear plastic garbage bags for things like this ... seeing what is inside the bag is very convenient. When I filled a bag, I set it aside in the sun and began filling the next. After the bags had been in the sun for only a few -- maybe 10 minutes the most -- I noticed the inside of the bags was wet with condensation. Running my hand inside the bag resulted in visibly wet skin. This was a shock. The selvedge had felt absolutely bone dry or I would not have put it into bags in the first place. And actually, MTL wouldn't have been working with it if it hadn't been dry. And yet, the Drab selvedge picked up enough heat from a few minutes in the sun that it began to release trapped moisture. The water vapor released by the wool quickly condensed on the inside of the bag because the air was cool even though the sun was strong. This was a tremendous and totally unexpected demonstration of the behavior of wool with regards to moisture and heat!
2021-04-03 ... 831-July 4th-1776
When we were getting a phone line for WeatherWool, New Jersey Bell told us we could pick our number from what was available in 973-761-xxxx. Debby immediately asked for -1776, and that has been our office number ever since. (Non-American readers might not know July the 4th, 1776 is the date of American Independence.) Ever since, I've had it in my head to get xxx-704-1776, and have tried to do so. When I was doing financial work, New York City phone numbers were at a premium, and the company paid a bunch of money to get 212-xxx-5000. So I was thinking it would be a big deal to get xxx-704-1776, and I had wasted some time years ago in the attempt. Yesterday I mentioned this to Denali, and within 5 minutes she paid about $20 to NumberBarn.com and, it seems, secured 831-704-1776 as our new phone number. We'll have to test it for a while, and we'll keep 973-761-1776 regardless. But it looks like our phone number will become 831-July 4th-1776. I guess this is childish, but I don't care. I'm really happy about it. GREAT WORK DENALI!! ... Also, Big Hat Tip to Jesse from Wyoming ... He asked me yesterday whether the 1776 was coincidence, and he agreed getting the 704 exchange would be great. I would not have had it on my mind when I spoke with Denali if Jesse hadn't questioned me.
2021-04-02 ... Batch 6
Today we decided Batch 6 will be 2/3 MidWeight Lynx Pattern and 1/3 MidWeight Solid Drab Color. Making only one weight of Fabric will simplify operations for American Woolen and Material Technology and Logistics because the MidWeight and FullWeight Yarns are spun differently, and the Fabrics are woven differently. (Please note many more Batch 5 garments are in the works now.)
2021-04-01 ... Offer from Advisor Tom Brown III (T3)
WeatherWool Advisor T3 has been a great friend to us, and since childhood has been as deeply involved in Nature Studies and Instruction as anyone could possibly be. Tom and about 15 of his associates are offering a series of professionally produced online Masterclasses (fishing, foraging, survival ...) that are available through tomorrow (April 2nd) at a steep discount via this link:
Thanks for the tip, Tom!!
2021-03-31 ... Fabric Finishing
We are thrilled that our Fabric production chain is rolling along again, after three years. And we are now getting much more of a sense of the knowledge and experience of the team at American Woolen, headed by production manager Giuseppe Monteleone (see yesterday's entry). For many years, Giuseppe had been running the same plant for Loro Piana, the world-renowned Italian maker of luxury textiles. Giuseppe presented some ideas for different finishing processes that we will eventually test, after things settle and we get caught up with our production. As usual, whenever I spend time with the professionals who help us with our production, I learn a bunch but come away feeling more ignorant than before. At least it's good to be aware ... Giuseppe's team will enhance WeatherWool Hardcore Luxury®. By the way ... a sharp-eyed Instagram follower spotted the Italian-language stickers on the sponging train equipment in yesterday's Instagram post.
2021-03-30 ... Sponging our FullWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric
Last night, Giuseppe Monteleone, who has been running the plant at American Woolen since 1988, sent us a 90-second video (available now on our YouTube Channel) showing our FullWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric on the Sponging Line at American Woolen. Sponging is one of the "finishing processes". After our Fabric is woven, it must still undergo the finishing processes that make it ready for the tailors. Sponging uses steam and heat to remove tensions from within the Fabric. Weaving fabrics creates tensions that will cause changes in length or width when the tailors cut and sew. Sponging removes these tensions. Our Fabric is sponged twice so that it is completely relaxed. THANKS TO THE AMERICAN WOOLEN TEAM!!
2021-03-29 ... WeatherWool Custom Slot Buttons?!!!
Our newest Advisors, Chris Christian and Graham Carson, are both very design- and materials-oriented. Graham is a Senior Lecturer at RIT and Chris is demonstrably comfortable working in a wide variety of areas. Graham and Chris are both working with us (they are, separately, actually doing all the work!) to develop Slot Buttons for our Peacoat and North Maine Double Coat. Chris just sent me this photo of a single thickness of our FullWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric in epoxy. Chris evidently has quite a workshop at his house. THANKS CHRIS!! That is crazy and beautiful!!
2021-03-28 ... CPO Shirt
Because our Shirt is modeled on the Military CPO Shirt, we decided it made sense to call it CPO Shirt. This will also help to distinguish the CPO Shirt from the ShirtJac. And while we're at it, maybe change the ShirtJac to JacShirt ... ?
2021-03-27 ... WarriorWool™
Last night I added the ™ (trademark) symbol to the WarriorWool™ pages. I've been reluctant to do this, despite advice of Polson Law, our IP Attorneys, due to concerns it creates an appearance of commercialization of WarriorWool. But it would drive me completely nuts if some other company started using the term, so I've decided to protect it, a least a little bit. I might even go the extra distance and seek registration of the mark with the US Patent and Trademark Office. This step does not change the WarriorWool Program in the least. In a similar vein, I may seek international registration of the WeatherWool® trademark, which presently has legal force only in the USA. But about 10% of our customers are outside the USA, mostly Canada.
