About

What is WOVEMBER?

The idea is to show our collective appreciation of WOOL by wearing as much of this fabulous fibre as possible, and celebrating WOOL and its unique qualities in stories and pictures throughout the month of November. We hope that through our enthusiasm and creativity we can raise awareness of WHAT MAKES WOOL DIFFERENT, and jointly create a force for WOOL APPRECIATION strong enough to effect changes in how garments and textiles are described and marketed.


(Herdwick ram, photographed by Kate Davies)

The unique properties of WOOL (warmth, wicking, durability) mean that it is a fibre particularly suitable for winter garments. Precisely because of these properties, the terms WOOL, WOOLLY, and WOOLLEN carry a cachet that the fashion industry — particularly in recent cost-cutting years — has been all too-ready to exploit. By describing fabrics and garments as WOOL that contain little or no WOOL AT ALL, the fashion industry has increased consumer ignorance, profiting from the prestige of WOOL, while damaging ACTUAL WOOL and the livelihoods of those who raise, produce and process it. By reconnecting the words WOOLLY, WOOLLEN and WOOL with the noble animals from which that peerless fibre comes, it is hoped that we will be able to end the widespread abuse of these terms in the fashion industry, and their misapplication to garments which bear no connection to actual sheep.

100% WOOL on a Rough Fell Sheep, photographed by Dr Felicity Ford at WOOLFEST, 2009

The word WOOL refers to the fibre, yarn or fabric derived from the fleece of THE SHEEP; it does not refer to the fleece of other animals nor to fibres derived from petrochemicals or plants. The cache value of WOOL is evident through its frequent use in product and garment descriptions in which the word WOOL is used to conjure up an idyllic idea of the country, green fields, sheep, and garments whose principal qualities are warmth and cosiness.

100% WOOL on sheep grazing in Sussex, photographed by Dr Felicity Ford in 2009

However to use the term WOOL to describe products which bear no substantial relationships with either this landscape or these animals is a misleading appropriation of those pleasant associations. Why should it be OK to use the term WOOL when the hard work that really goes into producing WOOL hasn’t been done? We recognise the value of other cache terms such as Champagne – which we expect to refer only to wine made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France; or Chocolate – which we expect to contain at least some quantity of material found in an actual cocoa bean. So how is it that the term WOOL can be used willy-nilly, as a general descriptor of anything vaguely warm and fuzzy? WOOL is grown over time, through the husbandry, patience and wisdom of farmers and shepherds. Land, diet and a knowledge of different breeds play an important role in the quality and texture of real WOOL. A detailed knowledge of twist, fibre-lengths and spinning processes must also be employed in order to manufacture good quality yarns for knitting and weaving. By allowing the word WOOL to be applied indiscrimately to anything soft, the specific skills, crafts and labour associated with WOOL and its production become devalued.

The end result of such misappropriation is that a search through an online shop for a WOOL jumper leads you to this charming number, which – although described as being “crafted in a fine knitted, angora wool blend” is actually comprised of the following substances: 40% Viscose, 30% Cotton, 20% Polyamide, 5% Wool, 5% Angora wool.

( garment containing 5% wool, found by running a product search on ASOS for “wool jumper”)

Instigated by Drs Kate Davies and Felicity Ford in response to their frustrations at the misuse of the words “WOOL” and “WOOLLEN” in garment descriptions, Wovember aims to reinstate the true value of those terms by linking them with the animals and people who raise, produce and process our WOOL.


Shetland rams, photographed by Kate Davies

WOVEMBER is about:

* recognising that WOOL is a premium textile which comes from an actual sheep, and that – as such – the terms WOOL, WOOLLY and WOOLLEN should only be applied to real WOOL and not, for instance, to polyester or viscose.

* celebrating the important heritage and contemporary value of WOOL through our 100% WOOL stories, blog posts, pictures, textiles, and garments.

* educating and informing the wider public of the wondrous qualities of WOOL.

* creatively pushing the idea that the word WOOL should refer to sheep’s WOOL only.

*reconnecting the idea of WOOL to the animals and people involved in its creation and manufacture.

* campaigning for a clarification of trading standards to prevent further misuse of the term WOOL.

To involve yourself with WOVEMBER, you can:

* endeavour to wear as MUCH WOOL AS POSSIBLE throughout the month of WOVEMBER, and tell everyone about the unique qualities of WOOL.

* sign the WOVEMBER PETITION to support changes to textile trading standards and product descriptions.

* TALK ABOUT WHAT WOOL MEANS TO YOU throughout WOVEMBER on your blogs, sites, facebook pages, twitter feeds, and other social media.

* PUBLICISE WOVEMBER by sharing our button (below) and linking to this site.

* send us WOVEMBER stories about sheep, wool, knitting, weaving or other endeavours which celebrate WOOL in all its sheepy glory!

* Enter the WOVEMBER COMPETITION by sending us a 100% wool photograph for the WOVEMBER gallery. (Fabulous 100% WOOL prizes are on offer!)

* Have fun.

Please download and redistribute this image or contact us at wovember@gmail. com with specific pixel dimensions if you require a different shape or size of image!

44 thoughts on “About

  1. Kate, I’d love to post your button to my blog, but I’m not sure how to do it. Could you share some instructions or post a link to some more information. I think Wovember is a fantastic idea, another great reason to celebrate wonderful wool.

