WeatherWool news and topics of interest.
BLOG entries by Ralph unless otherwise noted. Feedback welcomed!
-- Ralph@WeatherWool.com / 973-943-3110 (mobile)
2022-05-24 ... American Woolen on TV ... CPOs in Stock
We now have MidWeight CPO Shirts in stock in almost all sizes. Better Team has done a great job on these and we will have all the sizes shortly. Website will accept payment for anything we have in stock. Anything not in stock is still priced at 0 to enable no-obligation backorder.
It was a kick last night seeing American Woolen Company on Mike Rowe's current show How America Works. I've been at AWC many times, and have met with all the people that were featured on the show. Kirk, the head of maintenance, is the only one I have not actually worked with. I was not aware how varied are Keith's responsibilities. It was not shown last night, but Keith also runs the loading dock, and helps me load/unload. Jay actually wrote the material that appears on our Finishing page. And I am in touch with Giuseppe a couple of times a week. Giuseppe and Jacob appear on our American Woolen page, and have given me some great material for the website.
What I like best about AWC -- besides they make fantastic Fabric for us -- is how Jacob Long (Owner) and Giuseppe Monteleone (Production Manager) truly value the entire AWC team. I don't think Jacob was even mentioned on the show last night. And whenever I speak with Giuseppe, he is always very emphatic about the contributions of his entire team.
Mainly, tho, without American Woolen, I do not think we would have a company. As stated in the intro to the show last night, there are only four woolen mills in the entire USA. Great show, great work AWC.
A roll of our MidWeight Drab Fabric as labeled by American Woolen
2022-05-23 ... Mountain Man Josh Kirk and Advisor Fisher Neal
Yesterday, Fisher and his Mrs stopped by with their new pup, an Irish Water Spaniel. Fisher loves waterfowling, and he's got some serious plans for the young "Snug"! Fisher also picked up a CPO Shirt. Yesterday was HOT and Fisher was comfortable (in the shade!) in the CPO without a base layer.
Last night I had a great talk with Mountain Man Joshua Kirk. Joshua operates out of Lander, Wyoming, and I'll probably be visiting Josh again this summer, when Debby and I will be in Wyoming. The new season of MOUNTAIN MEN on the History Channel will begin in late summer.
2022-05-22 ... American Woolen on HOW AMERICA WORKS
Mike Rowe has become very well known because of his TV Show Dirty Jobs. Mike has a newer show, How America Works, on Fox Business. Tomorrow (Monday 23 May 2022, 8PM Eastern time), How America Works will feature American Woolen Company, the mill that spins our yarn and finishes our Fabric. After having worked with American Woolen for almost four years, we've gotten to know them very well, they are friends, and we rely on them very heavily. We are really looking forward to seeing this show. VCR is set to tape it! Is it proper to say "Break A Leg" even though the footage was taped a few months ago?
MidWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric in "finishing" at American Woolen
The Wikipedia entry on Rowe that I linked above pretty well buries Rowe's current work with Fox, and does not provide a link to How America Works. Wikipedia is a fantastic source of information on a great many subjects, and we support and admire their goal of putting all human knowledge at everyone's fingertips. But even Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger knows Wiki is not always even-handed. And my apologies for a para that has nothing to do with wool, but it seems necessary.
2022-05-21 ... Armed Forces Day
I was out front filling the bird feeder when my friend Allison drove by. He pulled over to tell me about another neighbor he wanted to introduce to me because she is interested in our wool. And that is the only wool-connection to this Armed-Forces-Day-entry.
Perhaps because today is Armed Forces Day (SOMEONE at DoD needs to keep this page current???!!!), Allison was wearing a Tuskegee Airmen hat. I asked him if he knew our neighbor Fred is the son of a Tuskegee Airman, and the nephew of another. Allison knew Fred, but didn't know about Fred's Dad. Allison's own connection with the Airmen comes through his Mrs, who is the daughter of Army Colonel Thoedore Lumpkin, an intelligence officer who worked with the Tuskegee Airmen. One of Colonel Lumpkin's friends and contacts in the Airmen was General Charles McGee, the only pilot to fly in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Allison's father-in-law passed away only lately. It's pretty great that children of these tremendous Veterans have lived and raised their families on our block!
Debby and I also have our own distant connection to the World War II flyers. We have some involvement with Seamans Airport (9N3), a small general aviation airport in Pennsylvania; Seamans Airport, on Seamans Road in Benton Township (Northeastern) Pennsylvania. We were told the Seamans Family was granted their land by William Penn himself. Sounds great, but I haven't tried to verify that. In any case, nearly 100 years ago, two of the Seamans boys got their hands on an airplane and began barnstorming in the area. Both of the boys eventually became very serious professional flyers. Bobby Seamans had a long career with Pan Am. Bobby died a few years before I ever visited Seamans field. But his brother, whom everyone called Uncle Bill, was still doing really well in the early 2000s. Uncle Bill was telling us stories about his days with the Flying Tigers, and as a Military flight instructor. Because of our neighbor, Debby asked if he'd trained any of the Tuskegee Airmen. Bill was a big guy, and he had a lot of steam well into his 90s. But he was very hard of hearing, so he didn't talk so much as shout. And he was always emphatic, so his response to Debby was HELL, I TRAINED ALL OF 'EM!!
And it turned out that Uncle Bill not only remembered my neighbor's Dad and Uncle, but Uncle Bill and Uncle Roscoe were friends and had stayed in touch, regularly corresponding via snail-mail. A great little circle that both my neighbors enjoyed hearing about.
Uncle Bill and Col Lumpkin both lived almost 100 years. General McGee died in January of this year at age 102.
2022-05-20 ... Shipping CPOs
We are now shipping MidWeight Lynx Pattern CPO Shirts in sizes Medium, Large, XLarge and 2XLarge, and website will accept payment for these items. The other MidWeight Lynx sizes should be completed next week, as well as the MidWeight Drab. When the rest of the CPOs come in, I will update the website to accept payment. Of course you can also order over the phone.
Some people have backorders as old as 2019, and we have raised prices since then. We will of course honor price at time of original order.
We have no plans to make FullWeight CPOs this year. We are really thinking of the CPO as a MidWeight garment and the ShirtJac as a FullWeight garment. We hope to make ShirtJacs a few months down the road ... but as usual, I can't promise anything not already in my possession.
2022-05-19 ... QR Code
QR (Quick Response) Codes have been around a long time, although I haven't paid much attention. But the cellphone-for-everything crowd, which grows every day, is very fond of them. And Alex decided to generate some QR Codes for us. From a few minutes reading on Wikipedia, a QR Code can contain a lot of information. Very sweet that QR Codes can be freely generated by anyone (THANKS to Denso Wave, the company that invented them!) and readable worldwide.
Alex decided we needed to experiment with QR Codes, and he made one that points to the page on this website that covers our Anorak:
I pointed my phone's camera at this image (here on the Blog), and my phone read it, displayed the Anorak link and brought up the Anorak page when I gave the OK. If anyone tests this and it doesn't work, please LMK!
Great work, Alex! ... Now we have to figure out how we might use the QR Codes. WeatherWool is not in retail stores, so we don't have hang tags. But I have been thinking about doing "trunk shows" (meaning you park your vehicle and pull things out of the trunk) on the sidewalks of NYC, and mannequins wearing garments with hang tags and QR Codes would be useful in that situation.
2022-05-18 ... Replacing Shock Cord with Wool!
We have Hooded Jackets in MidWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric coming in a couple of months. Until now, the cords that we have used to adjust the front of our Hoods have been make of synthetic shock cord. The shock cord worked well, but when the Hoods are snugged to the face, the shock cord, being somewhat stiff, sticks out and can be inconvenient. The wool cord is limp and will lie flat. Also, some people like to adjust the Hood by tying the left and right cords together under their chin. The wool cords will tie off much better than the shock cords. We will use the same cord locks as before.
This wool cord is made from the same fiber, same yarn, we used for garments. We had some brown (is Debby going to correct me on the color?) yarn left over, and we brought it to Fleck Knitwear. Peter did some work tuning his "string machine" so that it could handle our yarn, and by the end of the next day, we had enough wool cord for the run of Hooded Jackets. Great work, Peter!!
2022-05-17 ... Batch 7 Update
Just got a production schedule update for Batch 7. It looks like the first Fabric will be FullWeight Lynx Pattern, completed about 5 August. I also updated the overall story and background about Batch 7 production (and Batch 8). We still have not quite nailed down the purchase of the greasy wool for Batch 9.
As for Batch Numbers themselves ... WeatherWool believes it is important to share information with our customers, and identifying the specific Batch of our 100% Wool Merino Jacquard Fabric from which each garment was made is an interesting way to track any differences in wool, processing and tailoring. We strive to maintain our original standards, so these differences should be minimal, but we also always strive to improve. The Batch Number of each WeatherWool Merino Jacquard Fabric Batch has been sewn into every WeatherWool Garment beginning with Batch 5 in 2021. The Batch Number Tag is usually located under the Size Tag or the MADE IN USA Tag.
2022-05-16 ... Nice YouTube Review
Kirk, "Back In The Woods", just published a nice YouTube review of WeatherWool. About a year ago, Kirk bought an All-Around Jacket and Anorak for himself, and an Anorak for his Mrs. Until quite lately, I did not know (or maybe I forgot!) Kirk has a popular YouTube channel. Kirk is a longtime wool-lover, and that informs his review, because he is able to speak from long experience with other brands besides ours. And he does make some direct comparisons. The WeatherWool review is his Video #182. THANKS, KIRK, for the review, and for giving us a try in the first place!!
2022-05-15 ... THE BEST
Yesterday, Denali asked on Facebook and Instagram for people to name their favorite purchases. We didn't get many responses, partly because these companies (both owned by Meta) are not showing us to nearly as many people as they used to. That's probably because we don't advertise, and so I can't blame them. But I just reworded these posts to make it clear that we are wondering about people's favorite companies and products across the entire marketplace ... not restricted to WeatherWool or clothing. We'd like to know what companies and products are most-admired. Cars, trucks, boats, optics, breakfast cereal ... We want to be THE BEST at what we do and knowing what companies and products our customers see as THE BEST will help us. THANKS. A while back I created a page, With The Best, showing our garments with a handful of products that are often cited as The Best. I'd love to grow that page, and I'd love to look at the products that most inspire people.
2022-05-14 ... "It's awful"
We do everything we can think of to make garments people want to wear. And we regularly (gratefully!!) receive wonderful feedback from people who have our garments. But sometimes someone really surprised me, such as this note sent yesterday by Minnesotan Arrio Farugie: "I haven't been able to wear any WeatherWool for almost a week. It's awful. Should be back at it with lower night temps next week tho!" THANK YOU, ARRIO! ... Until I started working with woolens, I had no idea how many people love the cold and really look forward to winter.
2022-05-13 ... CPO Shirts and Hooded Jackets ... Sigma III and GI Bill
Better Team USA is hoping to finish work on the CPO Shirts next week, and we will ship as soon as we check them! The CPOs are being made in MidWeight Solid Drab Color and MidWeight Lynx Pattern. Factory8 has just shipped to us what is -- hopefully -- the last prototype of the Hooded Jacket. We will probably receive it on Monday.
Congratulations to longtime WeatherWool Friend and Advisor Rob Allen and Sigma III Survival School on the acceptance of their offerings into the GI Bill Training/Education!! Rob was working on this for four years!
2022-05-12 ... The Swamp
Something came up which caused me to re-read, and update, the page on The Swamp, our little bit of swampy heaven here in North Jersey. It's a great place and crazy that it is so close to NYC!
2022-05-11 ... Madrona and WeatherWool Fabric
We really like that other people enjoy working with our Fabric, and the Collaboration page shows some of what others have done. People interested in having custom garments made from our Fabric should get in touch with Ruby and West at Madrona Wear.
We loves what Ruby and West at Madrona Wear have done with our Fabrics!
2022-05-10 ... Inflation and Price Hikes -- Last Year
I guess to every cloud there is a silver lining. We have had so many delays in the last four years and so many cost increases in 2021 that we won't need to raise prices this year. And WOW! ... inflation is in the news now, but we saw a lot of this last year ... price-hikes of 10 or 15%. And shortages. And unusually long delivery times. But ordering last year set us up pretty well for this year.