2021-03-25 ... Visit to MTL
This is Mike Hillebrand, the founder and owner of Material Technology and Logistics, the only company that has woven our Fabric. Mike has been a huge help to us! He is wearing an All-Around Jacket in Lynx Pattern.
2021-03-24 ... "Doll" and Denali Munchkin
Today I had a little bit of a funny phone call with a customer who noticed that his email to Debby displayed as "Doll" and he wanted to make sure we understood he hadn't deliberately done that. The backstory is that long before WeatherWool, I had saved Debby's phone number as DOLL in my phone. Eventually, I started using my phone for emails, and somehow Debby@WeatherWool.com started displaying as DOLL all over the place.
Debby and my daughter's given name is Laura. But I wanted to name her Denali, for the tallest mountain in the USA, and because I think Denali works really well with DiMeo. But Debby doesn't like the DD initials (her own), so ... But when Laura began to work with WeatherWool, I finally got my (somewhat limited) way. As for "Munchkin", Denali was very tiny for her age in her early years, and I called her Munchkin. She is actually on the tall side now, but Munchkin has been in my phone for 20 years. And now I see incoming business mails displaying "Denali Munchkin".
Proves we're a family company, I guess!
2021-03-23 ... Website Maintenance
A kind and detail-oriented visitor to our website flagged a stale link. We try to keep the website current, and tight, but it's gotten to be a pretty big site and not as well-maintained as I wish. We really appreciate when people point out any way we might improve!!
2021-03-22 ... US Secret Service and "Pay-Behind Line"
Today a gent who has previously donated to WarriorWool donated another Anorak, directing this one to the United States Secret Service, Presidential Protection Unit. A couple of years ago, we also had an All-Around Jacket on an Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit that was dedicated to protecting the president. As previously, today's donor chose to remain completely anonymous. But while we spoke, he told me a nice tale. He was on line at the Chick-fil-A drive in when he noticed the driver of the car behind him was a co-worker. So he picked up the bill for his colleague ... who then picked up the tab for the stranger behind him ... and the Pay-Behind lasted about 25 minutes.
2021-03-21 ... FullWeight Lynx Pattern Anoraks and Ancient Woolens
I forgot to mention yesterday that I just picked up another run of Anoraks in FullWeight Lynx Pattern, and we're working this weekend to fulfill backorders.
Also ... added a great item to the Related Information page, courtesy of Advisor Will Cooke. THANKS WILL! ... "I thought the below video might amuse you. It's about 1700 year old finely crafted wool tunic found in Norway. They estimate the cost of having it made today by the traditional methods in use at the time would be about 44000usd. If ever anyone complains your wool is too expensive you can point them to this. ..... https://youtu.be/15IxF53AZfE " ... This video is some really interesting history of woolens. But it also provides great "count your blessings" perspective, in that it illustrates how expensive clothing has been historically, and how until quite recently, clothing was normally extremely expensive (in terms of time and/or money). Anyone in a position to read these words lives in an amazing age of plenty!
2021-03-20 ... Anonymous
We receive a lot of really gratifying comments from our customers. It's a huge kick to us, and we really appreciate that people take the time and make the effort. Mostly, we don't post these comments, although we have posted quite a few of them on the website or social media. I very seldom use a comment without full-name attribution, and of course only with permission ... which is rarely withheld. But when it comes to WarriorWool donations, usually people don't want their name published. And often, people don't even want the recipient to know who they are. But some of the donors look forward to hearing from the recipients, even if they remain anonymous. Often a donor is a veteran directing an Anorak to the branch of service where he/she served, and wants to hear some news.
2021-03-19 ... 9 Years Plus on the Blog ... Last day of Winter
Winter is ending here in Northern New Jersey with sunny skies and lots of wind. Plenty of the early plants are growing, and lots of migratory birds are back. Glorious days of Spring coming!
I'm kind of amazed to see more than 9 years of this Blog here on the website. Looking over some of the earliest entries, it's a little funny and a little distressing that I don't remember better!
2021-03-17 ... Fabric Going into Finishing
For quite a while, we have had significant amount of Batch 5 Fabric in a sort of virus-limbo, but that is coming to an end. American Woolen is re-opening and they will soon complete the "finishing processes" that will turn our loom-state (greige) Fabric into Finished Fabric, ready for the tailors. We'll have enough to make about 580 garments. We will definitely make All-Around Jackets and Anoraks.
2021-03-16 ... Tough Times in New Mexico
My Grandfather used to joke that Farmers have no need for gambling at poker or dice because if you're a Farmer you're always gambling on the weather. In New Jersey, tho, where my family farmed, we really don't have to worry about water. Granpa mostly had early or late frost in mind. But it's a very different story for our Ranchers in New Mexico. In the best of times, New Mexico sheep range doesn't grow much feed. But most of the last decade has been disastrous. Ranchers have had to reduce the size of their flocks, and even that has not been enough. Supplemental (purchased) feed has been necessary. And additional sources of water have had to be created because if natural feed is too far from water, sheep may not be willing to travel to it, or may be overly stressed when they do. And the drought is added to the usual problem of heavy predation of sheep by cougars, coyotes, bobcats, wolves, bears, eagles and sometimes even crows. It's an extremely difficult situation for some really fine people, and a multi-generational and much-beloved way of life is threatened.