    • Hi, to use our button on your blog, simply right click and hit “Save As” then save the image and upload as per usual to your blog. Hope that helps! If you are using a Mac it might be different…

  2. Kate and Felix, well done on starting this campaign. I have always worn natural fibres, and I believe that it is important to make sure everybody who shops for clothes (and other fabric items) knows what they are actually made of, so they can make an informed decision on buying garments. And as evidenced by the above sweater, even something fabricated from man-made fibres can be expensive and I’m sure that it would not cost more to make the same jumper in 100% animal fibre, or indeed, WOOL.

  3. Kate and Felix, hurrah for Wovember! I will celebrating it in all its sheepy, woolly goodness. I think it is excellent to promote the amazing quality of wool and the link between garment and producer in days when so much serves to alienate people from how things are made. I am a full supporter of 100% wool.

  4. This is wonderful. It feels like there’s a reason I was born in Wovember. Bravo, bravo, bravo (wearing wool as I say this, and I didn’t even PLAN to wear wool, I just WAS wearing wool).

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  6. My first Wovember related post is up! I have shared the Wovember button, donned woolly socks as an alternative to lighting a fire, am knitting with merino yarn, even the paint colour we have just chosen for the study is called Lambs Wool (how could I resist!). Brilliant project Kate And Felix :D

  7. Such fun to link you to my site. Love participating as much as possible. Our daughter has been clad in wool ever since she was born. Except for Summer that is. It is not only very convenient it also looks gorgeous, even if I say so myself. It has an air of “old-fashioned” (in a nice way!) to it. Maybe I can get a picture of her wear for wovember.

    Just knitting her a hat with what is left over from my Tantallon and Caller Herrin’ hats. My first stranded design, makes me bow all over again to you Kate!! And Felix, your badge machine was a great thing to get!

    So much reading and looking to do here, lovely!

    Jo

    • We think this is a fantastic idea! At Knit-Wise in Ormskirk we’re going to get behind it 100% We’re doing a 100% wool window and wearing our badges with pride.

  8. I think the name choice is very poor. It strikes me that you’re riding on the back of the already existing Movember charity which was set up to raise the profile of testicular and prostate cancer among men.

    This alone is enough to put me off what you’re attempting to do.

    • Hi Ra,

      I’m sorry you feel that way, and that you haven’t left a web-address for me to follow up.

      “WOVEMBER” was chosen as a name because it sounds a bit like WOVEN (which is the construction of many WOOLLEN TEXTILES) and because we decided to launch it IN NOVEMBER. This was not intended at all to clash with the MOVEMBER campaign but rather to raise awareness regarding the product descriptions for garments being sold on the High Street.

      I think most people can tell the difference between MOVEMBER and WOVEMBER, and if people want to simultaneously grow moustaches and celebrate 100% WOOL this month, then there is no conflict of interests at all.

  9. Admire the sentiment but all the capslock is making my BRAIN HURT. if you could tone it down it’d be MUCH APPRECIATED.

    thanks, :)

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  21. I agree with you about natural animal fibres, and sheep will always continue to be the primary source thereof, but why the sectarianism towards the wool of goats (cashmere, mohair etc), of the angora rabbit and of all the South American wool-producing critters, some of which keep us very warm indeed?

    Though of course the source animal should always be indicated.

    I know rabbit hair will never have the strength of sheep’s wool, but it can make very warm comfy hats, including one of my favourite bérets…

    • For us it’s not so much about “sectarianism” towards other animal fibres, but recognition that sheep’s WOOL is unique. Also, we feel that it devalues cashmere, mohair, alpaca etc. and fibre from the angora rabbit to just generally describe them as “WOOL” when they in fact have their own cachet value and unique qualities… I think the source animal should – as you say – always be indicated. That’s all this is about!

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  23. Hi I’m just wondering about your definition of wool, wool is defined as:
    The fine, soft, curly hair that forms the fleece of sheep and certain other animals…

    But is sound like you only want sheep wool to be called wool, I agree that synthetic and semi synthetic fibers should not be mislabeled as wool, but angora, alpaca, cashmere and camel as well as sheep wool are all different kinds of wool aren’t it?

    • The reason why we specifically focus on wool is because those fibres you list: angora, alpaca, cashmere and camel are commonly seen as luxury fibres. When a garment is made of one of these fibres, then it will proudly be labelled as such, and usually have a price tag to match. We at Wovember feel that these types of fibre already have a good name for themselves, and don’t need any clarification. The High Street will make sure that if something is made from angora, alpaca, cashmere or camel that this is their unique selling point. When I say I have a woollen garment, you would not expect the label to read “made from 100% alpaca.” Conversely, we at Wovember would like to see that if a retailer says that a garment is wool, that the label would say “made from 100% wool.”

      However, currently garments made from synthetic fibres, or which only have a very low (sheep) wool content in their blend will still be marketed to make consumers believe they are made from 100% wool, whereas they are not. We believe this devalues sheep wool, for the reasons stated above. I hope this clarifies why we decided to focus on wool being from sheep only.

      • Thank you for the reply, I think that sense I liv in a seasonal climate with temperatures down to about -30ºC (-22F) every winter, where most people appreciate 100% wool this issue isn’t as prominent her even if it occur. No one expects acrylic to be warm and therefor they are aware of the content.

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