Celebrating the successes of ‘Made with Wool’
An ambitious project which aimed to increase the use of wool through solving problems and identifying new uses is continuing its work, despite coming to the end of its initial funding.
The ‘Made with Wool’ project was set up by social enterprise Menter Môn to bring together stakeholders from the supply chain, generate and develop ideas for innovative uses of wool and help them on their way to commercialisation. It was originally funded by Rural Development Wales but that has now come to an end, however Mentor Môn is continuing to support the project.
The inspiration for Made with Wool came from a report on the state of the wool industry in Gwynedd published in 2019. Project manager Elen Parry said: “We created a wool cluster to discuss how we could realise the potential of wool as a natural, sustainable and versatile material.”
“Welsh Mountain wool isn’t suitable for textiles, so we wanted to find innovative new ways to use it,” she said. “We identified lots of ideas and then set out to find individuals or businesses who could take them forward.” These included the use of wool in paths as an alternative to geothermal textile, insulation, hydroponics, filters and even composite car parts. Scoping studies were carried out to investigate specific products or wider issues with the wool supply chain such as new technology for wool processing, the availability of mills, uses of lanolin and education for children on wool, its production and benefits.
“One of these studies looked at how we could create an affordable 100% Welsh yarn which looked at which breeds we would need to use to create a yarn that manufacturers would want to use. We also developed a free wool testing kit to enable farmers to test the micron of the wool they produce if they were wanting to introduce different breeds to improve the potential value of their fleeces.”
The project also included a mentoring scheme with eight individuals benefitting from specialist support and advice on starting a wool-related business.
Even though the focus was Welsh wool the project’s findings are applicable far and wide, Elen explained. “Our wool path project on Anglesey in particular has generated interest and we know of projects in Scotland thinking about doing the same thing.”
Partnership with British Wool has been key to the project’s success, she added. “The team at British Wool have been key members of our steering group and have hosted events at the Newtown depot. They have also given us presentations on the traceability scheme and other things they are working on. By having British Wool as project partners, this has helped make things possible.”
British Wool’s Head of Member Engagement Gareth Jones said "British Wool are delighted to work with Menter Mon. We congratulate the Menter Mon team for all their work on the project so far.”
Despite the end of the project funding the wool cluster continues to grow. Elen concluded: “People are still joining the cluster and the message is that we are still here as are all the resources we created.”
For more information and to join the Wool Cluster visit https://gwnaedagwlan.cymruBack to Blogs