2021-03-15 ... Nice to be Shipping Product
We got a good bunch of Anoraks on Saturday, and got them all shipped out. It feels great to be filling orders. But also, I realized this photo is kind of interesting because we have the packages separated by carrier.
We use different carriers and different packaging depending on the circumstances.
We have always offered free shipping to USA and Canada and split shipping costs to other countries. Which carrier we choose, and which packaging we choose, depends on the situation. We don't really like to use plastic bags, but the fact is they protect the garments better than the boxes, and they are in some cases far less expensive to ship. In this photo, the big group of boxes and two plastic bags are going to UPS. The stack of three plastic bags next to my foot are DHL, and the other stack is USPS. Here is an example of how we decide on shipping ... The package on the bottom of the DHL stack is going to Sweden. The package was picked up around noon and had already left the USA within a few hours. DHL will complete delivery within 72 hours. The shipping cost was $80. Our website charged the customer $30, and a basic service was around $65 ... so we would have paid the "bigger half" of shipping anyway. But we decided to pay up for DHL because of their speed and service. DHL will get the package through customs twice -- leaving USA and then entering Sweden. DHL will notify the customer of the import duty, VAT and whatever other government fees there might be. Customer can pay online, which can be a giant convenience, and then deliver to home or business. And $80 is a lot of money. But DHL is taking the package across the Atlantic Ocean, through two customs inspections, handling government fees, and providing door-to-door pickup and delivery in 3 days. WOW!! ... Maybe I should add a Shipping Methods page to the website ...
2021-03-14 ... WeatherWool Advisors working for Discovery Channel
Bill McConnell and Naked and Afraid
Discovery's long-running Naked and Afraid Series will air tonight an episode set in Montana. In August of 2020, Debby and I spent a couple of days with Advisor Bill McConnell, who was actually the first person to wear WeatherWool on TV. Bill is a lifelong practitioner of Primitive Skills, and has been teaching at a high level for decades. We knew Bill was on assignment for a media company while we were visiting him ... but at the time he could only tell us he was doing some consulting work with a film crew. However, we just learned from his Instagram account exactly what he was up to. I don't think Bill will be seen on tonight's episode, but he was involved off-camera, probably before filming began. WeatherWool Advisors Don Nguyen and Melissa Miller have been contestants on "NAA". We laugh about that sometimes because, of course, the contestants are absolutely NOT wearing WeatherWool! ... although some good wool would have made their very difficult situation a lot less uncomfortable.
Dane Lawing and Shark Week
Discovery Channel has done a great job popularizing Shark Week, which I think is scheduled to begin August 9th this year. WeatherWool Advisor Dane Lawing specializes in underwater cinematography, and is well-known among those who film professionally underwater. Dane is presently filming for Shark Week in the waters of Islamorada, Florida Keys ... one of the world's great places!! I don't know what Dane is wearing, topside or underwater, but WeatherWool is actually worn by at least one commercial diver under his dry suit. This surprised me. I never expected our wool to serve underwater. Our wool is also worn by several other pro divers, one of them working with perhaps the world's most famous SCUBA team. But as far as I know these folks pull on the wool right after coming out of their wetsuits because the soft wool is warm and comfortable on wet skin.
2021-03-13 ... Garment District Run this morning
I will be making a quick run into the Garment District in NYC at about 6:45. Picking up 31 Anoraks at JR Morrissey's The Factory8. All of them should be shipped out by Monday. A few may move via US Postal Service today. ... DONE!! ... Looks like Saturday mornings are the way to go when we need to make pickups. There is usually no traffic first thing Saturday morning, very little commercial activity and there was plenty of space to pull right up curbside and park. And the drive took only about 25 minutes each way. But JR had to rearrange his Saturday plans ... THANKS JR!
Also, following up on the Blog from 2021-03-05, Zabz and Debby kept experimenting with the "slime" recipes, and today they nailed it!
2021-03-10 ... Binding Tape Tale (continued from yesterday)
Advisor JR Morrissey gave the combination fabric a try, and was not satisfied. So then they tried the 3/4-inch binding tape, and JR didn't like that either ... He said it "ropes". (I don't know what that means, but it's bad.) Now, here is the good part. JR's facilities are in the heart of the New York City Garment District. In normal times (which are returning!!), the streets are flush with runners pushing and pulling racks of dresses, dollies of fabric, models and designers with portfolios, block after block lined with bustling shops selling or making garment-related items. It's a great place for anyone who likes the rag trade or even just the vitality of NYC. So ... as JR told us ... he simply hit the street with the 1/2-inch tape and sought out someone who could offer a solution. After hearing a lot of opinions, JR eventually talked to a guy who had an idea about another guy who had a machine that might be able turn 3/4-inch tape into 1/2-inch tape. And it worked! Great going JR ... hats off to the community of the Garment District. ... ALSO ... a fine example of how seeking the help of the community really works!
Always pushing for more, Debby immediately asked if 1-inch tape can be cut into two 1/2-inch strips. It can be. YAY!!
Also ... it's a little bit funny to think about ... Various people have been mildly aggravated with me because I won't use even the smallest component if it's not made in USA. They might say something like "After all, it's just a little blah-blah" ... and now the sitch is flipped ... "Can 1/4-inch be all that big a deal?". YES ... on both counts.
