Anyone working with fiber is aware of the environmental issues raised by the growing, processing, manufacture, and waste disposal of textiles. Increasingly this is becoming a defining issue for farmers, designers, and manufacturers.
For over 40 years Wool and Feathers has played a role in reducing waste in the garment industry by making available high quality mill end yarns before they become part of the waste stream. Once a mill’s inventory of yarn falls below their minimum requirements those cones of yarn become waste to the mill, and a prize for hand weavers and knitters.
The issue is getting them from the mill, to the hand crafter’s marketplace… and that is not as easy as it sounds. It is much easier, and cheaper, for a manufacturer to tip unwanted materials into the waste stream. It takes a genuine commitment from a number of parties, from the factory, through buyers, to us, to you, to make these materials available.
How it works..
We receive offers for yarns as they become available. The most common fibers we’ll see are cottons, rayons, and blends, but occasionally we have access to silks, bamboo, and fine wools.
If you are on the email list..
You are shot an announcement of what we’re being offered, and an order link. Mill ends are sold by the pound, and usually aren’t on those wimpy 1 pound cones. Mill ends are 2 pounds or more.. cones you can actually do something with instead of worrying wether or not you’re going to run short before you finish a project.
Mill Ends go quickly.. unusual ones go faster.
We place an order within 24 hours, sometimes less.
Oh! The pressure! What’s the up side?!?
Of course, there is the environmental aspect of the whole thing… we’re part of the team which is doing what it can to keep resources from going to waste.
But the really nifty thing about being environmentally responsible is.. it can save you serious money on materials. A pound of moderate quality weaving cotton will run around $24/pound. A pound of high quality Egyptian cotton.. $42/pound.
Mill end cotton of very high quality can come in for $16 a pound, and occasionally we can offer even better prices.
I get excited just thinking about it.
And, while I raise sheep and produce the wool which appears in my carpets, Gisela and I have spent our weaving careers working with mill ends.. almost half a century of creating art out of what might otherwise have been discarded. Using mill ends means our work is driven in part by what is available at the moment, but that seeming limitation has also been a source of inspiration.
I’m incredibly pleased to once again make this resource available to our Wool and Feathers fans.