What does making and crafting with the beautiful natural fibre of wool offer us?

Wool in its natural colours, professionally processed (dark and light grey skeins), clumsily hand spun by me (two small balls of mixed colours) and a bit of Icelandic fleece at far right. Photo: Kathleen Vaughan

Does the pleasure of handwork and the chance to work in community with other makers bring us comfort in this time of [post?] pandemic anxiety? Does wool’s biodegradability ease our ecological grief as our planet faces what seems like catastrophic climate change?

My hunch is “YES!!” and with colleagues Miranda Smitheram (Design and Computation Arts) and Kelly Thompson (Fibres and Material Practices), and students at Concordia University, I have put together a research project, The Future is Wool, to find out more from people like you who work with wool. We will join our community partners, the TWIST Fibre Festival, this August 12-14, 2022, and invite some of the thousands of attendees to tell us their side of the story by completing an online questionnaire, showing us their favourite knit creations, and possibly joining a hybrid (in person in Montreal/online anywhere) knitting circle in the fall/winter of 2022/23.

We hope to make and learn with you, and help support a societal shift back to natural fibres and glorious wool in particular, at this pivotal moment in our planet’s history.

To access the survey (and the consent form that is required to protect participants’ rights according to University research rules), click here. The survey is available online in both English and French until October 3, 2022.

Icelandic ewe and two new lambs at the farm of Jóhanna Erla Pálmadóttir, Akur, Iceland. Sheep are raised for meat and wool. Photo: Kathleen Vaughan