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Blog 2022

BLOGS FROM OTHER YEARS

WeatherWool news and topics of interest.

BLOG entries by Ralph unless otherwise noted. Feedback welcomed!
-- Ralph@WeatherWool.com / 973-943-3110 (mobile)


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.
     

American Woolen Company (AWC) of Stafford Springs, Connecticut, is one of the companies that helps in the long and complicated process of creating WeatherWool finished Fabric from the raw (greasy) wool that WeatherWool purchases from its ranchers. American Woolen does our spinning and finishing.

MidWeight Lynx Fabric in the finishing department at American Woolen (photo courtesy Jacob Long, owner of American Woolen)

 

WeatherWool has long relied heavily on the garment design and production expertise of JR Morrissey, proprietor of TheFactory8, located in the heart of the Garment District of New York City.

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)

   

WeatherWool has long relied heavily on the garment design and production expertise of JR Morrissey, proprietor of TheFactory8, located in the heart of the Garment District of New York City.

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)

   

WeatherWool has long relied heavily on the garment design and production expertise of JR Morrissey, proprietor of TheFactory8, located in the heart of the Garment District of New York City.

Sometimes the Fabric is stacked pretty high! (Photo courtesy of JR Morrissey, owner of Factory8)

WeatherWool has long relied heavily on the garment design and production expertise of JR Morrissey, proprietor of TheFactory8, located in the heart of the Garment District of New York City.   

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
    • Gore-Tex
    • Nylon
    • Nylon Blend
    • Polyester
    • Polyester Blend
    • PrimaLoft
    • PrimaLoft/Down
    • Toray
    • Waterproof
    • 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.
        
      A few years ago, we donated some wool to SOCOM (Special Operations Command) in Afghanistan. I was in touch with the guy who had responsibility for all Special Forces deployments in Afg -- mostly Army SF but also Navy, Marines and, I think, Air Force. He said everyone loved our stuff, and he provided a written testimonial that has been posted on the WarriorWool page ever since. He also sent me photos that I cannot share. We spoke several times (voice-comms between New Jersey and Afghanistan can be amazingly good!). Once, he asked me if we could send more garments/Anoraks, and when I asked if he could buy, he said Uncle Sam didn't have any money for that. Same story I have heard repeatedly from US Military.
        
      Note: WarriorWool is mostly worn by Special Forces only because almost all others must wear standard-issue garments. We are big fans of everyone in our Military!
         
      2022-01-11 ... Upside Down Flag!
      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!!
                
      WeatherWool will rearrange the labels on the Double Hood so that when the labels are visible (when the Hood is hanging upside down behind the wearer) the American Flag will be right-side up!
                
      2022-01-10 ... Reviews with/without Attribution
      We receive customer feedback every day. Usually a few times a day, and we are really grateful for all of it! THANKS EVERYONE!!
         
      For a long time I had a policy of not publishing any reviews without including the reviewer's full name. And understandably, lots of people don't want their names on the web. But lately I've realized that usually it doesn't matter much anyway because most names are far from unique. Over the weekend we received a wonderful review of our Watch Cap and the reviewer did give me permission to use his full name. But it turns out there are a couple of well-known people with the same name, and some others, too. I always strive for clear and full disclosure on the website, but sometimes it seems better to just relax. So ... THANK YOU RYAN!!!
         
      Hi, I recently purchased a WeatherWool beanie.I must say it is BY FAR the best beanie I have ever had!! This beanie just replaced the 3 other ones I have been using. Yes it is expensive but after a month of using it, it is well worth the extra money. To start with it is super soft & very warm in temps down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit [-15C] but not overly warm. This is about the coldest it gets in our area.What I mean by not overly warm is it breathes like no other. I don’t have to take it off when in the vehicle or indoors as I did every other one I’ve ever owned. With the other hats I’ve owned, I am a sweaty mess when I take the hat off. Not with this one. This beanie has no seams & no annoying, sometimes uncomfortable inner label which is a significant improvement over every other beanie I’ve ever worn. Also no branding is another aspect I really enjoy. I enjoy this beanie so much that I am considering getting a second one. I have 2 great wool coats already so I am covered in that area but even though they are great brands from iconic American makers, I’m not sure they stack up to WeatherWool based upon this beanie. If I am ever in need of another for some reason, WeatherWool will be my first choice. Keep up the great work!!
         
      When I asked permission to post Ryan's review along with his full name, he responded:
         

      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.

      Thank you           

      (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.

          
      2022-01-08 ... NYC Run
      Dropping off MidWeight Lynx Fabric at Factory8 in NYC's Garment District. More Anoraks coming up!
         