ALSO ... many people have placed backorders with us in 2021, 2020 ... and even pre-Covid in 2019 and 2018. For all backorders, the original price at the time of the order remains in effect.
Stopping off at Costco this morning, the gas line was so long we had trouble getting into the parking lot. (And we didn't even want gas.)
2022-05-09 ... Delay
The flooding of Littlewood Dye House caused by Hurricane Ida is really hitting our calendar now. The floods delayed the dyeing of our fiber by about 6 months, and now it is looking like September before the Batch 7 Fabric is ready for the tailors. I was really hoping to get at least some of Batch 7 in June. And of course, once we do finally get the Fabric, the tailors need significant time.
2022-05-08 ... Mother's Day ... VE Day
Wishing all the Moms a super day!! Here at WeatherWool, we couldn't function without the help and support of Debby and Cecy!
We have always been a little bit distressed that WeatherWool is yet to offer anything designed specifically for women. We have made some prototypes, but never anything in production. This year, we fully intend to make our Women's Blanket Coat.
Today is also the Anniversary of VE Day. For people born in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, the end of World War II in Europe (Victory in Europe Day) in 1945 is never to be forgotten.
2022-05-07 ... Shoddy
We try to keep up with what other companies are doing. We're a tiny family business and we have a lot to learn. Watching what the big companies do seems like a good way to get some lessons. But actually, I usually wind up thinking WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO THAT! And that's my reaction when I see others offering shoddy.
SHODDY ... Noun ... "an inferior quality yarn or fabric made from the shredded fibre of waste woollen cloth or clippings". I've blogged about shoddy before; the word that is now synonymous with poor quality comes from 200 years ago, when relatively low-priced, inferior "shoddy" garments were well-known in London. The first time I saw shoddy was, amazingly, the line of woolens that were offered for a couple of years by the famous Weatherby, a company known for high-quality rifles. Of course, they didn't use the word shoddy, but the tags stated the garments were made from recycled wool, and they didn't feel like something I would want to wear.
In general, longer wool fiber makes nicer garments. Maybe there is another way now, but historically, recycling woolens involves chopping and shredding and therefore making the fibers shorter. And in some cases, the shoddy garments were actually glued together.
I bring this up now because I was surprised to see Canada Goose, surely a high-end brand, offering garments made mostly from recycled wool. They describe KIND FLEECE as "our next generation of fleece, an ultra-soft and breathable fabric made with 62% recycled wool, 18% wood-based TENCEL™ Lyocell, 13% partially bio-based Sorona® Polymer and 7% Polyamide." They are also featuring recycled polyester in some garments. They explain their motivation is sustainability, lowered carbon-footprint, fighting global warming ("keep the planet cold and the people on it warm"). And the garments are definitely not shoddy in the traditional sense of being inexpensive.
These products have been available for a few months, but very few reviews are published on the website. I'd be really interested to hear what people think.
2022-05-06 ... "Good as NOW?"
Yesterday a customer wrote me that the seam attaching the Hood to his Anorak had separated a little. I apologized for the failure, sent him a return shipping label, and explained that we'd get his Rak back to him quickly, "as good as now", which is a funny sort of typo. I don't really know if that even counts as a typo, given that the E (for NEW) and the O are typed with different hands. But in any case, it was a funny mistake.
The Hood seam failure is the only known problem with the Anorak, and we have really bolstered the construction at that spot, so, mostly a legacy issue. The Anorak in question yesterday had been shipped about three years ago. Nevertheless, we are still mindful of this, and we do suggest everyone doff the Anorak by pulling from the shoulders rather than the Hood. And fully unzip the sides first!
2022-05-04 ... "WeatherWool Wednesday"
@66grinch, a great customer in Chicago, tends to do Instagram posts in our wool on Wednesday, with the tag #WeatherWoolWednesday! THANKS GREG! ... or should I say THANKS GRINCH!! (I should ask Greg where the GRINCH handle comes from.) Greg has friends in the Chicago Fire Department, which is why a Chicago FD Truck is in the background. Here is the photo and text Greg posted today:
@weatherwool #chicago #chicagofiredepartment #supportfirstresponders #chicagobushcraft #urbanbushcraft #weatherwoolwednesday #weatherwool #weatherwoolarmy #weatherwooljapan #weatherwoolquality #weatherwoolanorak #weatherwoolwatchcap #madeinusa #madeinamerica #wearwool #wool #hardcoreluxury #lynxpattern #hikinggear #neckgaiter #mensstyle #ruggedstyle #ruggedworkwear @thewoolmaven #merinowool #supportsmallbusiness #bestwool #buyoncecryeonce
2022-05-03 ... "Are You Padula from WeatherWool?" ... AAJ "on skin"
I rarely wear my All-Around Jacket without a base layer, but when I arrived at The Swamp today, the temp was about 70F/21C, and AAJ-on-skin was the way to go. All good, except there was no sign of turkeys, a gobbler being the reason for my visit. The mosquitoes are just starting to feel their oats, and it's nice they can't bite through the wool. Funny thing happened. Something came up, and I needed to get to the tailors quickly, so I was in a hurry when I got back to the truck. I loaded up the pockets of the AAJ with everything I needed for the next turkey hunt, and THOUGHT I pulled out my phone and wallet. But when I got home, no wallet. I looked through the pockets, looked all through the truck, checked my clothes about 8 times, looked around the house ... no dice. So I went through the cargo pockets of the AAJ AGAIN, and there was my wallet, along with so much other stuff I had missed it the first time I checked. This AAJ is the original AAJ, the first garment made from Fabric that passed my field-testing, in 2012. The newer AAJs have bigger cargo pockets, plus a bunch of other pockets.
Advisor Bob Padula, upon whom we have always relied to guide our purchases of "greasy" wool, went to dinner last night with some long-time friends. But among the group was someone Bob had not met, a friend-of-a-friend. When they were introduced, the new guy said something like "Are you Bob Padula from WeatherWool?" ... "WOW, I'm meeting a celebrity!"
2022-05-02 ... No Pants or Woven Hats this Year
I'd been hoping to make more Pants, and more of our woven Hats this year, but there is too much else to do. And although we are making a large quantity (for us, at least) of Fabric, it's been so long since our production was really rolling that we need to focus on Jackets. Woven Hats and Pants will have to wait until 2023. We are working on knitted Watch Caps for October 2022. And we will make Double Hoods this year, because many people who order All-Around Jackets also order the Double Hood.
2022-05-01 ... WELCOME TO MAY! ... Testing Outerwear
Here in North Jersey, May is such a wonderful month!! Hope everyone has a great May!!
Searching online for "Best Winter Jackets" brings up lots of ads. But also, Outdoor Gear Lab. I really admire some elements of their approach. They conduct what seem to be thorough tests of outdoor clothing, and post the top-rated items. They don't accept advertisements or content from manufacturers. Nor do they accept free items for testing. They buy and test standard items. I also like that they are out of Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the weather is really serious and highly variable. My younger son has lived in Wyoming since 2012, and I've been there many times. Wyoming is mostly high plains, and the weather can change from mild to SEVERE very quickly.
Outdoor Gear Lab tested men's winter jackets, and posted their list of Best Winter Jackets for Men of 2022. Everything on their list is synthetic. And this is where many people would advise me not to bring up the comp, let alone point out a website where the comp is touted. But as usual, my perspective is we are happy to compete with anyone. (And actually, I still don't know of another company offering Hardcore Luxury ... so I'm not sure we really have a direct competitor.) In that spirit, about two weeks ago, I filled out the contact form at Outdoor Gear Lab (I did not see any actual email address or phone number), asking them if they ever test any woolens. I also wrote that I'd give them a week or so to respond before making this post. But I did not hear back from them. Their top-rated piece is Arc'teryx Camosum Parka: "This stylish jacket is the closest thing to perfection we have tested." I discuss their evaluation criteria toward the end of our Testing Outerwear page (which I just updated), and will only say here that I would love to test against Arc'teryx, or anyone else for that matter.
A few years ago, an official tester for Big Army did an unofficial test of our Anorak. (He told me an official test would require about 10 pieces and a bunch of money.) His unofficial results were that WeatherWool has too low a warmth:weight ratio. I asked him when is the ratio calculated? Not after a long, double-time march. And not after swimming across a river. But anyway, the bottom line in this case came from the casual side. He did not return the Rak, and told me he wears it every day.
2022-04-29 ... How Many Fibers in Yarn?
A few days ago, Barnes (the guy who made the Swamp Stew in the Blog of 24 April) asked me "How many fibers in a cross-section of your yarn?". And I was surprised that I'd never (as far as I remember) thought to ask this myself. So, I asked Giuseppe, Monteleone, Plant Manager at American Woolen. Giuseppe oversees the spinning of our yarn and the finishing of our Fabric.
A perfect section of woolen yarn is made with about 100 fibers. A perfect section of worsted yarn is made with about 60 fibers.
Update after some followup ... the situation is not as simple as the foregoing exchange presents it. Of course I have a lot more to learn!! Looking forward to posting more complete info.
2022-04-28 ... WeatherWool Trademark in Canada
Polson IP Law, on our behalf, has filed for registration of the WeatherWool trademark in Canada. The World Intellectual Property Organization has accepted our submission and the application will be forwarded to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for processing.
2022-04-27 ... ALONE
Today Benji Hill told me the 9th Season of the $500,000 ALONE Survival Competition will debut May 26th, 9PM Eastern Time, on the History Channel. This Season, two of the contestants chose to wear WeatherWool. The contestants are very tight-lipped about the outcome of the contest. All I know now is that everyone survived.
We first heard from an ALONE contestant in 2018 (see following section on Brady Nicholls). And so when Benji phoned in summer of 2021, telling me about the situation he would be in, but unable to give particulars, it sounded familiar. I told Benji it sounded like he was going to be on ALONE, and that I understood he would not be able to comment. We talked a long time and decided a Mouton Jacket would work for Benji, who was most concerned about saving calories when the weather turned brutal. About a week later, Juan Pablo called, giving me the same basic info as Benji, and also wanting to wear Lynx Pattern. I told him it sounded to me like he was going to be on ALONE, and that I understood he couldn't really talk about it, but also telling him that I was pretty sure another contestant was going to be wearing Lynx and suggesting he check with the producers to make sure two people in Lynx would be OK. Juan Pablo called again a couple of days later and ordered the Anorak, along with Reversible Watch Cap and Neck Gaiter.
Benji and Juan Pablo purchased WeatherWool after a lot of research.
I didn't hear from anyone about the show until early February of 2022, when Teimojin Tan phoned. Teimojin, a medical doctor, was a contestant along with Benji and Juan Pablo, and had been impressed with the wool. So I knew the wool had performed well enough that Teimojin wanted to test it himself -- his medical specialty is survival -- and that all 10 contestants had survived the competition.
We will surely be watching History Channel 9PM on May 26th!
2022-04-26 ... Blankets
Suddenly we are doing a little work on Blankets. We had a few yards of MidWeight Undyed Fabric that had been left over from a several years ago, and we are making three Crib Blankets. If we like these enough, that may be sufficient reason to make Undyed Fabric again. We've also shipped a couple of other small Blankets in the last few days, and we're looking forward to any feedback.
2022-04-25 ... Advisor Leo Grizzaffi Among Veterans Honored
Honor Flight Southland is an organization that flies Veterans from Southern California to Washington, DC, where they tour the monuments erected to their service. This screen capture below is from KTLA TV (Los Angeles) coverage of the welcome ceremony given to the World War II and Korean War Vets upon their return to LA. Thanks for Honor Flight Southland for their great work. The emotion of the Veterans is clear, and I know Leo, who has previously spent a lot of time in DC, has been looking forward to this trip for weeks.
Advisor Leo Grizzaffi, 87, is a Veteran of the Korean War
Leo told me South Korea has a special program for those whose service prevented the country from being overrun.
2022-04-24 Again ... "Swamp Stew" for Dinner Tonight!!
My friend Barnes has been interested in wild foods for many years, but had never hunted until 2011, when he bagged a deer at The Swamp on his 2nd-ever hunt. Since then, he has become an avid hunter, and has added a great deal of meat to his wild menu. He also is an end-to-end wild foods guy. By that, I mean he butchers his animals himself, and then puts together some very seriously fine dining.