2021-03-09 ... Binding Tape Blues
This little episode gives a sense of the difficulties involved in making a 100% American product ... "Binding tape", sort of a nylon ribbon, is sewn over some seams in order to strengthen the seams and create a clean finish for the interior of our garments. We use 3/8-inch (almost 1cm) binding tape in most places, but where the Hood of the Anorak is sewn to the body of the garment, we switched to 1/2-inch binding tape because the 3/8 isn't wide enough for the tailors to work comfortably. We have some 1/2-inch on hand now, but need to buy more. So Debby contacted our usual sources, and found they didn't have any 1/2-inch. And after many phone calls, it seems nobody has US-made 1/2-inch binding tape. Near as we can tell, US manufacture of this tape has ceased. Greater and lesser widths are still made in USA, but we aren't really satisfied with those. And so we will try to make 1/2-inch tape from the wool/nylon combination fabric we use for some of our pockets. This is uncharted territory, and if it doesn't work we'll probably use 3/4-inch tape. But we are very keen to minimize use of anything except our Fabric, and really do not want that extra 1/4-inch width on the bindings. If we are forced to use the 3/4-inch, I bet nobody except our most garment-design-minded customers will notice.
2021-03-07 ... Peacoat Update
With more Fabric expected to arrive in late March, we are getting more serious about the Peacoat design, and Debby has led us to make a more historically accurate Peacoat. Current Peacoat designs normally only button on one side. But the double-breasted design of the old Peacoats enabled them to button right-over-left or vice versa. And we'll stick with the traditional.
2021-03-06 ... Mike Dean Interview Posted on YouTube
Denali just posted on our YouTube Channel the first of a series of videos we made with Mike Dean, the first WeatherWool Advisor. Mike is a real character with huge outdoor experience and knowledge and I knew as soon as I started to speak with him that he is the real article. We created the Advisor Program because I felt a lot of people could benefit and enjoy hearing from Mike. And he's fine with people contacting him directly, although he can be difficult to get hold of.
2021-03-05 ... Pickups
Today we made a quick trip into NYC to visit the tailors and pick up some Double Hoods, Neck Gaiters and Watch Caps.
One other thing came up, off-topic maybe, but Debby and our granddaughter Zabz (Isabelle) have been testing different formulas for "slime" ... sort of a homemade Silly Putty. None of the attempts have worked out yet, and when Zabz wanted to try it again today, Debby had some other things she needed to do, Zabz needed to practice her writing, and so Debby said "I think we should give up on the slime for a while." Zabz replied very firmly and very sternly "The DiMeo family does not give up." Zabz will have her 5th Birthday later this month, and she exhibits some serious determination!
2021-03-04 ... Interesting Day
- A gent who is on a television show seen by millions called to say he really likes the All-Around Jacket we just sent him. He'll be wearing it for episodes that will air this coming summer. He got in touch with us a week or so ago because he'd seen and heard good things.
- Someone who has already two Anoraks called to find out when he might expect his third Anorak. I couldn't promise that he'd get one anytime soon because he ordered only lately and there are so many people in front of him. So he ordered an All-Around Jacket because we have a few still on hand from the current production run.
- Spoke at length to a infantryman in the United States Marine Corps who was also checking on his Anorak order. Given that this is a WarriorWool order, meaning that he will wear it for Active Duty, his order will be filled with high priority. The only higher priority than WarriorWool are the people who have already paid for their wool. And there are not many of those. This infantryman also told me he'd been testing his Neck Gaiter and Watch Cap very hard, and was really happy with the results. And he said our Duff color is closer to the true Military coyote-color (known as 499 in the rag trade) than the Military issue neck gaiter.
- We had a couple of long talks with customers who've lately received All-Around Jackets, and wanted to let us know how much they like them. And one of them ordered an Anorak.
- Most amazingly, we were somewhat thrilled to receive an order from a war-fighting governmental agency that I'd never heard of before. They are planning to outfit a smallish team of Operators with pure wool. But first, over the next couple of months, they will test WeatherWool and several other brands of woolens, and see what they like best. Luckily, we have some things available to send them!
2021-03-03 ... Anorak Review and American Woolen Re-opening
Jacob Long, owner of American Woolen Company, phoned me today and explained they are ready to go as soon as their workplace insurance is in force on March 15th. Then it will be full speed ahead and we'll be quickly finishing Batch 5 Fabric and getting busy with Batch 6 and Batch 7.
Also, we received some wonderful words of encouragement (used with permission, of course, and also posted in slightly modified form on the Civilian Anorak Reviews Page) from Ivan Hageman, of New York City:
2021-03-02 ... Inside Stitching
Today I added an Inside Stitching page, which is sort of an homage to our tailors. It also is a nice example of how things work around here when I ask Denali for a quick photo ...
2021-03-01 ... Thanks to Jen Bonney for a cool photo!
Snowflake on WeatherWool Fabric.
2021-02-27 ... Lucky Truck
We've been packing up the new All-Around Jackets (see previous item) for shipping, and we had a hefty stack of them needing to go out. Rather than wait for our UPS guy, Troy, to make his regular stop here on Monday, we planned to bring them to the local UPS store. But I noticed a UPS truck delivering to the neighbors, which was unexpected for a Saturday. We flagged down the driver and he was happy to take a healthy stack of boxes off our hands. Saved us multiple trips to the UPS store. It seems that UPS guys are always energetic and cheerful. Got to admire that!
2021-02-26 ... All-Around Jackets
Today we zipped into NYC to pick up the balance of the Lynx Pattern All-Around Jackets that The Factory8 has been working on. We'll get to Drab and Duff AAJs in March, I am pretty sure. This has been so long delayed ... very frustrating for everyone.
On the plus side, we sent our some size Large AAJs over the last 10 days or so and have gotten some great feedback. Really great feedback. One gent called last night and said that despite his OCD, he could find nothing wrong with his new All-Around Jacket ... and that he'd be buying more WeatherWool.
