O-Wool

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If you would like technical information on O-Wool’s fiber sourcing, cleaning, spinning and dyeing processes, please download the FAQ!

 

O-Wool is a small company with the goal of providing knitters and crafters with a yarn that is environmentally responsible, affordable, and made locally in Philadelphia and the USA.

O-Wool’s skeins are wound by a gentleman in Philadelphia who has been working in the textile mills since his teens. It is a joy to watch him work – stopping and starting the skeining machines, snipping and tying off the skeins with the speed of someone who’s been doing it their whole life. He works in an old mill in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. In 1928, one third of Philadelphia’s 850 textile companies resided in Kensington, and it was considered the heart of manufacturing in the city. As textile manufacturing became cheaper abroad, Philadelphia could not compete. There are likely less than 50 textile companies in the whole city, and Kensington’s booming industry has given way to drug dealing and violence. I am happy that O-Wool can play a small part in supporting this last vestige of Kensington’s history.

 

O-Wool is dyed in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. The mill was built in 1885 and has served a wide variety of textile services, including spinning, dyeing, weaving and carpet making. It currently produces woven twill tapes and provides dyeing services. Germantown, like Kensington, had a booming textile manufacturing industry that is now almost completely gone. In Philadelphia, it is a rare and beautiful thing to see a textile mill that is still a textile mill. Despite some technological advances, when I walk in to this mill I am humbled by its history, and feel honored when I step in to the dye house and see O-Wool dripping over the pots.

 

O-Wool is spun in the USA. One of our two mills is located outside of Boston. The mill was built in the mid-1700s and is one of the oldest operating spinning mills in the country. The gentlemen who run it have thick Boston accents and speak textile like it is their first language. They brim with technical information and are fascinating, but I try to keep my calls brief as they often have to shut down the machinery to speak with me. When our mill isn’t spinning O-Wool, they are spinning the red yarn that’s used to stitch up major league baseballs.

 

The heart of O-Wool has always lied in certified organic fibers. I source merino wool from certified organic farms in South America or Australia (non-mulesed). I source cotton from certified organic farms in the USA. I source my alpaca from a cute little family farm about 45 minutes away!

 

If you would like more technical information on O-Wool’s fiber sourcing, cleaning, spinning and dyeing processes, please download the FAQ!
 
If you would like more information about Philadelphia’s textile manufacturing history, please visit WorkshopoftheWorld.com
 
My name is Jocelyn J. Tunney. I have BS in Studio Art with a concentration in Fiber Arts (among other things). After college, I worked in yarn shops in NYC while I tried to figure out what to do with my life. As it turns out, it was staring me in the face - I wanted to do yarn and fiber. I moved to Philadelphia and worked towards a Master's degree in Textile Design & Engineering, where I learned insanely technical things about fiber, yarn and fabric that no normal person ever need know. I became the Associate Director of Fairmount Fibers, the distributor of Manos del Uruguay yarns in the USA. Because apparently I didn't have enough to do, I established O-Wool in May 2010 and put to good use the insanely technical knowledge I gained in graduate school. Fiber, yarn and fabric fascinate me in a completely inexplicable way (if you're reading this, you are probably in the same boat), and O-Wool provides me the opportunity to pair this with my passion for animal welfare and interest in environmental sustainability.

 

Second to fiber, animals are a true love of mine. I have been vegetarian for 14 years and have made O-Wool's top priority purchasing humanely produced fiber. This means non-mulesed Merino, or local fiber from animals and a farmer I know. (If you want more info on the cruel mulesing process performed on Merino sheep used for fiber, Google it (most descriptions will be graphic - just a warning)). I foster cats and dogs through Philly ACCT and live with 2 shelter dogs and a shelter cat. I've finally moved out of the city to a beautiful old historic farm house in Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley Park. We've just finished building a coop for our 4 chickens (Brontosaurus, Princess Buttercup, Rumpy and Lucille). This summer I look forward to building a massive garden and enjoying some fresh eggs and veggies. I'm right next to a horse stable and go out riding with my favorite horse, Buddy, almost every weekend. If you follow me on Instagram, you will see entirely too many photos of all of these things, and a few of yarn, too. Some day I hope to own some land where I can house O-Wool, an adopted Mustang or two, some rescued farm animals, a couple of old Pit Bulls, a sizable vegetable garden, and my wonderful boyfriend, who I hope will help me with all of it (I'm going to need it!).