so what’s the story behind this magical material?
As a company, Wool and the Gang place a real value on working with materials that reduce the impact on the environment. Our challenge was to find a sister-product to Crazy Sexy Wool. We wanted a yarn that made a bold statement, that was also quick to knit up (ideal for beginners), and that would be a great material for summer.
We’ve always loved t-shirt materials but we wanted to find something that had been recycled, and not just created for the sake of the yarn. We reached out to our old tutors at Central Saint Martins for some help with sourcing and they sent us to Turkey, one of world’s major textiles meccas. What we found there was a family-run business, which collects tonnes (and I mean tonnes!) of the selvedge off-cuts from fabric fashion factories and, using local labour, re-purposes them into the Jersey Be Good we know and love.
Jade Harwood – co-founder and Creative Director
What is selvedge?
Fabric manufacturers will always produce a material wider than is needed in case of shrinkage that can happen during the dyeing process. Any excess is trimmed from the fabric – this is the selvedge, and it usually end its life in a landfill. However, there are solutions to this waste.
On a recent visit to our supplier in Turkey, Jade turned roving reporter to bring you the story behind our Jersey Be Good yarn.
Seeing textiles waste first hand is really unsettling but there are great people like the family business we work with in Turkey who are doing their bit to clean up this crazy fashion industry – we just need to dig deeper to find them.
Here’s the skinny
The company we work with sends its lorries out to around 150 factories to collect their fabric off-cuts. Once collected, the pre-selection process begins. The sacks of scraps are piled high and are hand-sorted by a team of local women – warmly referred to by their employer as ‘the golden girls’. Over 12 tonnes of selvedge are vetted daily, however only roughly 25% of the scraps are of a high enough quality to be recycled as yarn. For the 75% that are too thick or too thin, or of a poor quality, it’s not the end of the line for these scraps. Many of them are press-baled and sent to India, where they are made into rag rugs and industrial felt (like the stuff used to insulate houses!).
Once the selvedges have been selected, the sorting process begins. This can be done in the warehouse, or by local villagers in their own homes. The lengths of fabric are hand-knotted together and wound into balls of the same shades. One worker can sort up to 80 kilos of yarn per day.
The final step is for the yarn to be wound onto bobbins. The balls of yarn are brought back to the warehouse and are wound into cones using hand-operated machines. Each cone is checked and weighed, then packed onto pallets. Each cone will have maximum of four knots – some lucky cones have none at all.
Last year, our supplier produced over 6,000 tonnes of Jersey Be Good yarn, and this year they are set to produce 12,000 tonnes – that’s the weight of around 3,000 elephants!
It’s a great story, right? We hope that you love our Jersey Be Good as much as we do, and celebrate its quirky, unique qualities. Due to the way this yarn is produced, we’ll never be able to guarantee the shades that we receive. So if you see your favourite colour on-site, stock up – it may not be back! And that’s why anything you make from Jersey Be Good will be truly unique.