2021-02-25 ... Wool takes to the seas with Prada
Woolmark is the marketing and education arm of the Australian Wool Industry, and they put out some great material. Anyone interested in wool should probably get on their mail list and visit the website. Today's mail from Woolmark has a story about the sailing team sponsored by Prada and Pirelli that is wearing uniforms partly made of wool in their efforts to challenge for the America's Cup. AND ... anyone who thinks WeatherWool is expensive should visit Prada's website!
2021-02-24 ... Redwing Blackbirds, Cowbirds and Grackles Today
The season's first Redwing Blackbirds (males), Cowbirds and Grackles showed up at the house here in North Jersey. To me, the Redwings males are the first migrants that tell Spring is really coming on! But none of these birds have visited our bird feeder since last year. They are a very welcome sight!!
This year it seems like there was a very bright line between winter and spring. On Monday (two days ago) we had a brief but serious snow storm ... got a few inches (8-10 cm) in the morning, and I was surprised that the forecast called for the snow to turn to rain, the temperature to jump above freezing, and sunshine in the afternoon ... and then for the next two weeks, daily highs in the 40s and 50s (around 6 to 11C). But it looks like the weatherfolk nailed it. Winter weather seems to have ended about noon on Monday. Never seen such a sharp break from Winter to Spring. Today's high will be 60F (16C) in the sunny spots.
Walking some packages to the Post Office on what will probably be the last really wintry day of the Season (2 days ago). The Blaze Orange addition to my Big Brim Boonie is a strip of our MidWeight (previously) Undyed Fabric that Debby dyed. She sewed it onto the Hat with a few quick stitches and this satisfies New Jersey's Blaze/Safety Orange requirements for firearms seasons.
2021-02-23 ... Fabric ... Light Test ... Vendors are Partners
Fabric: Over the weekend we learned we'll be getting some extra Fabric. MTL, our weavers, had run out of undyed yarn (because Debby rejected some other yarn ... different story!) while weaving Batch 5 FullWeight Lynx Fabric. So we took the smallest bale of Batch 7 clean fiber and sent it from Chargeurs to Crescent Spinning Mills in Wisconsin, where Denali visited today. Crescent spun about 520 pounds (236 kg) of yarn, which they sent to MTL. And MTL was able to weave another 450 yards (411 meters) of FullWeight Lynx Fabric, about 150 yards (137 meters) more than we expected ... and I was happy just to be getting the Fabric at all. This Fabric will still need to be finished at American Woolen Company beginning March 8th and soon thereafter to the tailors.
Light Test: Sometimes people hold our Fabric up to a light source and estimate the warmth or wind-resistance by how much light comes thru. Thinking about this over the weekend, and making some observations, I've concluded that the color of the materials being compared is really important, and that lighter colors transmit more brightness than darker colors. I started working on a Light Test page that describes my thoughts.
Vendors are Partners: A while back I put up a Vendor Relations page. I'm changing that to Partner Relations. Everyone we work with, whether we buy goods or services from them, are truly our Partners. So I changed the page to Partner Relations.
2021-02-22 ... American Woolen Re-Opening
American Woolen Company, who does critical work for us, is re-opening on March 1st, and we will have about 1500 running yards (1370 meters) of loom-state Fabric delivered to them on March 8. They should complete work on that Fabric in about a week, and we'll soon have the tailors busy. The bolts of Fabric will be about 53 inches (135 cm) wide, so, in this case, a running yard is almost 1.5 square yards. And 1500 running yards is enough Fabric to make almost 500 garments.
2021-02-20 ... Watch Caps, Gaiters and Snow Cones
Today we were in NYC to pick up some more Neck Gaiters and Watch Caps ... MANY THANKS to The Factory8 and Tailored Industry for putting up with our many tweaks over the development of these pieces. It was REALLY NICE to see Manhattan as busy as it was today. Seems to be slowly getting back to normal. One day this past summer, midtown was so deserted it was kind of like a horror movie.
And I hope you won't mind ... yesterday we had some (more!) fresh snow and Debby got the idea to make Snow Cones with Zabz (Isabelle)... which delighted her. She made Snow Cones for all of us ... real snow, our own maple syrup and vegetable coloring. And actually it delighted the rest of us, too!
2021-02-15 ... Added Secret Service to WarriorWool Program
Today we are proud to add the United States Secret Service Presidential Protection Division to the list of donation recipients of our WarriorWool Program.
A customer who already has two Neck Gaiters ordered four more. We know some people have been buying Neck Gaiters as gifts. It's great to get such strong affirmation!
2021-02-13 ... Finally ... some wovens!
Yesterday we were in NYC to pick up the first batch of woven product -- All-Around Jackets -- we have made in a long time. We have made some knits, but knits are really just a sideline for us. The woven items, such as AAJs, are our lifeblood. Advisor JR Morrissey and his team did a really fantastic job of sewing these AAJs. The craftsmanship is the best yet! Size Large is pretty well already packaged and on its way to customers, although we have a few left. Size Extra Large coming in a few days. And Anoraks are underway ... Only Fabric available right now is FullWeight Lynx Pattern.
