Updated: Jun 1
When I started this venture, I was really interested in how the product I was using was created. I was living in the UK at the time and wanted to source a product that was as local as I could get. I went to the Chester Wool Company and talked with Jen there about their product. I was really heartened by what she had to say. They work with smaller mills in Europe, Africa and South America who source their fleece from communities that care for their animals and pay their people properly. They even support a women's cooperative that provides women the opportunity to hand spin as they have done for generations. This keeps a traditional custom alive but even more importantly it means they can stay with their families and not move to the cities to get work. I like what they stand for as a company.
While this is important to me, the overriding factor is that their products are gorgeous! They have a wide range of base yarns that include baby camel, alpaca, yak, to name a few. So until I am able to find a more local producer that can match the ethics and quality, as well as the variety, then I feel that the extra miles are justified.
While I have yet to find a company with the same variety, more local to my new home in Tasmania, is White Gum Wools. I have always loved the quality of their merino and have been in contact with them off and on to see how I can supply their products. I am a small concern so this can sometimes be difficult to gain a wholesale account. Once I decided to stock roving, I could see an opportunity! So now I am so pleased to be able to stock their products. Their roving is incredibly soft and an absolute joy to spin.
But you also supply silk!!! Ahhh, this has been my dilemma for a while now. It's probably the remaining reason I don't feel I can advertise as a wholly ethical product. It is primarily sourced from China where the employment standards are not as transparent as other countries. So for that reason I feel my choice is to stock it or not stock it. Currently I have silk and silk blends in stock but am deciding whether to continue to do so.
But Australian merinos are mulesed!! In all honesty, I had only heard of this while I was living in the UK. There was a push to ban Australian merino due to this practice. While I will address this in a later post, rest assured that CWC use only merino from South America where this is not practiced. WGW have their own merino sheep and they don't mules their sheep either.
So in response to the original question, being as ethical as is practical is important to me. I'm happy to answer any questions in this regard. You can also go to the websites of: