Wool – A Dying Trade?

Wool has for many years now been a principle part of the British economy. In fact even during the Bronze Age these ancient isles of ours were recognised by Europe and North Africa as an important trading outpost for commodities such as tin and wool.

Unfortunately in recent years the condition of the world’s wool trade has been in serious decline. Sheep numbers have been decreasing the world over, including in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Farmers have been feeling the full effect of this down turn with wool at one point reaching a lower selling price that it cost them to actually have it sheared!

In an effort to raise awareness of wool, and to save the industry, many initiatives have been set up, none doing more so for wool than ‘The Campaign for Wool’.

Campaign for Wool

The aim of The Campaign for Wool is to raise the awareness of British wool and to restore the mechanisms that will reinstate a thriving wool industry not only in this country but throughout the world.

The Campaign for Wool has been operating since 2010 when Prince Charles started the initiative. He was responding to the global downturn in the wool trade. The aim of the campaign is to champion wool as a viable option in the manufacture of all kinds of products and to make the commodity competitive again against modern man-made fibres.

One of the main campaign areas of the Campaign for Wool and one which they quite rightly focus on is that of wool being incredibly environmentally friendly and sustainable. For centuries humans have been farming sheep for the use of their wool as a primary ingredient for the production of many familiar items, not just textiles like clothing, but for other products such as carpets too.

Wool Week UK

Campaign for Wool’s premier event is Wool Week UK. Although the organisation runs a host of other events throughout the year promoting wool, the main event, and the main focus for their campaign is Wool Week UK.

Wool Week UK has so far been a resounding success. The ability of The Campaign for Wool to get a multitude of designers, stores, and other retailers onboard to endorse it has ultimately lead to its success. Last year the event was sponsored in part by Rowan Yarn, a Yorkshire wool brand. In addition to this a host of top name high street stores such as Liberty, House of Fraser, Debenhams and Selfridges often take part in the campaign, and for that week of the year they can be found with specially designed window displays and other merchandising efforts in their stores.

This year’s Wool Week is set to take place between the 15th and the 21st of October, where wool focussed activities and events will take place across all of the UK. Another significant note to make about this year is that Wool Week has also been adopted by both France and Italy in an attempt to boost the knowledge and desire of woollen products in their own countries.

Effectiveness of the Campaign For Wool

It’s hard to tell due to the limited time that the campaign has been running however the Campaign for Wool themselves note that they have already seen a positive increase to the sector through their efforts. The Campaign for Wool has in recent months seen the price of wool rocket with many farmers taking three times as much money for the wool than they were being paid for the raw material before the campaign started.

  • Photograph By Oliver Herold (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

For a wonderful selection of Rowan Yarn is available from the Pack Lane Wool online store!