A few days ago, he stopped by with a meal he'd prepared for Debby and me. Wine, artisan bread, a tantalizingly-filled heavy enamel casserole dish (I think that's what it's called), and a beautifully printed explanatory sheet detailing the "Swamp Stew" and the final baking step that would make it table-ready.
The Swamp Stew is properly referred to as Cassoulet au Confit d'Oie Sauvage et Saucisses de Toulouse, "au Marais".
From the explanatory sheet: "Confit of Canada Goose legs, wings, gizzard & skin | Toulouse sausage, made with Canada Goose breast \ Coco Tarbais beans, braised in Canada Goose stock | Berkshire Part ventreche, poached in Canada Goose fat".
Barnes shot the geese at The Swamp, and I really admire his use of the wings, gizzard, skin and fat, parts of the goose that many people will discard. Some people even discard the legs. Barnes believes using as much of the animal as possible is a way of showing proper respect for, and appreciation of, the quarry.
The Cassoulet was super rich and delicious and my photograph does not do it justice by any means. THANK YOU BARNES!!
2022-04-24 ... 50th Reunion
Last night I had some fun seeing the old gang at my 50-Year High School Reunion. It was actually closer to 51 years ... Class of 1971 ... event postponed because of the virus.
Of course everyone asked each other what have you been doing and what are you doing now. Everybody is 68 or 69 and most are retired but quite a few still working. When asked, I told people I make clothing, which naturally enough leads to some other questions. I said I wasn't satisfied with the woolens that were available, so I decided to make my own. That led to more questions, and this is where I felt funny. Our goal, to make the best All-Purpose Outerwear ever, still sounds -- even to me! -- crazy and arrogant. So I didn't say anything like that.
Two days ago (yesterday's Blog) in posts seen by thousands of people, I asked on Instagram and Facebook what other companies make Luxury Garments with Hardcore Performance. So far, only one name has come up. The folks at Hardenco replied "We're working on it". They mostly work with cotton.
2022-04-23 ... Who Else?
I'm still not aware of another company offering Hardcore Luxury® garments, particularly woolens. Seems like there must be some, but I don't know who they are. And actually, this goes back to why I started WeatherWool in the first place. Last night I posted on Instagram and Facebook asking for names of companies offering luxury garments with hardcore performance. The folks at Hardenco replied "We're working on it". I was not familiar with their products, and took a look. They seem very different from us, and don't offer any woolens. But, like us, emphasize craftsmanship and quality. Some of the old-fashioned European makers of woolens offer garments that handle weather, and they are often pictured in a nice shirt and tie. But they always use tweed, from what I see. And tweed incorporates short, thick woolen fibers that are not comfortable on the skin. So I don't see that as luxury, regardless of how great the tailoring is.
Maybe I shouldn't be surprised by this situation, but it still amazes me. Why wouldn't a big-name fashion designer offering $3000 woolen jackets make something that can perform? If the big-name woolen companies offered luxury (and enhanced their performance), they have to raise their prices. But again, why not? When we started WeatherWool it was not at all clear that a soft, tough and highly weather-resistant woolen fabric could be made. We did it. Lots of others could have. Or at least I think they could have.
2022-04-22 ... Canvas Rebel Interview
The nice folks at Canvas Rebel e-Magazine published a very short written interview with me. And some photos showing both the Hardcore and Luxury aspects of WeatherWool. THANK YOU, Canvas Rebel!
2022-04-21 ... Power Out Again
Public Service predicts outage will last until late evening. We can't do much without power. I am writing this from my phone. Looks like shipping will not be possible today.
2022-04-20 ... Suggestions!
We love getting suggestions and ideas from our customers. We are grateful for all input! And we have a place in our filing system where we save every idea and suggestion. Ideas/suggs are filed/saved by garment, accessory (cord locks, zippers), Fabric, fiber, dyeing, customer service ... whatever the idea is, we probably already have a place where it belongs.
Whenever we prepare to make something, we evaluate and re-evaluate all the ideas we have stored away. We always implement any idea we think will improve our products or service, so long as it does not violate our 100% USA policy.
We've been doing this for 13 years, and we have received a great many suggestions. And so at this point, almost all the ideas people send in have already been considered. One giant suggestion we did implement was Slot Buttons, which we had never heard of until Shannon tipped us. Slots are the only buttons we have used since then.
Most ideas are good. BUT most ideas also have secondary effects, and so usually it's a question of whether the pluses outweigh the minuses. For example, people frequently suggest making our Fabric more wind-resistant, like the traditional Loden. And maybe someday we will make an additional Fabric that is tighter. But the "minus" of wind resistance is breathability. The more wind resistance, the less breathability. We want our Fabric to be highly breathable, because we prize versatility. Our MidWeight Fabric actually came from suggestions that we make something lighter and less wind-resistant than our original Fabric, which we started calling "FullWeight" once we had developed our MidWeight. And so we have never tried to make our Fabrics tighter than the original spec.
We also get suggestions about ways to make our garments warmer. And again, we appreciate the suggestions. But we don't necessarily want to make any particular garment warmer because that would almost surely mean the range of comfort for the garment would be shifted toward the colder end. If the suggestion expanded the range of comfort, THAT would be a great sugg. But we don't want to gain 5 or 10 or 15 degrees of comfort at the low end if we lose the comfort at the higher end of the temperature range. Instead, we would come up with another garment.
I doubt we have ever found a change that is both better and cheaper. It seems in this biz, better is always more expensive. That, and our 100% USA requirement means that costs mount. For a long time I've been saying that the only areas I can think of where costs are dropping and quality is increasing are electronics, computing, telecommunications. And sometimes I would add that, over the decades, the relative cost of chicken has dropped substantially. I once mentioned chickens to a caller who, unbeknownst to me, was in the chicken business. WOW!! I got an earful from him. He agreed you can get some remarkably inexpensive chicken, but he was adamant that these mass-produced birds are trash compared to a roaster than has been raised properly. So I don't talk about cheap chicken anymore. And I didn't have any suggestions for the chicken pro.
2022-04-19 ... Viking Wool and Sheep
I heard recently that the Vikings, whose historical impact is inseparable from their sailing ships, made some, and maybe most of their sails from wool. The Vikings were dominant for a few centuries, and well-traveled. So techniques and materials must have varied. Sheep do well in the difficult climate of the North Atlantic Coast, and have provided meat and woolen clothing in that area for thousands of years. But the use of wool in sail making is less understood, and something of a surprise. I would have guessed that the weight of woolen sails, up high on a mast, would not have been helpful. But the other choice of material, flax, rots. Also, people will use what is available, and wool was more available than flax. No Wool, No Vikings, written in 2016, is an aptly-titled article about the importance of wool to the Vikings, and about some Norwegians keeping alive the old ways of producing wool and woolen goods.
2022-04-18 ... NZWTA
Our greasy (raw) wool purchases will again rely upon the services of the New Zealand Testing Wool Testing Authority. Thanks to our friends in NZ!! We purchase greasy based on careful evaluation of extensive lab testing. For many years, the USA only had one lab doing the tests. This lab closed a couple of years ago when the proprietor, Angus McColl, finally retired at age 86 after 56 years in business. Angus had warned for years that he was planning to retire, but we (the American wool industry) still were not prepared. The fact that American Ranchers relied for many years on, basically, one individual for their testing is something of a shock. And now we must send samples to New Zealand for testing. Luckily, NZWTA has a great reputation. I'm very grateful they are there to help us. And for sure nothing against our colleagues on the other side of Earth! But the USA ought to be able to handle this work internally, and the fact that we cannot is indicative. We are growing some great fiber here, and potential for growth in the American market -- for clothing alone -- is huge. Americans spend about $400,000,000,000 (four hundred billion) dollars annually on clothing, and wool is only 2-3% of that. The global clothing market is over $2 trillion.
Doing testing in New Zealand goes against the grain of our 100% American philosophy, but, this is testing of samples, not production. The only thing that comes back from NZ is an email with the results of the tests.
2022-04-17 ... Happy Easter and Passover
2022-04-16 ... International Trademark and Intellectual Property Page
The WeatherWool® trademark has just been granted a big step forward toward international registration. We have received the Certificate of Registration from the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization for this international trademark registration. This trademark has an effective registration date of December 02, 2021. David Orms, attorney at Polson Intellectual Property Law, explained:
The Trademark Offices in the countries we designated in our application - Australia; EUIPO [European Intellectual Property Office]; Japan; United Kingdom - will now process the application as if we had filed it directly with their office. It could take up to eighteen months for these offices to process the application. If there is no refusal, then you will automatically receive the trademark rights.
As a result of this development, I have put up a page on our Intellectual Property. These two little stories appear at the end of the IP page:
When "Average Joe" starts a business, the usual situation is that more money goes out the door than comes in. So, from even before WeatherWool, I have interacted with USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) directly in an effort to cut costs. Their lawyers have been very helpful and friendly, and they tend to be animals working 60 and even 80 hours a week. I've spoken with two or three of them on Saturday nights. One night I was talking with a trademark lawyer, and he was really going out of his way to deal with me. But finally he said something like: "You really should retain an Intellectual Property Attorney. I promise you, it will be the best money you ever spent." So I took his advice.
But before I had routinely brought all my IP issues to Polson, I had registered WeatherWool on my own. The trademarks don't last indefinitely, tho, and need to be regularly renewed. At one point, the PTO sent me some kind of renewal notice, and I did not handle it properly and in a timely manner. So I was horrified to receive a notice from the PTO telling me that registration of the WeatherWool trademark was ABANDONED. At that point I asked Polson to re-register WeatherWool and to handle all my IP. The advice from the USPTO lawyer was spot-on!
2022-04-14 ... Outdoor Pro Cleans his Anorak
We posted on April 4th about how the wool fares when left out in the weather for a year or two. One of our customers, Brad, is an outdoor pro who wears his Anorak all over the world doing all kinds of stuff. He definitely is not worried about how he takes care of the wool. Brad thought I'd be amused to see how he cares for his Rak:
This is how I "wash" my anorak. I leave it hanging in a tree over night after I beat the dust out of it with a stick. Sometime the wind and snow blow it around and off the tree. It's like a cold dry spin cycle, hahaha! - I didn't really mean to leave it out [in the snow] but we had some freak squalls blowing around recently.
2022-04-13 ... New Jersey
This isn't wool-related, but some people will be amused. ... Yet another example of New Jersey's hostility toward taxpayers and business owners. WeatherWool is a partnership, and must file partnership tax returns with Jersey, which assesses a filing fee (!!) based on the number of partners. The pols here are not satisfied that partnerships have tax liability (congrats if you live in one of the 9 states that generally don't have income tax!), but a partnership is also assessed a $275 fee per partner, per year, for filing the required forms. WeatherWool has 7 partners (the five of us in my immediate family, plus two friends with tiny ownership), so the annual filing fee is $1575. Last year, I got signals confused with my accountant, and both of us paid the partnership filing fee. We notified the state, and got no response until now. New Jersey refunded the extra filing fee, but CHARGED INTEREST. It was only a few bucks, but they actually charged interest on an overpayment. I would love to hear the logic behind that law. I'm born and raised here in North Jersey, and Debby in NYC and Long Island, which is basically the same thing. It really seems like they are pushing people out of here.
2022-04-12 ... Nice Field Test
Dramatic photo from Michael Riddle, United States Marine Corps Veteran, who purchased through the WarriorWool Program when he was on Active Duty:
Michael testing our wool: “No gloves. No layers. Just a cotton shirt and the FullWeight Duff XL Anorak with your Watch Cap and Neck Gaiter, in a Utah squall at 5-10 degrees F [about -14C] with 35-40 mph [about 60 kph] gusts of wind and heavy snow. Stayed toasty and bone dry.”
Michael is a big guy, and has experienced severe conditions in the Military. Most people would not be comfortable in the weather and clothing he describes. And he clearly was not far from shelter. Michael's test illustrates a major goal of ours: We hope people will wear WeatherWool even in mild conditions because they like it, and if circumstances somehow get nasty, the wool can make a huge difference.
2022-04-11 ... CPOs, Hooded Jackets, FullWeight Fabric
The CPOs are well under way at Better Team USA, which is managing the process of turning our MidWeight Fabrics (both Solid Drab Color and Lynx Pattern) into CPO Shirts. We expect to ship these garments around the end of this month.
Factory8 is completing the 3rd prototype of our Hooded Jacket. We are hoping to ship these in late June. This run of Hooded Jackets will be made in MidWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric, which is the only Fabric we have available to work with now.
