The other big debate at Ovis Yarns - The Merino Question
So the UK is in meltdown over the Referendum today, well at least I am, my anxiety levels have been set to max. However as all I can do is use my one vote to try and make a difference, I've decided to try and tackle a similar anxiety inducing problem we have at Ovis Yarns*
This problem has become known as The Merino Question (or sometimes when I'm really mulling this over, The Merino problem) The question is this...
Is Falklands merino British wool, and should we expand our company definition of "British wool" to include it?
Now this question stems from requests for various merino bases for custom orders, so far I have turned these requests down, or offered a suitable alternative (for example our Bluefaced Leicester 4ply, Poppy Sock is an excellent alternative to Merino/Nylon for sock knitting) However it is becoming such a regular request that I've begun to really ponder whether we should stock it.
Different people and different groups have differing opinions on whether Falklands merino is "British wool" or not as the Falklands is a British overseas territory. I'm so conflicted on the issue and I have spent the best part of 6 months trying to source a UK supplier of merino from UK flocks, but it just isn't possible in the quality and amount I require.
Here are my thoughts:
a) Merino is a lovely fibre and it blends in such a beautiful way with other breeds (like alpaca) I would love to add a Merino Base to Ovis Yarns so that we can provide a super soft wool which is in such demand.
b) All of our current bases are from UK flocks, processed and spun in Yorkshire and then dyed on Merseyside. The Carbon footprint for that is very low. Introducing Falkland Merino is the complete opposite to low-carbon, as it will have travelled across the globe. (one of our main concerns)
c) Ovis Yarns started as a way to support and promote the British wool industry, and to some people the Falklands industry is part of that. It is the main industry on the Islands, and I would be supporting that. The fleece and yarn itself is still processed and spun in the UK. But would it be at the expense of a UK producer I just haven't found yet?
d) Falklands Merino is (from my research) more ethical than New Zealand or Australian Merino where mulesing is common practice.
f) When people see "British wool" do they realise that it maybe from the Falklands? I never (but I may have been naive) but if I did choose to stock it, I could be upfront about it?
g) I'm worried it could become a slippery slope to accepting wool that is only grown in the UK, but spun elsewhere, or even grown and spun in the UK - but washed and prepped elsewhere.
So what are you thoughts? As you can see I have pros and cons to the decision of stocking Falkland Merino.
Do you think I should stock Falklands Merino as a "British yarn"?
Or do you believe British wool should be wool grown within the UK.
Let me know!
* I am in no way actually comparing the serious and weight issue of the referendum - The comparison is purely jest - although I feel very strongly about the Referendum and quite anxious about the result (I'm all for Remain for what it is worth)