2021-02-11 ... Feedback on Samples
It took us quite a while to come up with the idea of offering Fabric Sample Packs for free. And over the last 6 months or so Denali has really made the Sample Pack look professional. The Samples have proven a very effective way of letting people get a sense of WeatherWool. And we sometimes get feedback. Thanks to Andrew Gorsuch for these notes, received today: "Just got my samples. Mouton is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Really happy you’ve included actual scrap cuts of the full weight and mid weight. I really can’t express how impressed I am by theses samples. Today would be a perfect day for your anorak, can’t wait to have one." When Andrew gave permission to use his name, he added: "Yes use whatever I’ve said with my name or without as you’d like sir. I meant what I said. This looks like incredible material, I really can’t wait to get my hands on an anorak."
2021-02-10 ... Tremendous Names!
@HawkTracker making Fire at Storyteller Rock, Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina's Blue Ridge Range. All those names really knock me out, and as soon as I saw HawkTracker's post last month I asked permission to use it. BIG THANKS to Kevin Tincher, Holistic Health Practitioner, Wilderness Skills Instructor, Co-Owner Blue Star Hemp/Blue Star Health and Wellness!!
Honored to have @HawkTracker making fire in WeatherWool at Storyteller Rock on Grandfather Mountain in the Blue Ridge
2021-02-09 ... Production Status Page updated ... and Related Info Page
Yikes ... I was really surprised to find this morning that I had not updated the Production Status page for over two months. Sorry about that. Time flies!
As we come across interesting info, we add to the Related Information page. Today Alex flagged another short video describing how microfibers from synthetic clothing have penetrated our bodies (by the millions), the foods we eat and the global environment. Here is the relevant item:
- Synthetic clothing continually releases small amounts of plastic and other materials ... where do these pollutants go, and what effects are they having? This is not a concern with woolens. Click here for a Youtube video on the same subject. Here is another YouTube video -- 6 minutes -- describing the abundance and spread of microfibers released from the wear and cleaning of synthetic clothing. The video offers the claim that these microfibers are so abundant that filters designed to capture them were removed from washing machines because the filters clogged up so quickly. The video claims the microfibers are everywhere in Nature, and that millions of these microfibers have infiltrated the bodies of all of us ... and that we get more every day from the foods we eat. We love that our 100% Merino Fabric is fully biodegradable and does not contribute to this problem.
2021-02-07 ... "NICE JACKET!"
The woman checking receipts at the Costco exit noticed my Lynx Pattern Shirt and said "Nice Jacket!". This has actually happened a bunch of times over the years, and I hope responding "Thanks, my family made it." seems appropriate. She answered "I thought so. I've never seen that pattern before. I know it's not available in stores."
A few minutes before the Super Bowl kickoff, a WeatherWool call came in, and a guy ordered a jacket. While giving me his information, he said something like "As in Kansas City Chiefs". I remarked to him that I'd told Debby, before I picked up his call, "whoever is calling now isn't a football fan" ... He said he called when he did assuming he'd be leaving a message rather than actually speaking with me. We both laughed and we both missed the kickoff.
2021-02-06 ... Sewing Team
Our Tailors continue work on Batch 5, FullWeight Lynx Pattern Anoraks and All-Around Jackets. A few days ago Advisor JR Morrissey, who is getting these garments sewn, wrote me. "We have 5 tailors, a cutter and a manager working on WeatherWool. Plus me and the factory owner. Lots of eyes on it." The factory JR refers to is a sewing shop in the same NYC Garment District building where JR has his office, workshop and showroom.
2021-02-05 ... Carbonizing and ... Compliment?
Carbonizing ... A LOT of processing is required to turn raw wool into tailor-ready Fabric. And right now we are trying to find someone who can run for us a process called "carbonizing", which removes any tiny bits of vegetable matter that might remain in the wool after some of the other processing. We had a conference call yesterday with our Fabric Engineer, Advisor Rob Stuart, and our friends at Burlington Fabrics, who have helped us with yarn and advice. Carbonizing involves bathing the wool in a 5% sulfuric acid bath to dissolve the "VM", then washing to reduce acidity, then drying. Burlington can do all these things ... BUT ... their fabrics are normally wider than ours. And washing our 61-inch bolts will reduce their width, which is normal and desirable from the point of view of our specs. Burlington's machines, however, cannot handle bolts narrower than 61 inches. So the question then becomes what can be done? Burlington cannot stop their high-volume line to for an entire shift to adjust their equipment for us. And nobody even knows what would happen if we tried to package and ship wet, acidic wool to another team that would complete the finishing process. And we aren't willing to risk finding out. So we need to keep trying to find a way to "finish" the loom-state (greige-state) Drab and Duff Fabrics we have on hand now ... enough Fabric to make about 370 garments ... if we can get it tailor-ready.
Compliment, I think! ... WeatherWool does not advertise. We don't pay anyone to wear our wool, and we don't sponsor trips or gatherings of media people. But, after discussion, we do furnish garments to "influencers", people who have a relatively high profile, such as large social media followings or TV shows. I think it's a pretty big compliment that people who can't or don't work with us for various reasons have also declined to return our wool, and continue to wear it.
2021-01-30 ... Chicken ... Chalk ... YouTube ... Backpacks
Chicken: A frequent topic when I talk with customers is why WeatherWool is expensive compared to other outdoors-oriented clothing, woolen or otherwise. And I explain about how always choosing quality of product over cost of manufacture gets expensive. And I often mention that electronics and computing are about the only areas I can think of where prices are falling AND quality is rising. Sometimes I mention that chicken also seems to be getting cheaper and better. And when I said something like "I don't know how big-box-stores sell those $5 roast chickens, my caller reacted strongly. Turns out he was a chicken farmer, and said those $5 chickens are NOTHING LIKE what a chicken should be. Nowhere near. I should have known. And now I have to try some carefully raised chicken ... There must be other areas where prices are falling and quality is rising. I might have said stock-brokerage commissions, but not so sure in light of current news ...