      Delivering WeatherWool MidWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric to Factory8 in the Garment District of New York City
      On Saturday morning, I can pull up and park the trailer right in front of Factory8 in the heart of NYC's Garment District. Midtown Manhattan should be relatively quiet on Saturday morning, but not THIS quiet.
         
      JR Morrissey, proprietor of Factory8, tells me MidWeight Anoraks in both Solid Drab Color and Lynx Pattern should be completed by mid-February.
         
      2022-01-07 ... Labor Shortages
      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.
        
      A web-search this morning for new (to us) spinners of worsted wool yarn led me to  "Woolen and Worsted Yarn", a great page from Brooklyn Tweed, linked with THANKS (and I hope permission!).
        
      We will do everything we can to continue to make 100% American products, and we are happy to see Brooklyn Tweed doing the same!

      2022-01-06 ... Ralph's Rapid Transport
      Today I picked up about 1200 yards (1100 meters) of "loom-state" MidWeight Lynx Fabric at MTL and dropped it off at AWC. While at AWC I had a very pleasant meeting with Jacob Long, the owner, discussing the state of the American Textile Industry, and the woolen industry in particular. After meeting with Jacob, I met with Plant Manager Giuseppe Monteleone, who showed me samples of our fiber as dyed by Tintoria Piana, a new (for us) dye house that is working with AWC.
         
      Before leaving AWC, Jacob and I loaded my trailer with about 634 yards (580 meters) of finished MidWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric and trucked that back home, a circuit of about 500 miles (800 km). Nice to get out of the truck at the end of the day! On Saturday, the MidWeight Lynx Fabric goes to Factory8 where it will become Anoraks.
         
      It's impressive to me that the owners of MTL (Mike Hillebrand) and AWC routinely help me load/unload. Mike, who is well into his 70s, was on the loading dock before 7AM. I usually start my "mill run" about 4AM, but this morning had icy conditions in North Jersey and I didn't get rolling until about 4:45.
         
      2022-01-05 ... Neck Gaiter "Special Seconds"
      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.
         
      2022-01-04 ... Brass Slot Button Protos
      Our friend Mose over at APROE sent me some photos of Brass Slot Button prototypes. With luck, Dutchware Gear will be able to make the Brass and the Titanium Slots (Blog of 2021-12-27).
          
      Mose O’Griffin of APROE has been helping WeatherWool with the fabrication of Brass Slot Buttons

      Mose O’Griffin of APROE has been helping WeatherWool with the fabrication of Brass Slot Buttons
            

      2022-01-03 ... Prusik Knot
      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!
         
      A couple of weeks ago, we were visiting DutchWare Gear. The visit was actually a skull session on Slot Buttons (Blog of 2021-12-14), but while he showed us around his facility, Dutch demonstrated how he uses a Prusik Knot on some of his products. Debby had not seen a Prusik knot before, and immediately wondered if we could use a Prusik knot to replace our cord locks. I love the idea, and even though I've been familiar with this knot for many years, I never made the connection that Debby did right off the bat.
         
      WeatherWool is exploring the use of a Prusik Knot to replace the typical plastic cord locks.Many Thanks to Dutch at DutchWare Gear for this first cut at a Prusik knot (both knot-cord and main-cord) that might be used to control adjustment of our hoods and waist cinches.
         
      A Prusik knot is really interesting because you can slide it in either direction with your fingers, but pull on the main loop and it locks in place. Mountaineers and arborists use the Prusik knot for some very serious loads.
         
      It's not at all clear yet that this will satisfy our needs, but we will experiment with it and with some Prusik variations, and I'm really glad Debby came up with this idea. I'm also really glad Dutch gave us a tour of the whole place!  THANKS DUTCH!!!
         
      2022-01-02 ... Website Visitors
      Last year this website hosted visitors from about 160 countries!!
         
      2022-01-01 ... Happy New Year ... Seeking Frank Feedback
      As I wrote yesterday, usually people wish each other a Happy New Year, and for sure we are there with that. But lately I've just been wishing that things get back to normal. So ... wishing everyone a normal year!
      We regularly get feedback from customers. More than once a day. And we appreciate every bit of it ... emails, text messages, Facebook posts and messenger, Instagram, phone calls, even snail mail occasionally. The feedback is amazingly positive, and that's a huge thing for us. But our customers are really, really nice people. And they understand that WeatherWool is a family business, and very personal. So I'm concerned that people who have some kind of a negative experience might be keeping it to themselves out of kindness or charity or courtesy.  But we really need to hear about any problems! Please!!