Giuseppe, production manager at American Woolen, tells me he expects to receive our dyed fiber from Tintoria Piana, the dye house in Georgia, next week. Then .. spinning and weaving and finishing and tailoring! We will be making all four of our FullWeight Fabrics (Solid Colors Black, Drab, and Duff, plus Lynx Pattern).
2022-04-10 ... Collaboration
The great majority of companies that make garments don't also make fabric. We aren't unique in this regard, but we don't have a lot of company, either. For us, the Fabric is what it's all about, and years ago, the guys at American Trench, who made a Peacoat with our Fabric, told us they think of WeatherWool as a Fabric manufacturer who also makes garments. It is an apt description. There have been many people who bought a yard or two, and even a few companies that have bought larger quantities of Fabric. And we love to see what people do with our Fabric! So I should have put up the Collaboration page a long time ago. But ... I didn't do so until a few days ago. We hope to see a lot more people working with our Fabric, and THANKS to everyone who has taken a shot!
2022-04-09 ... Long-Overdue Welcome to Leo Grizzaffi
Leo has been a great friend to WeatherWool since about 2014. We met Leo way back when we were offering our earliest garments at "The Shows". Leo took an interest in what we were doing, and he's been helping us in various ways ever since. Because of his long career and significant involvement with much larger companies, I somehow automatically assumed he wouldn't want to be formally (to the extent we are "formal") involved with us. I should have known better. WELCOME, ADVISOR LEO, and THANKS for your thoughts and for introducing WeatherWool into some very interesting places!
2022-04-08 ... Advisor Daniel Vitalis and WildFed TV Show
My love for Wild Foods is what led me, eventually and indirectly, to start WeatherWool, and so I love that with WildFed, Daniel is "reconnecting people with wildness through food". And I also love having a Wild Foods Professional as an Advisor!
In this episode, airing Monday night, Daniel and a friend turn some Maine beaver into a great dinner!
Here, Daniel picks some wild Swamp Rose Hips that will lend some flavor -- and a lot of Vitamin C -- to the beaver dinner.
2022-04-07 ... Infrared
It's been a few years since we've seen infrared images of our garments. This morning, a customer in South Korea sent this IR photo of an All-Around Jacket. South Korea has a strict virus protocol/quarantine in effect and IR cameras are mandatory at the entrance of every building.
The image clearly maps the heat loss from the AAJ and the layers of wool from which the AAJ is constructed. Color tends toward orange with one layer of Fabric, and pink with three layers:
- The arms have a single layer of our FullWeight Fabric. Heat loss is reduced where the sleeves are folded/wrinkled
- Parts of the midsection of the AAJ also have just one layer of Fabric
- The top of the chest mostly has two layers because of the Double Yoke (cape)
- But the inside chest pockets are under the Double Yoke, making a 3rd layer in those places
- The Storm Flap forms a second and third layer of Fabric over the wool surrounding the Center Front Zipper
- The area of the Cargo Pockets mostly has four layers. We didn't really want this much Fabric, but we very much wanted Cargo Pockets, Handwarmer Pockets and Inner Pockets, and all this wool creates the brightest pink in the photo
Best wishes to our customers and everyone in South Korea (and elsewhere!) still fighting the virus. And MANY THANKS to our customer in South Korea for a really cool (hot!) photo!!
2022-04-06 ... Some humor from 2019
This Instagram post from @bushcrap101 is actually from 2019, but I just stumbled across it again. We felt they wouldn't have lampooned us unless we were pretty well known in the Bushcraft Community ... sort of a validation.
We got a good laugh over being lampooned by @bushcrap101 on Instagram
@bushcrap101 is a private account on Instagram, so you'll need their permission to see posts. And on March 28 of 2022, we did post Drew Gray's "ice-covered lake" test!
2022-04-05 ... Terrible ... and Terrific
A little bit ago a customer notified me that he had two Anoraks that had a problem with the Hood separated from the back of the Anorak. This is the only known problem with the Anorak, and we've been addressing it steadily while at the same time trying hard not to add more bulk to the hood-shoulders seams than necessary. The fail-rate is about 3%. And of course we will always, replace, reimburse, repair ... whatever the customer would like. But this was the first time I'd ever heard of a customer having TWO Anoraks that failed. I sent back an email as soon as I'd read the customer's note. And I phoned him a little later. Luckily for me, the customer was quite understanding and not upset at all. Still TERRIBLE, tho, that one customer had experienced two failures! This customer and his wife actually have three Anoraks. The TERRIFIC part is that the original email also said he wanted a fourth Anorak, which will be delivered tomorrow.
2022-04-04 ... Weathered Wool
In late 2020, or maybe even 2019, just out of curiosity I put a little pile of wool scraps under the trees in the backyard. I wanted to see what would happen over time. I thought animals would probably carry them off for nesting material. And that may have happened a little, but not much. The scraps were definitely moved around, but only a few feet (a meter) at most, and I am guessing that was from the wind. The surprising thing to me is that these scraps do not seem to have been affected at all by full exposure to the elements for at least 16 months, and two winters. I expected the colors to fade (not a lot of sun under the trees, tho, even in winter) and the Fabric to seem brittle or weak or rough. But it is indistinguishable from the tailor-remnants we use for Sample Packs. I am really surprised and admit this makes me happy!
This WeatherWool Fabric seems unaffected after at least 16 months outdoors, on the ground, fully exposed to the weather in Northern New Jersey.
I have just begun another experiment. I've read that when buried, wool will completely decompose within a few months ... we'll see!
2022-04-03 ... Wool and Fire
In winter, we burn close to two cords of wood a month. We keep the house pretty cool, at least by typical American standards, at about 57F/14C. But I crank up the fireplace in the office, where I spend a lot of time, so the temp is about 75F/24C and sometimes even 82F/28C. If the temp is below about 70F/21C my fingers slow down and I can't type well. How do musicians manage to play outdoors in cold weather? This time of year, with outdoor temps roughly the same as the usual setting on the thermostat, it's tempting for me to kill the central heat entirely, and just rely on the fireplace.
We burn wood in a large, open fireplace. It's nowhere near as efficient as a stove. BUT the fireplace makes a real fire part of the room ... accessible to us. We feed it a lot. And we can hear it, fiddle with it, and occasionally must deal with an ember that pops out.
People who come into the office like to sit in low chairs placed close to the fireplace, soaking up the warmth. But it's more than heat. People love and are enchanted by a fire. Even in hot summer. All over the world, and for thousands of years. If you want to provide a focal point for a gathering, start a fire.
And what I'm getting around to is ... watching people creep right up to my fires really drives home that wool and fire are very compatible. Recently, a reviewer posted video of himself standing with his feet nearly in a campfire, and his Anorak opened and spread out directly over the fire. He said the Anorak was capturing the rising heat and casting it onto his body. The way wool handles fire is a gigantic advantage sometimes. And the flip side ... the way some materials burn or melt very easily, can lead to horrors.
I need to do a video comparing the fire-behavior of wool, cotton, and some typical synthetics. But here are three professionally-made videos on the same subject:
- About three years ago I posted a link to an IMPRESSIVE video on YouTube showing how amazingly fast a single match can create a disaster if dropped on a synthetic couch ... and showing how a match (or even a blazing paper) dropped onto a woolen couch is a non-event. Many thanks to the government of New Zealand (in maybe the 1960s?) for this video.
- Thanks to the government of Great Britain for a similar video made in 2014, this one focused on bedding.
- A year or two earlier, the Brits produced another video along the same lines, but with more drama.
2022-04-02 ... WeatherWool On the Water
I've mentioned a couple of times lately that wool doesn't get out on the water as much as I think it should. Generations ago, sailors relied on wool to an amazing degree. Wool (and astounding fortitude and resourcefulness) enabled Shackleton and his team to survive near-impossible trials on their famous Antarctic expedition. One of the people who wears WeatherWool regularly on the water is Tug Captain Joel Milton, who also does a lot of photography. Joel works up and down America's East Coast, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Captains can't sleep the way most people do, so Joel has sent us some great photos taken at unusual hours. This morning, Joel sent Alex and I some commentary, and this beautiful shot:
Joel captured this image of "Gotham's Sixth Borough" (local mariner’s slang for New York Harbor) last night. Photo copyright © Joel Milton. Used with permission and THANKS!!Joel describes his work as "a hands-on conventional tug captain, constantly going from inside to outside and back for varying periods of time in all weather in variable climate zones (to observe, inspect, supervise, teach, etc. on both the tug and barge). The Anorak is the single most versatile, and therefore valuable, 3-season (fall-winter-spring) clothing item I have. On duty and off." He added "At some point soon I'll write up a proper, detailed gear review for the anorak." But this is pretty great just as it is! I think Joel actually has three of our Raks. THANK YOU for the kind words, Joel! And for choosing WeatherWool!
2022-04-01 ... No Joke!
Today may be April Fool's Day but what I am hearing from our Partners is extremely encouraging and no joke! The demand for MADE IN USA is booming. People are looking to make fabric and sew garments in America. Since our founding in 2009, WeatherWool has always been 100% USA in materials and labor.
2022-03-31 ... Kosher?
Not long ago we were contacted by a guy who wanted to know if our products are Kosher. This was a surprise question for sure, but we learned wool is Kosher unless it is mixed with linen. Another customer was focused on the frequency of wool. He said wool fiber vibrates at a frequency that is compatible with people. When we mentioned to him about the wool-linen Biblical prohibition, he said that made sense because their frequencies would cancel each other out. He also believes the frequency of synthetic clothing is not at all in harmony with the human body. I guess vibration frequencies are something to look into ...
2022-03-30 ... Just In Case Ordering
I was speaking with Rancher and Advisor Bob Padula a few days ago. Although Bob spends a great deal of time with his flock, he also works full-time-plus for a large company that builds modular homes. Part of Bob's job includes making sure components are on-hand when needed. Bob says supply chains now are so disrupted that he is ordering more than he needs, and months in advance. He said everyone is switching from Just-In-Time inventory to Just-In-Case ordering. And that is certainly what we have been doing. Some of our components normally have long lead times, so we are used to ordering well in advance. But now we have on-hand and on-order more than ever before. It takes a few months, at best, for us to make our Fabric. And once we have the Fabric, we may need to wait weeks before the tailors are ready for us. It would drive me right up the wall if, after all that, our production was held up because we didn't have buttons or thread. So ... we have a LOT of buttons and thread on hand. In fact, a couple of months ago, we bought all the Slot Buttons that US Button had available.
2022-03-29 ... Replace Shock Cords? (And More Video)
We use synthetic elastic shock cords to adjust the our hoods and waist cinches. Yesterday we were at Fleck Knitwear, working with Peter and Matt Fleck on custom knitted cuffs for our Hooded Jacket. Debby spent many days with her Dad in his factory, and she always loves to visit the people who make things for us and see how they do what they do. And she is always trying to figure out new things for them to do for WeatherWool. So when she saw some knitted "strings" hanging on Fleck's wall, she asked about them.
Peter explained these "strings" are small cylindrical knits, very much like shoestrings. Debby asked if the strings could be woven with our yarn, and if they might be used to replace the synthetic-elastic shock cords we've been using for years. So Matt and Peter immediately put some of our yarn on the machine ...
After we handled some of the string-knit, Peter and Matt showed us a little more of how the string-machine operates and what it can do:
Matt and Peter quickly made enough of the string-knit in our own yarn for us to do a little testing:
This is a very intriguing development. The string-knits have enough elasticity and strength to replace the shock cords. The string-knits are less bulky, and would lie flat against the garment instead of sticking out conspicuously (to me, anyway) like the shock cords. We will need to experiment and test for a while. But at this early stage it certainly looks really good. This was totally unexpected ... we were supposed to be working on cuffs. Debby's curiosity and imagination just might lead to a really nice enhancement!
2022-03-28 ... OK, Another Video!
Drew Gray, an Interior and Architectural Photographer from Minnesota, purchased an Anorak in mid-February. Yesterday he surprised us with a very thorough video review, which he has kindly given us permission to use. Drew is a family man, a gentleman and a real beast. In some of this footage, he pushes the MidWeight well beyond my design parameters. So this video comes with a "don't try this on your own" warning.
Huge Thanks to Drew for this video!!
