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Wool is a material it is easy to love. Its testament to its functuality and beauty that wool has been utilised for garment for thousands of years, found to have played a central role in ancient civilizations in the Andes (if you include Alpaca wool) and Mesopotamia.
Today, there´s a wide range of textile products to choose from, many of them designed to serve specific functions and qualities, and out of these; many are inspired by the properties naturally pertaining to wool.
The first attribute that usually comes to mind about wool, is its ability to keep you warm. Its more to it than that; Wool is designed by nature to help the sheep regulate its temperature, so its fair to say that the fibres are indeed temperature regulators, beyond merely offering insulation. The wool leads humidity away from the body and keeps you warm even when wet, thanks to the unique fibre structure.
We know that our knitters in Norway, Scandinavia and beyond appreciate all the yarn qualities we offer; the beautiful colours and the ever expanding catalogue of trendy and traditional designs.
We also know that you care about how the yarn was made, that it didnt cause harm to animals, the environment or workers. More than ever before, our dealings with the world around us, be it individuals, nations, businesses, corporations or humanity at large, are held accountable. There is a growing awareness of how our consumerism and paths to profit affect the greater vulnerable planetary community of human beings, animals and nature, and with that; and understanding of the fact that whatever product you hold in your hand, it had a journey before it got there.
As a consumer, you have the opportunity – and perhaps also a duty – to act in such a way that your environmental footprint is taking as small a toll as possible, that the products you choose didnt cause harm, that the people and animals that was a part of the journey of this product didnt fared well. And to be able to do that, it is key that there are businesses that are run ethically and sustainably, and that there are systems that make it easy for you as a consumer to know which business take on this responisbility, and which do not.
We wish to be such a business, and we´ve taken important steps in the direction of becoming one, at the same time we recognise that there is still room for improvement.
A key concept regarding matters of both animal welfare and sustainability is traceability. Insight, transparency and documentation about the sourcing of raw materials and what processes are part of the manufactoring process leading up to the shop ready product. Certifications and revisions performed by independent third party agents are vital means of creating this kind of transparency, but these systems are still under development. Because of the way in which wool trade happens today, it has so far proved to be very difficult to document a fully traceable chain of supply.
A considerable share of the raw materials we utilise in our production are regional or local and thus easier to trace; 16% of the wool that goes into our yarns is Norwegian. We do also import wool from all over the world; From Peru, Uruguay, Australia, South Africa and India.
What is important to be clear about, is that we strongly disaffiliate mulesing. Our Australian (28%) suppliers are self-declared mulesing free. We would like to take part in the introduction of standards that involve third party certification for mulesing free wool.
We also import considerable amounts of finer wool from Uruguay (22%) where mulesing has never been an issue.
From South Africa (4%) we import mohair from farms that are certified to adhere to animal welfare standards. The mohair is utilised for Silk Mohair and Thin Silk Mohair.
We import alpaca wool from Peru (18%), and our CEO has had the pleasure of meeting several alpaca farmers. The alpacas are free roaming and are rounded up once a year for shearing, which makes alpaca wool one of the more safest types of wool from an ethical point of view.
Cotton is imported from India (12%). There are obviously no animal ethic issues pertaining to cotton, but in a country that is infamous for poor working conditions, we are happy to be able to rely that all factories involved in the cotton we buy meet good standards.
We are grateful for all our good co-workers here in Norway, as well as abroad, representing a broad variety of professions and ethnicities. We hold it as a priority to take good care of relations across borders. Our sales leader has visited Sri Lanka, where we employ a knitting team counting 110 women. These women knit our show models and are able to support their families with this work.
We always make sure working conditions are good, and in India we deal only with businesses we´ve visited and surveilled.
Key to our understanding of sustainability is renewability. Wool and cotton are renewable resources, yet we need to keep in mind that the word resource in this case involves sentient beings that deserve respect and care.
The materials are durable, i.e. they last for a long time, and they are biodegradable. Wool and cotton are as such quite sustainable.
What goes into the equation as a negative factor, is all that is needed to keep the animals. Industrial farming and feeding encompasses deforestation and methane emissions, while an implication of traditional sheep farming is the use of pesticides.
The fact that Norwegian sheep, similar to the alpacas in Peru make use of hilly terrains and thus maintain nature and cultural landscape, are positive factors.
The production stages that involve the handling of the wool and cotton – everything that needs to be done before the yarn bundles are shelf ready – are inhouse processes we are 100% in control of.
We follow strict EU rules and regulations when it comes to dyes. For certain yarn qualities we utilise a method called Superwash. The superwash-treatment encompasses adding resin to the wool fibres to prevent shrinking. First the wool is put through a chlorination process to break down the little shells covering the fibres, thereafter a very fine resin, commercially known as Hercosett. This process ensures that the wool wont felt when in subsequent washes.
The dyeing process requires the use of great amounts of water. In Norway, there is no shortage of clean water, but washing and dyeing the yarn means the water is polluted. We stay well within the regulations defined by the municipality, which requires us to continually measure the amount of toxins in the water discharged. The water passes through the municipality treatment plant before it is discharged into the ocean.
The wool is washed at a temperature of 55 degrees celsius, and as pollution is concerned, there is no higher concentration of chlorine than the average from a regular household. Our Superwash treatment does not implicate microplastic, nor does the washing of the garment made from the yarns subject to this treatment.
On a montly basis we submit water samples to the lab to keep track of discharge of toxins from our factory.
Heating our premises, running our machinery, heating of water for washing and dyeing are all parts of our energy consumption. Most of our energy supply is electric, from Lyse, whose source of energy is mostly hydropowered.
For the washing and dyeing we make use of natural gas, but we are in the process of transitioning to electric power.
All plastic and cardboard is sorted and sent to recycling, and we utilise recycled paper for all our yarn banners. Yarn waste from the production is upcycled to a rough type of yarn particularly suitable for knitting chunky socks.
We mainly produce yarn from natural fibres, but there are instances that call for additional nylon for extra durability, for garment longevity. Examples are socks yarn Perfect, KlompeLompe Spøt, Tresko and Sisu. The latter is also suitable for children´s garments that are required to handle wear and tear.
What is slow fashion? Most people have heard about the slow food movement, but how do we understand this in terms of fashion?
The cycle of spring, summer, fall and winter define the perpetual sequences of trends and news launched ahead of each season. It is exciting and inspiring, but also a driver of consumption – which in turn often means shorter life span for the garments produced. Part and parcel of the fashion industry is the unfortunate fact that enormous amounts of clothes are produced and then discarded as the shelves need to restock with the latest, and last seasons products are not sold. According to a SIFO report called “Consumption of clothes in Norway”, every 5th garment bought is never ever used.
Now, we sell designs and yarn, and therefor we never dump collections. Because we produce in Norway, we are dynamic and always have the advantage of being able to adjust our production according to demand, and so our stock is in sync with the needs of our customers.
Another aspect of slow fashion is how the garment comes into being; Our clients knit themselvs, and with that comes a natural understanding for the process, for the material and for the time invested, which in turn makes us value the garments more and take better care of it. When we make our own clother, our awareness of the people around the world creating our clothes may be heightened, and with that also the enormous resources required for the mill of the fashion industry to keep spinning, as it were.
From this perspective, we are a part of the Slow Fashion – and the Make Your Own Fashion movement, and thereby contribute to minimizing uneccessary impulsive buys of clothes that end up not being worn.
And – in the spirit of body positivity, we cheer for all people and all body types. When you create your own garment, you get to make sure they fit you perfectly; the garment is made for the body, not the other way around.