Chalk? ... I'd never really thought about chalk. It's kind of scratchy and makes a nasty sound on the chalkboard. It's dusty and not pleasant to handle. Not necessarily! It turns out (well, DUH!) that "chalk is not chalk". A friend stopped by with a pack of Hagoromo Chalk. This chalk is not dusty, not coarse to handle and glides onto a blackboard. BUT ... It turns out the company ceased operations in 2015, and our friend PAID UP quite a bit to get some of remaining Hagoromo chalk. According to this article, the business was shrinking due to a switch to whiteboards, loss of sales to less costly, lower quality chalk, and the poor health of the owner. Hagoromo developed their own formulas for chalk and their own machines to make it. I hope someone picks up the torch. Anyone who writes a blackboard will appreciate the upgrade from typical chalk.
And so I added Hagoromo Chalk to our page that pictures WeatherWool With the Best of other types of products.
YouTube: We have a little YouTube Channel that I don't really devote any time to. There is just so much else to work on. But yesterday we received a wonderfully thoughtful and inspiring note from a customer who very very persuasively argued that WeatherWool should really make a run at video. And he said I ought to be in front of the camera. Gulp!
Mystery Ranch Packs: We posted here and elsewhere asking if anyone had experience with Mystery Ranch backpacks and in particular their zippers. On Mystery's website it says they developed some of the packs with the Navy SEALs. It turns out one of our customers was on the SEAL Team that had a couple of guys working with Mystery Ranch. He said he's put their packs through extreme torture in an awful lot of places and conditions, and they never failed ... unlike any other pack he had tried. And he said JUNGLE WAS THE WORST.
2021-01-27 ... Zippers and Mailroom Royalty
In response to our question about the zips on Mystery Ranch Packs, Bob Yotko sent us some photos of his pack, and gave us permission to quote him: "My Anorak is the best piece of gear I've ever owned." We added Bob's comments to our Anorak Reviews from Civilians page.
Also ... Our Fabric Samples Booklet Specialist went "business formal" today ...
Great comment from Bob Yotko, who 2021-01-26 ... Indonesia ...
Someone in Indonesia ordered an All-Around Jacket today. Indonesia seems to fly under the radar here in the USA. Indonesia is the 4th most populous country, with about 270 million people spread over 17,000 islands. I've never been there, but Denali loved her Bali vacation a few years ago. And by coincidence a great friend of WeatherWool (who has gotten us on television) called today, and this friend has spent time filming there for major media.
ALSO ... Anyone have experience with Mystery Ranch Packs? Specifically the zippers? That was actually why that friend called today. He thinks Mystery Ranch uses fantastic zippers, and suggested we check on their sourcing.
2021-01-25 ... WarriorWool adds US Air Force SERE Specialists
We are proud to add the United States Air Force SERE Specialists to the list of recipients of WarriorWool Program donations! Recently, a retired Air Force Veteran donated two Anoraks. And so we contacted a couple of people we know in the USAF who wear WeatherWool, and as a result the Air Force Veteran's donations will go to the Air Force SERE Specialists. I was just on the phone with the donor, who was pleased to hear his donations will be heading to the USAF soon. And he mentioned he wears WeatherWool every day. This morning he was out in temp of 12F/-11C and his WeatherWool Watch Cap and Neck Gaiter were "just ... ahhhhhh!!". THANK YOU SIR!!
2021-01-24 ... Camo-Camo is Not Camo
One of our Advisors has been sponsored to do some great stuff by a big hunting-camouflage clothing company, and he is appearing in media for the last year or so wearing their garments. When I asked him if he would have to avoid being seen in WeatherWool, he told me he'd discussed us with his sponsors and they said our Lynx Pattern is "not camo", so no problem. Debby has been referring to Lynx Pattern as "camo-camo" for quite a while, so we really got a kick out of hearing this.
2021-01-22 ... Nice wool video ... GREAT to hear from The Teams
We got a call this morning for a member of the US Navy SEAL Teams ... he is interested in a quote for something like 100 Anoraks and 100 pairs of Pants. Very exciting for us, but we'll see ...
A friend of WeatherWool who is a manager at the famous giant Burlington Fabrics sent us the link to this interesting 1-minute tour of the structure of a wool fiber via a sort of 3-dimensional video, made by the International Wool Textile Organization.
2021-01-21 ... Open House ... Not Until Fall?
Had to pretty well cancel all our Open House Days for the foreseeable future. Hope all of you are getting along OK in virus-world.
On a happier note, and even though I posted my granddaughter only 10 days ago, this cracked me up. Zabs (my new name for Isabelle) is still short of five years old, but VERY determined to help out however she can with WeatherWool. She really likes to help Denali put together Fabric Sample Packs, which is quite time-consuming. Yesterday, Denali needed to do other things, but Zabs kept going on her own. Debby was a little concerned Belle shouldn't be working on her own, and suggested making cookies or something instead. Zabs said GRANDMA, I'M WORKING!!
and 2021-01-18 ... Customer Correction ... THANK YOU!
This morning, a customer named Dominik pointed out a mistake on the website. There are a ton of ways the website could be improved, and I really appreciate when someone lets me know ... particularly when someone flags an error, which was the case this morning. THANKS DOMINIK!
2021-01-17 ... WarriorWool Anorak Feedback
This was REALLY nice. And I posted it on the page for Military Anorak Reviews ... Today I was very happy to receive a couple of photos and an Anorak review from the US Marine Corps Scout Snipers. But what was really different about today's review was that I was invited to use the words on the photos here on the website and social media!