Drew brought up a couple of points in the vid that I can address here. He mentioned the cuff adjustments don't hit the sweet spot for him. It is possible to flip the strip in the other direction for additional cuff sizes. Drew also mentioned that maybe the side zips could go all the way up the side ... a few inches longer than they are. We have considered this, and we may even do it. Our concern is that if a zipper fails, the side of the Rak may be left wide open. And the longer the zipper, the worse the failure. We have hears of only a handful of few zipper failures (which kind of amazes me), but that is our concern. If we had zips running the entire length of the sides, we'd probably add Slot Button backup, which could be uncomfortable when people lie on their sides.
We've used Drew's video in a few places ...
- the Performance Videos page on this website
- the Civilian Anorak Reviews page on this website
- Our YouTube Channel
- Our Facebook Page
- Our Rumble Channel
- We'll probably also use a little of it on Instagram and Facebook
So, again, BIG TIME THANKS to Drew for taking a shot with us (didn't mean that pun!) and for making and offering to us a great vid that must have taken a lot of time and effort, even for a pro!!
2022-03-27 ... Not Terrible!?
The experts all believe people are demanding more and more video. And video does convey information in ways the printed word cannot. So we will be working to put more and more video on the website.
Because we are on television, it seems like we should have a little video from those TV shows. So here is a (not terrible?!!) video I took off the TV screen with my phone:
The guy on screen is Alex Javor. We have a still shot of Alex among the carousel of photos on this website's Landing Page. Alex wrote me that his All-Around Jacket is the best garment he's ever had, and he gave me some review material that's posted on this website. The video is from an episode of National Geographic Television's Life Below Zero, Next Generation that is airing this week.
We will appear on other TV Shows before long, and I'll post about it when they begin to air.
We have never paid anyone to wear WeatherWool. Although clothing makers will sometimes pay big money for "influencers" to wear their products, we are worn only by people who choose us. Alex did get his WeatherWool free of charge. But he could have gotten any brand he wanted free of charge.
2022-03-26 ... Confusing Terminology!
It's really important to know how much Fabric is needed to make any given garment in each size. And of course everyone tries to reduce waste as much as possible. So it's a surprise to me that when the tailors tell me they have reduced the yield, it's good news. The tailoring is computer-aided now, and their systems know the shapes and dimensions of all the pieces of any given garment, in all the sizes. The software arranges all these pieces to minimize waste. In our case the software also understands that our Fabric has an "up and down" because our nap runs downward to help water flow off our garments. Great stuff and really important. But what's odd is that decreasing waste also decreases (in tailor jargon) yield. If we go from 2.6 yards to 2.5 yards to make a given garment, the tailors tell me the yield has gone down. I'm not aware of any other field where decreasing the yield is good news.
Another confusing bit of terminology is the way people usually quote the weight of woolen fabric. Unless the weight of something is specified along with the quantity, it doesn't mean anything. Woolen mills will normally refer to "22-ounce" or "26-ounce" fabric. But they are referring to "running yards", which are always 1 yard long but unspecified width. This terminology makes sense within a specific mill, where everyone knew the equipment. But in general practice, 22-ounce wool can actually be heavier than 26-ounce wool, if the 22-ounce wool is on a narrower bolt. Unless the fabric weight is stated as gsm (grams per square meter) or opsy (ounces per square yard), comparison is misleading. But also, weight is NOT an indicator of the performance of woolen fabric. Our goal is to reduce weight while increasing performance by using superior fiber, spinning, weaving and finishing.
2021-03-25 ... Like a BIG Company
A customer wrote wondered why we hadn't shipped his Anorak, given that I'd told him it would be shipped right away. Turns out we had two customer with the same name and the same order! That seems like the kind of problem that would only happen with a BIG company.
We had a similar incident years ago. I asked Alex to send something to Mike Cramer but Alex sent it to Mike Kramer. We didn't figure that one out until Cramer followed up months later. And it took some real head-scratching. I guess you could say we had a Kramer vs Cramer story of our own. (Kramer vs Kramer was a pretty big movie in 1980 or so.)
In about 1983 I was going over some software designs at Bell Labs. The guy who was running the project was going to great lengths to make sure the software could handle situations that I thought were just crazy-unlikely. He told me his software needed to handle anything short of fire or flood. Big companies safeguard against even very unlikely events. In our case, I checked off both orders from the like-named customers without comparing the email addresses and phone numbers. My mistake!
2021-03-24 ... Spamming Getting Worse
For a while it seemed like the spammers, at least the telephone spammers, were easing up. But it's worse than ever now, with more kinds of spam than ever ...
- Phone Call Spam: I try to always answer phone calls, but I do have a spam warning set, so I can decline calls flagged as spam. I get a couple of these per hour during the day. At least they don't call all through the night
- Voice-Mail Spam: Spammers use SlyDial (ShyDial), an app that lets them bypass the actual phone call and go directly to voice-mail. My voice-mail got so bad with spammers I haven't listened to a message in years. The rare caller that gets my recorded message is asked to phone again later or send a text (973-943-3110)
- Text-Message Spam: This is a more-recent trend among the spammers. Probably a dozen or so of these daily
- Email Spam: Dozens of these every day. Haven't been hearing much from the "Nigerian Ambassadors". The main spammers now are people claiming various kinds of expertise ... they can boost our search rankings, make our website much more attractive, triple our "conversion rate" (the rate at which website visitors place orders) ... We get a lot of people telling us they are wizards at advertising and pay-per-click strategies (we don't advertise at all). Almost all these spammers are writing from gmail, yahoo and outlook accounts. Nothing shouts "credibility" like someone claiming technical expertise and using a free email account
- Contact Form Spam: Our Contact Form supports an option that requires people to prove they are human by clicking a NOT-A-ROBOT button or maybe identifying all the photos that show a car. But I disabled that test for the convenience of our customers. So now we get 10 or 20 spam contact forms per day.
All this spamming must be achieving something positive for the spammers, because they surely seem committed to the strategy.
We really really REALLY don't ever want to be seen as spammers, so we send only a few emails a year. Less than one blast-mail per month.
A couple of days ago, I sent text messages to the many people who had Anoraks on backorder. (Most backorders are frivolous. I don't know why they bother.) I had already emailed this group of people, and didn't want to delete their orders without being sure they knew the garment they were supposedly waiting for is available. One of the recipients of my text replied STOP. I wonder if he also flagged me as a spammer.
2021-03-22 ... Fishing (Again) ... and Big Camo
Advisor Bill McConnell was wearing our CPO Shirt in Lynx Pattern when he recently caught a beautiful rainbow trout. Bill posted this photo to his Instagram account the day after I wrote here that I'd like to see more people fishing in wool.
Bill has been an outdoors professional for decades, working with the Military, television and feature-film production, and running his own Primitive Skills school. He is a great flintknapper and on my desk I keep an arrowhead he made for me. Bill is under contract with a large camo-clothing company, but they said it's OK if he appears in WeatherWool because we do not make camo. One of the other large camo companies said the same thing to another of our contacts. This might mean that Lynx Pattern is officially "camo-camo" ... But it might also mean that the big players don't want to step on us. Either way, we appreciate it because they could certainly have prohibited their representatives from appearing in WeatherWool.
2021-03-21 ... Shipping!
Since we picked up the MidWeight Lynx Pattern Anoraks at Factory8 2 days ago, we've been really busy shipping. Yesterday, I sat down at my desk early, and it was nice to see the Forsythia bushes across the street seemed to be showing just a little hint of yellow. Here in North Jersey, Forsythias are the first spectacular flower show of spring. But I was kind of shocked to actually watch the yellow become more pronounced through the day. First time I ever watched a plant grow.
Zabz (Alex's daughter) is a hard worker and loves to help however she can. When the UPS truck backs into the driveway, there are lots of packages going out. As soon as Zabz saw Alex and I ferrying packages to the porch, she pitched in without being asked. Zabz can carry two Anorak-boxes at once!
2022-03-20 again ... WarriorWool Purchase Limit Removed
It's a giant kick to me that some Military people have wanted to buy for themselves more than one WarriorWool Anorak. These are the same Anoraks offered to the entire world, but WarriorWool is priced at break-even for those purchasing with personal funds Anoraks to be worn for Active Duty in service of the USA and our Allies. Now that we have our production rolling again, I'm really happy to be able to remove the one-per-person limit. Anyone can donate as many Anoraks as they'd like -- there's never been a limit on that -- and there is a separate page that shows WarriorWool Donations. I've also noted on that page some instances where people purchased for themselves. It's on my mind now because we filled a bunch of such backorders today.
2022-03-20 ... Salmon
Wool doesn't get out on the water as much as I think it should. My guess is this is another situation where most people don't know how well serious wool performs. So I do love it when we hear from anglers. These (delicious!!) California Salmon were taken only an hour North of the Golden Gate Bridge.
2022-03-19 ... Garment District Drop-off and Pickup!
First thing this morning, I made a run to Factory8 in Manhattan's Garment District to drop off Fabric and notions (zippers, cord, cord locks, etc.) to make Hooded Jackets and to pick up MidWeight Lynx Pattern Anoraks. And now we are shipping the Raks!
2022-03-18 ..."Rustique, Increvable" (Indestructible Rustic)
This is from an Instagram "story" posted by @BenoitWo ...
We have never described ourselves as RUSTIC or INDESTRUCTIBLE, but we are not complaining and we definitely THANK Benoit Wojtenka!
2022-03-17 ... Pennsylvania State Troopers ... St Patrick's Day
We love that our wool is appreciated by a Pennsylvania State Trooper! And actually we have four Advisors who are Law Enforcement Officers.
Today we were surprised and honored to receive Patches and a Challenge Coin from a Pennsylvania State Trooper!
We can really use the LE connection, too, because Zabz is convinced leprechauns are snooping around WeatherWool HQ. She is finding tracks all over the house and really wants to figure out exactly what is going on!
Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!!
2022-03-16 ... MidWeight Lynx Pattern Anoraks to ship March 19th
Factory8 is doing final Quality Control checks on MidWeight Lynx Pattern Anoraks. I will pick them up in New York City's Garment District on Saturday the 19th and we will begin shipping Saturday afternoon, as soon as we complete our own QC. If we do not already have your SHIP ASAP order, please place a "live order" now. Website will accept payment. Thank You!
Rows and rows of Anoraks! Photos courtesy Factory8
2022-03-15 ... More about Fleece
This post continues a topic started on the Blog of the 12th.
We operate out of New Jersey, but Americans raise sheep in all 50 States. We would be happy to work with local ranchers, but ranchers in the Eastern States tend to have smaller flocks and focus on the fiber-arts market, selling their "clips" in small quantities to many individual buyers. We need relatively large quantities of wool having very specific qualities, which requires careful sampling of the wool followed by detailed lab testing. Ranchers with smaller flocks are not as geared toward this approach as are the Western States ranchers where some very large flocks are located. But we'll see what we can turn up.
Also, the economic and political situation in the world now is a huge concern, and really must be factored into any decisions we make. It seems to me that our customers have suddenly become much more cautious.
On the lighter side, our sugar-season (maple syrup season) in North Jersey ended a few days ago ... meaning the sap stopped running. A little early, but with no freezing nights in the 10-day forecast I decided to pull our taps. We have only 9 taps on our little suburban "sugar bush", so it's not a big chore. But this was the first time I pulled the taps at 3:30AM. I was wide awake and the full moon gave me plenty of light. Something special! We usually get between 1 and 1.5 gallons (around 5 liters) and that's plenty. For us, sugaring is mostly a way to watch Winter turn to Spring, and I love that.
2022-03-14 ... More info from Padula
Following on the posts from the last two days ... Rancher Padula told me this pictured fleece is from one of his new rams. Bob never stops working to improve his flock's genetics, and we are lucky WeatherWool's future needs are among his priorities. The fleece from this ram weighed over 20 pounds (over 9 kg), and Bob planning/hoping to use this ram for the fineness of his fleece ... and that he will be the start of a line that WeatherWool can use for manufacture of base layers.
Base layers have long been on my mind because the base layer is so important and because the base layer influences the way people perceive our outerwear.
For us, there are two problems with making base layers. First, base layers need to be somewhat elastic, which means they are knitted. We don't do much in the way of knits, and base layers would be very different from the knitting we do. But also, we accept returns for any reason, even months after receipt. I don't know how we could make this return policy work with base layers, and I don't want to have a different return policy based on the product.
