O-Wool

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Big News! As of September 11, 2017, our O-Wash line of yarns are certified 'organic' by the Global Organic Textile Standard!

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.

 

Many of O-Wool's yarns are 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 three 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 charming 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 it sounds like they have to shut down the machinery to speak with me. When our mill isn’t spinning O-Wool, they are spinning yarn that’s used to make part of the core of major league baseballs.

 

The heart of O-Wool has always lain 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 family farms within 1 hour of Philadelphia!

 

If you would like detailed information on O-Wool’s fiber sourcing and animal welfare standards, cleaning, spinning and dyeing processes, please read 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, printmaking and painting. 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 took over 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 19 years and have made it O-Wool's priority to purchase humanely-produced fiber. This means non-mulesed Merino raised under the animal welfare regulations of certified organic production, or local fiber from animals and farmers I have met.

After living in cities for 15 years, and dreaming since I was a child of having my own farm... we finally did it!! In December of 2018 we moved to our very own farm. Our 5 chickens and 5 ducks came with us and now live in a fabulous area we call "Duckie-Town". In the farmhouse lives our shelter dog (Eda), our rescued Pit Bull (Halloumi), our shelter cat (McKinley) and a rotating cast of senior foster animals from City of Elderly Love animal rescue. An outdoor cat has decided he lives here now, so we named him Benjamin and now he's our barn cat. My horse of 3 years, Chubbs, came with us (of course - he's my soulmate), and we got him some friends as well. Roman is a GIANT former police horse who is 4 years old and loves to joke around. Cappy is a retired race horse (now competition sport horse extraordinaire) who takes his self-appointed job as "head of the herd" very seriously. And we've just adopted a rescue mini-horse named Sparkles from Last Chance Ranch Animal Rescue. She has some health problems, but doesn't let that hold her back from being the sassiest, spunkiest, tiniest blond horse around.

I spend my free time (which is becoming less available these days!) knitting in our comfy new farm house, and horseback riding as much as possible! If you follow me on Instagram, you will see entirely too many photos of all of these things, and a few of yarn, too. Our long-term goals for the farm are: to start a non-profit farm animal sanctuary, to operate on solar power, to grow some food, and to help as many animals as we can without becoming hoarders. My wonderful fiance Patrick, despite being born and bred in the city, has taken to country life quite readily, and is the greatest partner on this crazy adventure that I could ever ask for.