As fans of agriculture and wool-growing will know, everything has its time and its season…
And that includes WOVEMBER.
In 2011 when we first established this project there were far fewer produces of traceable, sustainable 100% wool yarns than exist now; the political landscape was pretty different; and the creators of the site were several years younger. Collectively and over the past seven Wovembers we have produced and curated hundreds of articles about wool covering all its aspects. We have explored its connections to history, culture, politics, sustainability and self care; we have explored it through a multitude of lenses; and we have campaigned for its recognition as a superlative and vital textile with links to human wellbeing on all levels. We submitted our petition to the European Parliament; challenged the Campaign for Wool to be more inclusive; and managed all the social media channels for this website. We are really proud of the work we have done.
We have learnt an enormous amount about wool; we have worked with our friends whose daily bread is wool; we have shared books and projects that celebrate and promote wool; and we have worn masses of wool every year in celebration of Wovember. One of us even got married in wool in order to share the joy and depth of the work done here with family, friends and community.
We have loved it all.
However, we’ve reached a point where we can’t do it anymore. Sustainability – which has always been a key focus for our celebrations of wool – begins at home. We both realised, last Wovember, that the resources needed to produce another year of amazing woolly content were in really short supply. With the help of our friends and guest curators, we managed and produced a month of posts on all topics concerning wool’s relationship to mental and physical wellness, in addition to the wellness of community, land, locale and environmental. All the while, both of us were struggling to sustain our own health and wellbeing. The irony of overworking our bodies and minds in order to promote wellbeing was not lost on us.
However much we love Wovember – and we do really love Wovember – and however much we enjoy the conversations it creates with you – it’s time for us both to step back from the full time production work involved in putting on a monthly celebration each year. This doesn’t mean that WOVEMBER is over completely… but it will be different, going forward, and how we celebrate wool each Wovember in the future is really in your hands.
BE THE CHANGE FOR WOOL THAT YOU WANT TO SEE
Remember this? This was the motto we started here a couple of years ago, and the call to action we raised in our year when our Wovember theme explored The Politics of Wool.
The most exciting things – and the actions that have sustained this website for so long – are not just the content that exists on this site, but the projects and activism that have grown around and out of it. Kate Davies – one of the co-founders of Wovember – is now a wool merchant in her own right, creating new products and patterns that utilise wool’s amazing properties while also creating jobs in her community and reflecting meaningfully on the politics of manufacture; Tom van Deijnen who joined us for several years here continues conversations of the value of labour, wool, skill, mending and textiles in his incredibly beautiful and thoughtful creative mending practice (and if you haven’t read this blog post about the ultimate slow fashion project we suggest you do so right now…); Felicity Ford has published three books that draw on the specific suitability of Shetland wool for stranded colourwork; while Louise Scollay has over 100 glorious podcasts under her belt through which the appreciation and love of wool runs like a golden seam. Beyond how WOVEMBER has impacted on those of us who have managed this site, however, exists the vast, collective, unquantifiable magic of YOUR involvement and contributions. Yes YOU, wearing your woolly outfits, telling your friends about Wovember, sharing our posts, signing our petition, wearing your woolly badges, scrutinising the labeling practices of corporations, examining the fibre contents of your wardrobe, and making utterly, utterly magnificent work that in itself is a political statement on the value and beauty of WOOL. YOU ARE THE FUTURE OF WOVEMBER!
November will always be #Wovember. We hope that you will still use the month on social media to tell your own woolly stories, bang your own woolly tambourine on your own woolly soapbox and wear all your woollies. Just because there will be no new posts here doesn’t mean that you need to stop celebrating wool in Wovember on social media, online and in real life.
We are all responsible for changing the woolly world. There are always going to be wool, wool people and wool businesses who need to be elevated, advocated for and supported… And there are always our own woolly stories and adventures to share. We can all be part of that, using our own corners of the world and of the Internet to stage mini celebrations. Tomorrow we’ll publish a post about the ways in which you can still take part in your own Wovember campaigns and celebrations.
We have no plans to produce Wovember in its old format for the foreseeable future. However, we most certainly plan to maintain and update this website, to export all of the old posts from the archive into the same style; to update broken links and broken images; to make the contents here more searchable; and to keep Wovember.com up and online as a resource. We are always surprised and delighted to see how well-read the blog is outwith the month of November. A lot of love and labour has gone into making wovember.com an amazing information source and we are committed to maintaining it for the foreseeable future.