2022-03-13 ... REAL FLEECE COMES FROM SHEEP!!!
The people selling synthetic petrochemical fabrics and clothing have done so much advertising and pushed so deep into media that some people think that the petrochemical polymer fluff the manufacturers call 'fleece' really is FLEECE! The gorgeous, pasture-grown, natural product pictured below is REAL FLEECE, from yesterday's shearing at PM Ranch in Minnesota (see previous Blog).
REAL FLEECE is grown by SHEEP!
(and NOT manufactured in a chemical plant!)
2022-03-12 ... Shearing Begins at PM Ranch
Advisor Bob Padula tells me he is shearing at his family's PM Ranch in Minnesota! We will probably be buying PM's entire clip. Even though we need to await the results of actual lab tests, the lab mostly confirms what the Ranchers usually predict with great accuracy from knowledge of their flock, the conditions of the previous year and the way the fleece feels in their hands.
2022-03-11 ... NGLBZNG ... Crazy Cold MidWeight Anorak
We really like it when people tell us they saw WeatherWool somewhere. Today we got a note from a customer telling us he saw our All-Around Jacket on National Geographic's Life Below Zero Next Generation last night. We've been on the show for a couple of winters now, but I had lost track of the airings because the virus caused the footage to be shown out of sequence. So we'll need to watch what Alex Javor has been up to! Alex is currently shown on one of this website's Landing Pages, and he gave me an extremely strong review to publish, which I have linked above. Alex deals with some frightful conditions. It is a little bit funny though because now he is a TV personality with a production crew, so his situation isn't as dangerous as when he was doing the same things in the same extremely cold winter, but completely alone, living far from other people.
Speaking of brutal weather, I got another note today from a customer in Minnesota. He said he's been testing his new MidWeight Anorak and has been out for hours in -15F/-26C (including windchill). I've gotten reports from this gent before, and he usually wears two base layers, but three wool base layers in this case. He said when the wind kicked up to 20mph/32kph he felt a chill. But the Anorak, particularly the MidWeight Anorak, was designed for much more moderate temps with one or maybe two light base layers. So it's nice to hear from people who push it. He also has a FullWeight 'Rak, but wanted to see what the MidWeight could do. I'm going to add this info to the FullWeight-MidWeight page, but I'm not so sure it's a good idea because few people are as cold-tolerant as today's correspondent.
2022-03-10 ... Semi-Open House
This Sunday will be the last Open House of the season. For this Open House we are asking anyone who wants to come to please let us know in advance. Usually, we don't request any advance notice on Open House days. And you are still welcome to make an appointment to visit almost any time/day that is convenient for you. The monthly Open House Days will resume Sunday, August 28th.
2022-03-09 ... Outage Damage
Although our power was restored after about 12 hours, some of our electronics were damaged and we're a little behind processing orders and responding to emails. We need to replace some hardware. We should be back to normal within a few days. Thanks/Sorry -- Ralph
2022-03-08 ... Power Out
We lost electric power about 10:00 p.m. Monday night and Public Service tells us we'll be without power until about 7:00 p.m. tonight. So we may not be shipping today. Thank you.
HAHA ... Power was restored about 10AM ... the moment I ran a line from my neighbor's house! An occasional loss of electric power really gives some perspective on how important it is!!
2022-03-07 ... Hooded Jacket Sample Approved
Today we pretty-well approved the Sample of the new Hooded Jacket. Only minimal changes from previously. We made the Hood bigger, with adjustments similar to the Anorak. We are adding longer cuffs, with a thumb-hole ("Monkey-Paw" in US Army lingo). And the inside pockets will be made from our own Fabric, rather than the mil-spec wool-poly blend we had used previously. We use the blended fabric solely to reduce bulk, but I decided in this case -- MidWeight Hooded Jacket -- we can use nothing but our Fabric. I'm not sure we'll be able to do that later this year when we make FullWeight Hooded Jackets. The present run of Hooded Jackets will be MidWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric only, because that's the only Fabric we have on hand now. There is a lot of Fabric in the works, tho!
Also yesterday, another customer returned his MidWeight Anorak because he felt his All-Around Jacket was just as comfortable as the MidWeight Rak in warm weather.
We strive for versatility in our Fabrics and garments, and we try to make every garment significantly different from the others, avoiding "overlap". And so these two returns, expressing somewhat opposite viewpoints, surprised me ... but only a little, because we've heard the same things previously.
2022-03-05 ... Samples!
Been out of the office for a couple of days during which our tailors delivered Samples of the Hooded Jacket and CPO Shirt. This brings us a bunch closer to putting these items into production! We have only MidWeight Fabric on hand now, but it's a start ... We'll make these pieces in FullWeight also, but the next run of FullWeight Fabric is still three months or so away.
2022-03-02 (Again) ... Mark In the Wild Podcast
Mark Greene bought some wool from us in 2018, and in 2022 he began his Mark In the Wild Podcasts. WeatherWool is the subject of his fourth podcast, released today. THANKS MARK!
2022-03-02 ... New Advisor
We are delighted to welcome Noah Neigh as our newest Advisor. Noah is a Law Enforcement Officer in Pennsylvania, as well as an all-around outdoors lover, runner and triathlete. Noah will give us feedback on our wool in the course of his LE work, and will also help us develop the Runner, which I am looking forward to putting into production. Great to have you, Noah!!
Also, I have just updated the Advisor News page with some really nice items!
2022-02-28 ... Mail List
A few hours ago I added a Mail List Signup widget to our Home Page. Probably should have done this a long time ago. But at this point 2022 looks like it will be our most productive year yet (I admit to choking a little as I write that), so sending out an update every couple of weeks seems like a good idea.
The first person to sign up is from Barrow, Alaska, which is pretty great. Barrow is "serious Alaska", as far North as you can go on the North American mainland.
2022-02-27 ... MidWeight Boonie Hats
Our Boonie Hats have been made only in FullWeight Fabric, but we've been thinking about offering MidWeight Boonie Hats and I just put them on the menu.
I'm tempted to say we'll also make MidWeight Big Brim Boonie Hats, but I'm concerned the brim will not have enough stiffness in MidWeight Fabric. I will say we'll give it a try ...
2022-02-26 ... Camo-Camo, according to Big-Camo
Over the years we have worked with people who have exclusive contracts with major camouflage companies. Interestingly, the Big-Camo people do not see WeatherWool as camo, and have told our contacts it is therefore OK to work with us. Of course, we have always thought of our Lynx Pattern as "camo-camo", meaning most people will not even realize a major part of the design of Lynx Pattern IS to function as highly versatile camo.
But large companies have been so nice to us that I can't help but wonder if the Big-Camo guys took the stance they did at least partly because they don't want to stomp a startup.
2022-02-25 ... Import Yeti
Denali found an interesting website, ImportYeti.com, that lets anyone look up a company and see what it imports.The site was created by David Applegate (THANK YOU!), and here is how he describes it:
ImportYeti is the combination of some downtime created by the Corona Virus and my desire to give back to the eCom community that has given me so much.
Bill of ladings are public information that every large eCom owner or FBA seller I know uses but they are too cost prohibitive, challenging to obtain and difficult to use for the average joe. ImportYeti's goal is to solve that problem.
There is a lot of information and a lot of detail available at ImportYeti. A search for WeatherWool turns up nothing. Some of the big makers of outdoors-oriented apparel are also big importers.
I checked one American company that offers wool base layers. This company states on their own website that their products are all made in China, but ImportYeti has no info on their imports. It may be that they import under different names. Or maybe something else is going on. There is a crazy amount of import data and this site is new.
2022-02-23 ... WarriorWool for US Law Enforcement
We now offer WarriorWool to US Law Enforcement Officers.
We just sent a WarriorWool Donation to a pilot who services the Antarctic Research Stations. Some interesting info at today's entry on the WarriorWool Donations Page.
2022-02-21 ... Unboxing
THANKS to Beni from Switzerland for posting to Instagram a photo of his "unboxing". I don't know if this is a new "thing" or not, but people who analyze e-commerce all stress that the "unboxing experience" is very important. Here at WeatherWool, I'm regarded as terrible at everything to do with boxing: properly folding garments; wrapping them nicely in heavy brown protective paper; choosing the right-sized box; taping the box neatly and securely; and most importantly, doing a final (usually third) Quality-Control inspection.
And so everyone is fine with me being generally forbidden to do any boxing. But on the rare occasions when I do some packing, I include a note of apology and explanation, which has been a source of amusement.
Beni's Instagram post was a "story", which I think means it disappears in a day. But Denali captured it:
I definitely did not handle Beni's package. Here's hoping Beni's Anorak works for him long-term!
2022-02-20 ... First Review On Website
I'm relieved to see that the "review widget" (yesterday's Blog) seems to function properly. Shopify HELP pages made it very easy to add "Product Review" functionality, but I didn't want to put up a dummy review myself in order to test. The first customer-review was posted in the last few hours and so far, so good!
I get emails, text messages and phone calls every day from customers (THANK YOU ALL FOR THESE!!!), and I suggested to two or three of the people who have contacted me in the last 24 hours that it would be great if they put up a review. And the first review did come from one of those people. And although the review contains the same info he gave me directly, I feel like I cheated a little by encouraging the review (but not the content). BIG THANKS to MG for choosing WeatherWool, for posting the All-Around Jacket review and for testing/proofing the new website feature!
2022-02-19 ... Customer Product Reviews
I just added, I hope, a widget to our website to enable people to post their own reviews at the bottom of our product pages. Reviews can be added to any of our products. Will have to wait and see if this works!
2022-02-15 (again) ... Shipping
MidWeight Drab Anoraks are on hand. Now we need to double-check all the counts and inspect all the garments and ship them out!
2022-02-15 ... GOOGLE PAY
Today, a customer was having a problem when trying to enter payment on our website. So I went through the customer experience of putting things in the shopping cart and going to the checkout. I should do this more often. I was surprised to see a GOOGLE PAY button. I don't know how long that has been there or what is involved. One of our customers told us he absolutely loves using PayPal. So maybe there are people who really want Google Pay. If nobody tells me Google Pay is important, I will probably get rid of that button. The add-on processors impose additional fees. And of course the additional fee, 1% or so above what the credit card/banks already levy, applies to the entire transaction, so it is a significant hit.
Things like the Google Pay button can appear on our website without me being aware because our website sits on the Shopify platform, which hosts over a million web-stores. Shopify probably notified us, and I either forgot or didn't read the message or perhaps, because Debby is the store owner, the message was not sent to me. It could also be the "Terms of Service Agreement" permits them to add the Google Pay button without notice. It was actually Debby who got us started on Shopify, and she is the primary contact. And now that I'm writing about Shopify, I realize I should long ago have put up a Shopify page on this website because a number of people have wanted to speak with me about using Shopify themselves. So the page linked above is my 1-minute start on a Shopify page.
2022-02-14 ... Shipping MidWeight Drab Anoraks
Plenty of MidWeight Drab Anoraks will be headed off to customers today. THANKS ALL for your patience! We hope you love them but if there are any issues, my direct contact info is just above.
The Sheep People are happy -- except maybe for the ones from Ohio -- because the Rams won the big game.
Happy Valentine's Day to all!!
2022-02-13 ... Wasted Clothing
Here in North Jersey, there are many bins where people deposit unwanted clothing. Alex found a very interesting very not-good YouTube video on what happens to clothing that is donated. I didn't notice any mention of wool. And one great thing about wool is that it is an animal product and therefore completely biodegradable. Thanks to BUSINESS INSIDER for the video!
2022-02-12 ... Pickup MidWeight Drab Anoraks
Saturday morning in Manhattan has about 90% less traffic than a weekday, so I can get into the Garment District in Midtown and pull up right in front of Factory8. Loading is a snap! We'll be spending the next few days inspecting and shipping MidWeight Drab Anoraks.
One thing that's interesting about Saturdays is that the city will help the construction projects by closing lanes on the Avenues and even entire Streets so cranes can be operated. This morning, 37st Street just west of Factory8 was closed. I always like watching the cranes! The amount of building going on in NYC is amazing. Cranes everywhere!
