Local Wool means sourcing, milling and producing fibers as close to home as possible. For us, this means within 300 miles (287 to be exact).
By collaborating with responsible growers who focus on climate-appropriate breeds, we support biodiversity at the micro and macro level. The local production loop is more sustainable because we can work with growers who are committed to responsible, ethical farming practices that prioritize animal welfare and contribute to soil health (sequestering carbon).
The traditional textile industry uses a lot of fossil fuels as raw materials are often shipped to several destinations throughout the process of transforming raw fibers into yarn, then dyeing and finishing the fiber into garments and household goods. By keeping the travel radius of the fiber down to just a few hundred miles and coordinating to minimize even local driving, we dramatically reduce the fuel waste generated by shipping materials over long distances.
Internationally shipped garments and fibers are almost always required to be packaged in plastic, either due to trade regulations or to protect the fibers themselves. The local fiber process does not involve the use of plastic bags or any excess packaging materials as we are able to pick up the raw and finished goods ourselves, and there is little risk to the fibers during transport because of this.
Accountability and Fair Price
By choosing farms, mills and artisans that are local, we enjoy the added benefit of meeting with them face-to-face and learning about their process as well as the challenges facing both the NY regional and US textile industries. It also allows for greater accountability throughout the textile process since we can guarantee that the farmer, miller and knitter are all paid a fair price.
Local Wool Company
In an effort to support local farms and better understand the processes involved in textile production, Mind Offline embarked on a journey to produce our own yarns and hand knit garments in the most close-looped system possible. Local Wool Company is the result of that ambition and ongoing educational process. Our intention is to work with a handful of local fiber producers each year and release small collections that highlight the unique qualities of that particular fiber.
Browder’s Birds Cotswold Sheep
Long Island provides an ideal climate for heritage breeds like the Cotswold sheep at Browder's Birds. After meeting the flock in 2020, we fell in love with the animals and the unique qualities of the fiber they produced. The fact that sheep are just a short ferry ride away, and we have great trust in the care taken to raise and harvest the fiber, are key to our decision to work with local wool. Cotswold wool is hearty; incredibly heat-efficient; suffers virtually no pilling when hand knit; and with care, will truly last a lifetime. The hand feel is more coarse than some commercially available yarns but is not scratchy. It is softer than a traditional Shetland or Icelandic wool though equally warm. Those who love it, love it. If you have a coveted hand knit sweater made in England, Scotland or Ireland, this is a good wool for you.
NY Textile Lab
Our journey into sustainable textile production was kickstarted by an introduction to Laura Sansone, founder of NY Textile Lab. On a visit to Parsons School of Design in regards to sustainable packaging initiatives, we had the chance to meet with Laura, a professor of textiles at the school. Within minutes of learning about her mission, we realized that our understanding of sustainable textiles was incomplete. Why was it that we were so focused on local, climate-appropriate foods and farming and we never considered fiber farming in that conversation? As an avid knitter, local fiber rarely entered into the conversation. Foreign fibers—often shipped to multiple global destinations for scouring and milling and dyeing and knitting—had become the norm. Laura Sansone continues to be a valuable resource to us in this journey and we are incredibly grateful for the guidance she has given.