Hello! Our lovely spinners have graciously agreed to answer some questions and share some information about themselves. Since taking over O-Wool in May, I have enjoyed learning about the people that make O-Wool, and hope you will, too.
Above is a photograph of the beautiful mill in Central Massachusetts, and here is some of what David has to say about their family owned spinning mill!
What is the history of your mill?
"My grandfather & father bought into a existing spinning mill back in 1957. They made yarn for the sweater industry for the longest time. Then all of that went overseas. Now we make yarn for a variety things which include berets for the army, navy pea coats, blankets for the military, etc."
Is most of your family still involved?
"I am the president [David] & John [my brother] is the vice president. There are 5 brothers, with 4 still working here. We all started coming to work on Saturdays, school vacation & summers starting when we were 13 or so years old. I’m 56 now so I’ve been coming here for 40 plus years. We all wear many hats here as it is a family business. John runs the spinning mill which is picking, carding , spinning & conewinding. I run the twisting dept. and do the shipping billing and office related things - along with electrical work, snowplowing and a few other things.
What is your favorite fiber to spin?
"We spin a wide variety of fibers including wool, alpaca, buffalo and synthetics. I personally don’t have a favorite - as long as it runs well."
What do you and your family do when they are NOT spinning yarn?
I am married with no kids. I like to hike in my spare time. I usually go to Acadia National Park every year after Columbus Day. John is married with 3 kids. John is into deep sea fishing. He runs several fishing trips for his friends and some of the people who work here each year.
That's all for now, folks! Hope you enjoy this little glimpse into the lives of the people who make your favorite organic hand knitting yarn. I find it disheartening that yarn for the sweater industry is mostly overseas at this point, but I know knitter's are becoming more and more interested in domestically sourced and produced yarns. Companies like Quince & Co. are spearheading 100% domestically made yarn, but it is still near impossible to find commercially producible quantities of luxury fibers like Merino and Alpaca grown in the USA - and then make the yarn affordable, to boot. Supply always catches up with demand, so knitters, demand it! I hope to one day be able to source O-Wool's Merino from North America - this is my goal. For now, we will happily support USDA certified organic merino farmers throughout Australia.
Next up: Our skein winder! He happens to be right down the street from the O-Wool warehouse, so I'll have to go pay him a visit and chat him up if I can catch him - he starts winding yarn at 5am, and is one of the last traces of the once abundant textile industry in Philadelphia.