Mostly, I'm a Midtown and Downtown guy. But with the trailer, I need to cross the Hudson River via the George Washington Bridge, which is very much Uptown, and it's nice cruising parts of NYC I haven't visited regularly since high school. One of these days I've got to spend some time at the old graveyards on Broadway. It's been decades since I walked (or jogged) across the GWBridge, and I need to do that again. It's impressive in a motor vehicle but much more so on foot.
2022-02-11 ... Second Post Today. Not Wool-Related (Sorry!)
I already posted today but I thought maybe I should post again, regarding "The Big Game", the Super Bowl, which I mentioned here yesterday. Way back in the 1950s and '60s, when my folks taught me manners that I didn't learn well enough, it was common knowledge that religion or politics were spoken of only with your closest friends and family. WeatherWool is an activity we carry on with the general public, worldwide, so politics and religion really don't belong on our website in my opinion, although anyone who wants to know how I think needs only ask. Some of the people I like best will put their politics and religion front-and-center, even with their businesses, and I am surely OK with that, for them.
Mom and Dad also taught that sports and weather were appropriate topics for small-talk. Well, times have changed and now sports and weather are both quite political.
I hear from a lot of people who quit watching NFL (the National Football League presents extremely popular American/Canadian style football that is very big in the USA) because of the politics. I understand that, and for a couple of years I was one of them. But I grew up playing football and basketball pretty-much year-round, and baseball or stickball almost half the year. I dearly love these sports. I don't understand why American sports leagues honor some of the ideas and some of the people they do. But I'll ignore what I must and still enjoy the sports as much as I can.
2022-02-11 ... Hooded Jacket and Raks and Fabric
We are hoping to start a run of Hooded Jackets in MidWeight Lynx Fabric soon, but not quite ready yet. This is the only Fabric we have on hand, and although we are getting going on FullWeight Fabric, that will take a few months.
First thing tomorrow morning we will be at Factory8 in Manhattan's Garment District to pick up MidWeight Drab Anoraks. Both Lincoln and Holland Tunnels prohibit trailers, so I will need to loop North to take the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson River into NYC. It will be nice to drive 15 miles on Broadway.
2022-02-10 ... Super Bowl
We were talking about the Big Game on Sunday and it so happens we have an Open House scheduled for the same day. I mentioned I'm not really pulling for either team and I think it was Alex who said we need to root for Los Angeles because we are sheep-people. OK. GO RAMS!!
2022-02-09 ... YouTube Review
Yesterday we received a wonderful note and a great YouTube review from "P", who teaches US Military Personnel how to handle cold weather. P had long been an ardent advocate for synthetics, and he tells a funny story about how he came to test a WeatherWool Anorak.
2022-02-08 ... Samples Again ... Sugar Season
I'm really happy to be shipping Fabric Samples again. We ran out a week or so ago but Denali has put together another 200 or so Sample Packs. This latest batch of Samples also has a card with a Slot Button Assembly. Slots are not familiar to most people, and are an important feature of our garments. So we decided the Fabric Sample Pack should include a Slot Button mounted on a bit of Anchor Ribbon (Blog of 2022-02-04).
Also, today is the first day that really felt like Spring is coming. Usually, I start our Maple Sugar Season in January, but this year we didn't have the weather for it. So, we tap our Maples today. If, as usual, Sugar Season ends here in North Jersey in mid-March, this will be our shortest season ever. We will see!
2022-02-06 ... Water Beads Up, Sits There
A couple of weeks ago I was meeting with Giuseppe Monteleone, Plant Manager at American Woolen Company. AWC takes the lead in turning our clean fiber into Fabric. Giuseppe had just received samples from a company offering DWR -- Durable Water Repellent -- Finish. Giuseppe poured some water onto the DWR-treated fabric, and it beaded up real nice. And you could roll it around on the fabric, kind of like mercury. Nice stuff.
I took off my Lynx-Pattern All-Around Jacket, put it on Giuseppe's desk, and we poured a little water on the AAJ. The water beaded up and rolled around, just like we had seen on the treated synthetic sample from the vendor. We also poured some water on an old sample of our Duff Fabric that Giuseppe had handy. Same result.
Giuseppe and I were happy to see this behavior, and continued our meeting. Twenty or thirty minutes later, we looked at the samples again. The DWR and the old Duff had soaked through a little bit, but the new Lynx Fabric still looked as if we'd just poured the water.
Wool naturally repels liquid water, I think the ability of the Lynx to withstand the water longer than the DWR or the older Duff Fabric lies in the napping. Napping is a physical process, somewhat like brushing, that makes the surface of the Fabric fuzzy. We use a directional nap to help conduct water downward off our garments. Over time, the nap lies down, and this may have been why the Duff didn't perform as well as the Lynx. It may also be that the Duff simply hadn't been napped as much as the Lynx. We are always experimenting.
Other places on this website have more information about how wool handles water.
2022-02-05 ... A Poem and a Great Idea!
We love when customers give us ideas! And we are grateful for all of them. We carefully consider every single one. Mostly, the idea is not new, and we have already considered it. But we have never gotten a poem as a tease, and THEN the idea! And a great idea, at that! Today, Jim MacDougall in Ontario sent a poem via Instagram Direct Message:
Imagine there’s no membrane (nylon),
It’s easy if you try,
No down or feathers,
You may wonder why?
Imagine all the people
Staying warm and dry
Ooooh hooo oooo oooo oooo
You may say that I’m a dreamer
Mmm mmm mmm
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll build one
And the outdoors world can live as one.
I guess Jim is something of a Lennon fan, and that John would be happy to have helped inspire imaginings of all kinds.
And then the tease: "When you respond I’ll tell you what might be a great idea.”
Jim obviously has a flair for advertising, or promotions, or public relations. I responded right away.
“The WeatherWool Wool Puffy Vest, raw wool baffled, in place of down, medium wool lining, medium wool outer. The collar a combination of the two coming together. Two layers of wool protection with raw wool for insulation … unparalleled warmth and protection with a relative lightness and unhindered maneuverability”
This is very, VERY interesting!! A lot to think about here. Right off, tho, this is one of the "Well, DUH!" moments ... meaning, now that someone has pointed it out, this seems like such an obvious thing to do. And usually that means it's a really good idea! What I can say now for sure is that we will see where this leads! We owe you, Mr Jim!!
Holy Smokes! ... There is a PS here, or, really, an "Ante Script". Debby tells me Alex offered this same idea a year or two ago, but I don't remember at all and can't find any notes. Maybe because then we didn't have any Fabric to work with, and remnants weren't on my mind either. But in any case ... Alex ... I'm sorry I forgot and didn't give your idea the attention it deserves. That will change!
2022-02-04 ... Sample Packs in Progress, with an Update
We're happy to receive a few requests for Sample Packs each day. Putting the packs together takes a great deal of time. We ran out of Sample Packs a couple of days ago and we'll need several more days to complete the next batch. Sorry for the delay.
We (really just me) have decided to add a Slot Button to the Sample Packs. We have not decided the best way to do this, and I'm sure whatever we settle on for this batch will change. Right now I am thinking to thread a Slot Button onto the anchor ribbon, and staple the ribbon and some of our specialized Thread onto a card that describes the components. We have not yet created the card or written the descriptive text, but I think it will look like this:
Any ideas very welcome! --- Ralph (& Denali with some misgivings)
"A bit chilly at 5AM. I get to do morning chores. Part of the morning chores is making sure no sheep are frozen down on the snow/ice or stuck on a metal hay feeder."
"Good thing we have WeatherWool. At 40 below windchill (both Celsius and Fahrenheit) we tend to dress in layers and cover up - no one runs around naked in this weather up here. Serious 'shrinkage' weather (for Seinfeld fans)." ...
Bob has previously explained to me that if a sheep lies down and melts snow or ice with body heat, it is possible that a drop in temperature can "freeze the sheep to the ground". And if anyone is wondering whether folks run around naked in summer in central Minnesota, Debby and I visited PM Ranch in July 2011. The locals were fully clothed, even tho temperatures were well over 100F/38C.
2022-02-02 ... (Or should that be 2-2-22!) ... Remnants
We sent out about 10 bags of Remnants (Blog of Jan 30), which was what I was hoping for. I decided there is enough interest to make the Remnants a standard offering. If people find uses for remnants, that's great!
There are always buyers for fabric scraps of any kind. And we could certainly sell our remnants. Old woolens and woolen remnants have been combined into new garments for hundreds of years. Re-used wool became widespread in London about 200 years ago. Garments made from recycled wool were known as shoddy, and although few people know the origin, everyone knows shoddy means second-rate. It surprises me that some well-known companies are touting making garments from recycled wool. I would guess today's shoddy is still wildly preferable to the clothing made from re-cycled plastic soda bottles. I have handled -- but not worn -- modern shoddy. It was not appealing. As for the recycled-soda-bottle-clothing, I have not examined it at all.
2022-02-01 ... It's a GO!
Our production chain looks to be intact again!
On Thursday, September 2nd, our production chain was broken when Hurricane Ida destroyed Littlewood Dye House on Main Street, Philadelphia. Littlewood was the only dye house in the USA that was dyeing wool fiber. (Amazing and distressing American production capacity has fallen so far!) There are other ways to dye wool, but dyeing the wool as fiber -- "stock dyeing" -- prior to spinning and weaving, gives the best results. Tintoria Piana, a dye house in Georgia, has a great deal of experience with stock dyeing, but until now, Tintoria did not work with wool. Giuseppe Monteleone, Plant Manager at American Woolen Company, which takes the lead in turning our fiber into Fabric, has been working with Tintoria since shortly after Ida. I knew Giuseppe was getting pretty comfortable with Tintoria, but I was still surprised when I learned early today that Giuseppe has decided we are ready to roll with Tintoria! Not sure of the timing, but this is great news!! We have a lot of fiber ready to be dyed!!
2022-01-31 ... Import Prices Rising Faster
Debby bought some more Slot Buttons this morning. She was working with Russell Breiter of US Buttons (Emsig). Russell aka "The Button King", works out of US Button's Manhattan/Garment District offices, where they handle a huge range of buttons sourced from many places as well as buttons of their own manufacture. We buy only American-made components, and the Slot Buttons we get from Russell are made by US Button in Connecticut. Russell told Debby that pricing will be a steeper next time, and that prices of everything are going up. The one bit of good news, I suppose, is that Russell said the prices of imported items are rising much faster than US-made. So, I guess that is a cloud with a silver lining.
2022-01-30 ... Wool Pillow, Anyone?
A few months ago, I stuffed a pillow case with Fabric remnants from our tailors. I think it's a great pillow, but Debby disagrees completely. If you'd like to try this yourself, let me know and I'll send some remnants to the first bunch who request them. Please, I would like to know your thoughts after you try the pillow. We have a lot of remnants and we'd love to find some uses for them!
2022-01-28 ... "Granpa can really talk!!"
That was Zabz whispering to Debby while I was on the phone with a customer. Zabz (Isabelle) is almost 6, and she is here every day after kindergarten, which means she hears me on the phone every day.
I try to provide the phone call the customer wants ... some people have a series of questions they want answered, and they want to get off the phone as soon as possible. But sometimes the answers lead in all sorts of directions, and that's fine with me. Other callers seem more interested in getting a sense of the character of the people they are considering dealing with. Some people are really interested in the details of what we are doing, or wondering why we are doing it.
People with backorders will frequently call for an ETA, and that often leads to discussions that are much bigger-picture than making woolens. Those talks can go on for a long time.
Some calls last under a minute, and some over an hour. A lot of times, a call is interrupted by another incoming call, and that often "breaks the spell". When I ask the first caller if he (90% male callers) can hold for a minute, he'll decide it's time to get back to work. It reminds me of how a few neighbors might stand in the cold, talking in front of someone's house. This can go on a long time, but if somebody says "Let's go inside and sit down", it breaks the spell and suddenly everybody goes home.
People can tell pretty easily from our website that we are a tiny family company still struggling for survival. We make no attempt to hide that. Or, for that matter, we don't want to hide anything. So when people want to talk, I'm usually up for it. Particularly if they catch me on the road.
All the calls are good by me. The phone, the website and all forms of customer contact are primarily my responsibility and are easily a full-time job.
Now is probably a good time to confess that I mostly don't remember the details of phone calls. The only thing I'm good at remembering is the stories people tell me. But usually I will forget who told me the story. I suppose another 5 or 10 years down the road I will start telling other people's stories, believing they are my own. But I don't think I've gotten to that point yet.