Also today, we created a new product. Many customers have asked us to add Handwarmer Pockets to our ShirtJac. We decided to leave our ShirtJac unchanged, except to call it a Shirt instead. And the ShirtJac with the Handwarmer Pockets, will be more like a jacket than a shirt.
2021-01-16 ... Telephone OUT ... Service NOT "uninterrupted"
Our phone was disconnected for several hours on Friday afternoon/evening. Like a lot of people, we'd come to the conclusion there wasn't much reason to keep our original home-phone land-line. Given that everyone has a cell, almost all the phone calls coming to the house line were trash calls anyway. But we'd had that number since 1984, when we moved here, and it's become part of many memberships and passwords, etc. An actual part of our lives. I'd also kept it because WeatherWool's -1776 number was attached to that account. But robo-callers had turned it into a nuisance. So we had it disconnected yesterday after receiving assurances from a Verizon manager that -1776 would not be affected. OOPS. So WeatherWool had no telephone for several hours on Friday. Sorry for any inconvenience!
We enjoyed some Maple Tea yesterday. Each year around January 10th we tap our maple trees. Here in the New York City suburbs, some say sugaring is possible from mid-fall all the way through early spring, because freezing nights and warmer days happen here fall, winter and spring. But we've always waited until at least January ... and now I feel like we're counting down the winter, already looking at spring. And actually daffodils are already a few inches tall in protected, sunny spots. But anyway, we normally drink some maple tea as part of syrup making. It takes about 100 gallons of sap to make 2 gallons of syrup. But you can drink the sap at any point after collection. Some stores sell maple water ... Once the sap has been concentrated to a degree of sweetness you like, just add tea to a mug and enjoy a hot seasonal drink. And actually, I often omit the tea.
2021-01-15 ... Mountain Men on History Channel
Last night on The History Channel, a new episode of Mountain Men aired, and it was a kick to see Jake Herak, a houndsman from Montana, wearing our ShirtJac in Lynx Pattern. Debby and I visited Jake and Dr Anika Ward, his sweetheart, at Anika's family's home in August. They are just the sweetest, most interesting people, and we are of course delighted that Jake has chosen to wear WeatherWool. We also really like the way this came about ... In 2018, one of the behind-the-scenes, out-in-the-weather guys on Mountain Men bought an Anorak for himself. He didn't tell us he was a media guy ... just placed an order the same as anyone else. Then a colleagues saw the Anorak, tried it out, and bought one for himself. Then the "Mountain Men" ... the guys who appear on camera, got interested and ... So far, two of the Mountain Men (Josh Kirk of Lander, Wyoming is the other) have worn WeatherWool on TV. There will be other TV people also, but I don't want to write anything about it until it's introduced on television. The big kick tho, is that the pros chose us ... the guys who appear on screen, in particular, can wear anything they want. Manufacturers fall all over themselves to get their products placed on TV shows, but these guys chose WeatherWool. Jake told me this ShirtJac was actually bigger than he wanted, and we've since replaced it with an Anorak, which we actually had to buy back from an understanding customer!
2021-01-14 ... Sultemeier Ranch out of business
[I'm actually writing this late on the 15th.] Yesterday I got the news that the Sultemeier Family in New Mexico, from whom we bought wool for the first time for Batch 7, has been forced by the current drought to exit the sheep business. Very sad, and we wish them All the Best.
2021-01-12 ... Belle!
WeatherWool is very much a family business. Debby and my children Alex and Denali work with us. And now Alex's daughter Belle, age 4!
Belle loves to help Aunt Denali prepare Fabric Samples Booklets. Belle is very good at applying the mailing labels!
2021-01-11 ... Anoraks and All-Around Jackets
We're making Anoraks and All-Around Jackets and Double Hoods now ... all in FullWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric. We've had to shut down "live" orders for the Anoraks ... all Anorak prices have been set to 0, so the website will accept backorders but not payment. We're not sure how many Anoraks we'll be able to make with the wider bolts and an unfortunately very limited amount of Fabric. If you want an Anorak, please order online or via phone. And we may be able to get a FullWeight Lynx made for you in this run.
The situation for All-Around Jackets and Double Hoods is a little better. The website will still accept live orders for those items. In you want an AAJ or Double Hood in a color other than Lynx, it's backorders only for now.
We're still hoping to get our other Batch 5 Fabrics soon ...
2021-01-02 ... Live Pricing for FullWeight Lynx Pattern Anoraks
Today I set "live" pricing on the website for Anoraks in FullWeight Lynx Pattern. People who have previous $0 backorders can now commit to their Anorak by placing an online order with payment info. Or we can accept payment info over the phone, and not run the charge until we actually ship the Anorak (we've had this SHIP ASAP arrangement in effect all along). But the main thing is we're confident the tailors will very soon be making Anoraks and All-Around Jackets in FullWeight Lynx Pattern. WOW ... this has been a long time coming!!
2021-01-01 ... Happy New Year
Wishing everyone ALL THE BEST, and MANY THANKS for sticking with us!
What a year we have just seen ... pretty sure the craziest year I have lived through ... and I was born in 1954.
In November of 2019, American Woolen was able to make for us a small amount of Fabric to prove what they can do (which is great!). Other than that, we have been out of Fabric and unable to make more since 2018. In December of 2019, I was very disappointed to hear we would not have more Fabric until January of 2020 ... and then came the virus. But now it really does look like our tailors will be working on the Batch 5 FullWeight Lynx Fabric within two weeks.