We can’t end Wovember without recognising the folks who have been integral to the founding and continuation of this campaign.
JENI REID – our wool photographer EXTRAORDINAIRE – needs a special mention.
We could do a blog post just featuring all of the images she has contributed to Wovember over the years and, in the last few years, she’shared amazing woolly images each time she’s taken over the @Wovemberwool Instagram account.
Jeni’s eye for woolly detail is beautifully attuned and Wovember has hugely benefited from her amazing photos and support. Some of our most memorable woolly images are photos taken by her… you can’t argue with a leaping ram! Thank you, Jeni!
In terms of content for this site, the list of people to thank is very, very long. Over the years many folks have sent us stories, photos, emails, information, links and articles and we are massively thankful to you all.
However some folks deserve a special shout out; these are comrades to watch if you are interested in finding other woolly ventures to support and follow on social media when you need a woolly fix!
Jane Cooper of Woolsack is an amazing woolly ambassador in her own right, and a long-term supporter of our work here. Thank you, Jane! We also need to give a woolly hi-five to all our friends at Jamieson & Smith who have provided prizes for Wovember many times and who have supported this site since it began. J&S are an amazing woolly company and they have generously shared their wool knowledge and stories with us over the years. Thank you, Jamieson & Smith!
Some of our other friends who work with wool include everyone at Blacker Yarns – especially Sonja Bargielowska, who helped us so much when she was there – and of course the company founder, Sue Blacker. Sue has written some fantastic content for this site and has been an enthusiastic contributor to, and warm supporter of, our work; Blacker Yarns have also provided many prizes for Wovember. Thank you, Sue, and Blacker Yarns!
Many of our years have benefited from glorious sheepy stories from the author of Punkin’s Patch – Sara Dunham. Sara has done so much over the years to bring producers and consumers of wool together, through her extremely appealing and heart-warming sheepy stories. Thank you for sharing the tales (tails?) of your flock with us, Sara.
Thanks also to our amazing guest curators from last year.
Louise Spong is doing really thoughtful work in the South Downs landscape where she lives. She is reviving a long and localised shepherding tradition and bringing the wool of South Downs Sheep back into the hands of knitters. We loved her series of posts last year exploring wool, wellness and place. Thank you, Louise!
Our friend, comrade and fellow wool-activist Paula Wolton continues to do amazing work with her touring woolly shepherd’s hut AKA One Hut Full. Last year, she curated a glorious series of posts exploring woolness and the land… Thank you, Paula!
Emma Ross was also a guest curator last year and she wrote some really thoughtful and positive pieces about woolness and the individual. We love how she explored the social and mental health benefits of being part of the woolly world. Thank you, Emma!
We also have to thank our wonderful friends Allison and Rachel at Yarn In The City for putting together a beautiful set of prompts for exploring the concept of woolness on instagram through the month of Wovember last year. They put their own spin on woolness, making the concept of Wovember really accessible and snuggly and comforting and fun, and we loved what they did with it. Thank you, Yarn In The City!
Finally, THANK YOU!
Thank you for all you have done – for sharing, following, and contributing to all the content here. Thank you for being a part of Wovember, for being passionate about wool; for getting angry when you needed to; for signing the Wovember petition and for mobilising with hashtags and campaigning with us. Thank you for taking part in the Wovember WAL and our photograph competitions. Thank you to everyone who ever donated or won a Wovember prize (and well done too!) And thanks to everyone who sent us emails and messages about how much you enjoyed Wovember, and to everyone who has asked us “What can I do?” over the years. We are so grateful and so glad to have shared Wovember with you!
As this post goes live we shall be cracking open a celebratory beer and raising a toast to what has been a really amazing adventure and, to be frank, an absolute shit ton of work. We have done it all for nothing more than an honest love of wool and we hope you’ll drink to that with your beverage of choice, wherever it is that you are. We know some of you will be disappointed to hear that we’re not going to run Wovember as we have done in the past… but we’ll be thinking ahead to how we might take what we’ve learnt here forward in new ways and we warmly invite you to do the same. We plan to knit with wool, wear more wool, make more woolly badges and buttons and read up on wool this Wovember.
How will you celebrate? Do stay tuned for tomorrow’s final final post for some suggestions!
YOURS IN THE LOVE OF WOOL,
Felix & Louise xxx