Hope to speak with you one of these day!
PS -- A couple of hours after I wrote the above, I got a call from Sam in BC. The weatherfolk are predicting a serious blizzard for NYC, and so I toted a massive amount of wood into the house while I spoke with Sam. The phone call was a perfect diversion from the thoughtless task of carrying firewood. Sam was walking his dog and I'm pretty sure he didn't mind I was also getting something else done.
2022-01-26 ... TOP Approved
Today we approved the MidWeight Lynx Anorak TOP (Top Of Production). The TOP is the first Anorak sewn together after all the cutting is done. If we needed to change anything about the way the Anorak was put together, this would be our last chance. But we were very happy with the TOP, and very happy with the Fabric, too. We'd seen the MidWeight Lynx before, but somehow the Fabric always seems different when made into an actual garment. Here's a quick-pic from the backyard:
We expect to ship the MidWeight Lynx Raks at the end of March and the MidWeight Drab Raks in February.
2022-01-25 ... Bronze Slot Buttons!
Mose O'Griffin sent us some more Sample Custom Slot Buttons yesterday! THANK YOU!!
First of all ... I somehow spaced-out on the material ... Mose at APROE has been working on Bronze Slot Buttons all along, but somehow I confused this with brass. Both Bronze and Brass are alloys of copper. Bronze has Tin and Brass has Zinc. Both alloys can also have some other things mixed in. And not to imply that I know anything about this ... I just looked it up.
APROE has designed and produced the first handful of Bronze Slots, but actual production will be handled by Dutch Ressler and the team at Dutchware Gear. We will apply a darker finish for the final versions.
I will say that I am happy to find out that the buttons are bronze because, at least in terms of sculpture, bronze can be very, very beautiful. When I worked at Telerate Systems in the now-destroyed World Trade Center in NYC, the 105th Floor lobby of Cantor, Fitzgerald, with whom we shared office space, featured an original Rodin's The Thinker ... a very dramatic, impressive, beautiful piece.
If The Thinker reminds you of Dobie Gillis, you've got some miles behind you! Sadly, Dwayne Hickman, who played Dobie, passed away on the 9th of this month, aged 87. As for the statue at my old workplace, it somehow survived the 9/11 atrocity but disappeared afterward.
2022-01-24 ... Thanks for Dinner!
Today, a visiting customer tried on an item from the Lending Library and found $35 in the pocket! Oddly, this item wasn't tagged or listed on the website. An XLarge Duff Anorak. I did a quick search through our records but couldn't see who might have sent us this piece. Our customers being the wonderful folks they are, I would not be surprised if someone deliberately left the cash in the pocket knowing the Lending Library is a little bit of a loser for us. If that's the case, MANY THANKS and sorry for losing track! If it's your $35 and you want it back, please give me a call! If I don't hear from anyone, which I am guessing will be the case, Debby and I will thank our lucky stars for a free dinner. And I now realize Jimmie, the customer who found the cash, is entitled to a nice big sub sandwich, too! I know really large businesses eventually need to account for money that people have lost or left behind, but did not expect that situation to come up for us!!
2022-01-23 ... Testing Greasy Wool in 2022
We are in the early planning stages of our 2022 Greasy (Raw) Wool purchase. We had thought the new lab in the USA would be ready to perform the testing for this year, but now I am hearing we will need to rely on testing services in New Zealand one more year.
2022-01-22 ... On the Road Yesterday
Yesterday I was on the road by about 5AM, headed up to American Woolen to pick up some MidWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric. So long as I get through NYC by 6AM or so, that's the way to go ... shortest and fastest. Owner Jacob Long helped me load the trailer in temp of 8F/-13C, so we worked double-time. Then I went inside and we had some great meetings, which I will say more about soon. BUT I lingered a little too long, particularly given that it was a Friday, and by the time I got back into the New York City area, even though I detoured around the city, the traffic was still the usual metro-rush-hour mess. The upshot was that I didn't do much else yesterday besides some phone calls and a few mails, and now I'm about 150 mails behind. Plus some more phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages and Instagram messages. Hoping to dig out somewhat today, but this is also Debby and my Anniversary, and Denali's birthday -- she was born on our 5th Anniversary!! So Jan 22 is always a special day for us!
2022-01-20 ... Books from Royal Rob
When Advisor Rob Stuart, "Royal Rob", visited us in October, he gave us some textbooks about wool, yarn and weaving.
When turning wool into fabric, there is an amazing amount to know and there are a great many possibilities to choose from. As might be expected, near as I can tell, making a better product always costs more. Also worth noting that these books don't go beyond fabric. Turning fabric into clothing is another whole world of knowledge and judgment, technique and finesse.
2022-01-19 ... Production Update
Anoraks in MidWeight Fabrics Drab and Lynx Pattern are coming along. Factory8 is cutting and sewing Anoraks in both Fabrics, and American Woolen is completing the last pieces of Batch 6 MidWeight Lynx.
MidWeight Lynx Fabric in the finishing department at American Woolen (photo courtesy Jacob Long, owner of American Woolen)
The "marker" shows the pieces of the pattern for each size. The Fabric is cut according to the marker. The marker is a very long sheet of paper that is laid out on the cutting table on top of the stacked sheets of Fabric. (Photo courtesy of JR Morrissey, owner of Factory8)
Fabric is stacked and then cut into the pattern pieces, size-by-size. The paper on top of the Fabric is the marker, which is cut along with the Fabric. (Photo courtesy of JR Morrissey, owner of Factory8)
Sometimes the Fabric is stacked pretty high! (Photo courtesy of JR Morrissey, owner of Factory8)
The pattern pieces are cut and then finished separately. The finished pieces are sewn into Anoraks as a final step. This is a stack of sleeves. The buttons and tape are sewn on, then the cuff is created and then the flat piece of Fabric is sewn into a tube that becomes a sleeve. (Photo courtesy of JR Morrissey, owner of Factory8)
2022-01-18 ... International
We love that we have customers in many countries. About 10% of our orders are shipped to Canada, where Americans woolens do not attract any duty. Today, two people from Shanghai, China, ordered All-Around Jackets. We've only shipped to Shanghai once before, as far as I can remember, so this was surprising. One of them wrote that he felt WeatherWool would be very welcome in stores in Shanghai. We don't intend to be in any stores at all, but it was still really nice to read that!
2022-01-17 ... Sheep History in New England
A customer tipped us to this great video that describes the significance of sheep and wool in the history of New England. I had no idea there were millions of Merino Sheep in New England in 1840 or so. But that surely explains why there is so much wool-industry history, and so many traces of the wool industry still in New England. Tom Wessels, the narrator/host of the video, is talking sheep in the first 5 or 6 minutes, but the whole video, about interpreting the history of the landscape, was very interesting to me. Thanks for the tip, Andy!!
2022-01-16 ... Thanks to the Slimeballs?
Last year, and again this year, the same ads for $50 Anoraks have appeared in many places. The ads are run by a bunch of different companies, presumably all part of one operation. They use pirated material showing our Anorak as well as some others. Quite a few of our customers have alerted me to the ads, and even left some highly critical feedback on the web! THANKS ALL! Funny thing, tho ... some people recognized the impossibility of the claims made by the sleazebags, somehow managed to figure out whose garments were actually shown in the ads, and contacted us about getting some wool!
2022-01-15 ... My Mistake ... Melbourne Closed!!??
Too good to be true. I thought MidWeight Lynx Anoraks were scheduled for completion on 15 February, along with the MidWeight Drab Anoraks. But I've just been informed the projected completion date is 28 March, the Monday before April Fool's Day. UGH! HEAVY-DUTY APOLOGIES to everyone I misled and if springtime (prospective) delivery changes your plans, it's entirely understandable. Again, I'm really happy we do not accept deposits or advance payments.
It's great to have customers in Australia. And not just because Oz is the wool capitol of the world, but also because their seasons are the opposite of ours here in North America. We just tried to send some wool to a customer in Australia and the USPS refused the package, saying Australia is closed. In fact, the USPS website does say that Melbourne is closed to international shipments, but that packages can be routed through Sydney. Our customer wrote us that none of this is correct. DHL accepted the package.
2022-01-14 ... Enjoying Nature, Wrapped in Plastic ... Purple Fat
It's interesting and kind of amazing that searching the web for jackets for Hiking, Backpacking, Camping, Hunting, Fishing, Skiing, Birding and Wildlife Photography turns up almost nothing made of wool. I'm not surprised because I already knew this, but thought I should look again before doing this Blog entry.
For example, Simms offers quite a selection of jackets made for fishing, and they can be sorted by composition:
- Down Blend
- Nylon Blend
- Polyester Blend
- Water Resistant
Anyone reading this Blog probably already knows that I believe wool easily earns a place among all these offerings based solely on performance. And is in fact worn by many fisherman. But aside from performance considerations, it has always seemed really remarkable, strange, even crazy that so many people set out to enjoy Nature wrapped in plastic.
As for PURPLE FAT ... I was speaking a few hours ago with customer Dave, who lives in Alaska and is a very serious meat hunter. Dave and his wife prize the black bear for both meat and fat. Black bear fat has been used for many things over the centuries. I was very surprised when Dave said a bear that has been eating berries will actually have purple fat!2022-01-13 ... Military Clothing
We have very lately been contacted by three instructors in the US Military who are interested in getting some WeatherWool for cold-weather training. We sent WarriorWool donations to two of them, and we hope we can come up with something for the third, but our inventory of "Military-sized" Anoraks is basically zero. About a month ago, within a couple of days, we also heard from a Navy SEAL, a Royal Marine and a guy in Canadian Special Forces. All of these men, and many, many others, have said the same thing: that the Military does not prioritize (to put it euphemistically) providing highest-quality clothing.
Customer James surprised me with a must-do suggestion. He pointed out that when someone is wearing our Double Hood, the tags are visible only is when the Hood is down ... when it is hanging upside-down on the back of the wearer. And in that position, the American Flag is also upside-down! We will flip all the labels next time we make Hoods! MANY THANKS FOR THIS, JAMES!!
We receive customer feedback every day. Usually a few times a day, and we are really grateful for all of it! THANKS EVERYONE!!
You absolutely may! Please don’t post my email address.
Also, it is great purchasing from American companies who source & manufacture their products here at home.
(Funny ... Even I never wanted to post anyone's email address!)
Click to jump to the collection of Watch Cap Reviews.
2022-01-09 ... It's Trade Show Season (but not for us)
People often ask if we attend any trade shows. We don't. We did quite a few shows between 2012 and 2017, but none since. I actually enjoyed the shows, and miss them. It's a pleasure meeting so many people, old friends and new friends and checking out all the other booths. But the shows are very expensive, very time-consuming and disruptive to our normal business. And every show was a financial loss. Probably the ultimate kicker was the sales tax authorities in the various venues became very aggressive, to the point even of demanding we file regular reports and billing us based on their estimate of what our sales should have been.
Dropping off MidWeight Lynx Fabric at Factory8 in NYC's Garment District. More Anoraks coming up!
As we all know well, the US Textile and Garment Industries are much smaller than in the 1990s, let alone the 1950s. A big reason for this decline is the cost of labor in the USA versus many other countries where this type of work can be done. Relatively high American labor costs have led to difficulties for us getting our warp (worsted) yarn spun in the Carolinas.
2022-01-06 ... Ralph's Rapid Transport
We have some Natural-color (cream color) Neck Gaiters that Debby wasn't fully satisfied with. We just decided to offer these on our Specials page at $55 instead of the usual $85. [But they are sold out.]
Our friend Mose over at APROE sent me some photos of Bronze Slot Button prototypes. With luck, Dutchware Gear will be able to make the Bronze and the Titanium Slots (Blog of 2021-12-27).
Mose O’Griffin of APROE has been helping WeatherWool with the fabrication of Bronze Slot Buttons. The design belongs to Mose, used with permission and THANKS!
We are always looking to improve our products in any way we can. And the little widgets that we use for adjustment of hoods and waist cinches have been a sore spot for me since Day 1. They work well, but they are plastic, kind of clunky, and just don't float my boat. There is a huge variety of these clips, but they are all quite a bit alike, and all sold in the same way ... fifteen or twenty cents apiece with a minimum order of 1000 for the small selection made in the USA. (There are tons more made overseas.) We have thousands of these things lying around. Let me know if you need any!