Baa baa who?

I got alerted, OK, alerted is slightly too strong an expression to a BBC article by Elisabeth Mahy. The article was published two days ago and I probably overlooked it. Yet, it is a shame I did, so better late than never. The article called ‘Sheep wool ‘barely worth selling any more’’ is a weird one, well, it is not really weird, but it comes across weird. Wool is an essential fabric in our lives and has been for generation. Suits are made of it, Tweed has its foundation in wool, as do many other forms of clothing and the idea that 8 billion re quire clothing gives a rather noticeable rise in the required availability of wool. It reminded me of Ghandi (Ben Kingsley) giving us the state of India and that setting “thus Mahatma Gandhi started spinning himself and encouraging others to do so. He made it obligatory for all members of the Indian National Congress to spin cotton themselves and to pay their dues in yarn. He further made the chakri (spinning wheel) the symbol of the Nationalist movement.” I remember seeing it in the cinema, I would state that I preferred to see it with my own eyes, but I am not THAT old, this happened a long time ago and the movie made it stick for me. So why are we all in the Commonwealth not in a state of supporting the need for wool? As I become aware of: “Wool’s popularity has been in decline since the 1950s – and this year, coronavirus has added problems that businesses can ill afford. The global wool market closed in February. This has led to vast volumes of wool lying unsold in depots and has pushed prices down.” I see the impact of the exploitation and pressures of big business. Why is wool under such scrutiny? I still hope that I will be able to afford myself and actual Tweed, although, in Australia there is merely the midwinter when that stuff is functional (it is really too warm here for Tweed), but that situation is less of an issue in the UK and Canada (Commonwealth) or Scandinavia for example. Why are we not looking into pushing the need for wool? If my memory serves me, clothing is required almost everywhere and pretty much all the time, so why is wool ‘out of favour’? I get that wool at times is slightly too warm in places, but we also require blankets (most of the time), high end carpets are often made from wool, so I feel that there is a cog missing. Now, I might miss the cog because I do not have wool on the brains all the time, but when I read “Farmers used to be able to pay a year’s rent from the price of wool, but it’s barely worth selling anymore.” I feel the misalignment. When I look around I see “wool carpets can range from $140 to $500”, as well as the idea the suits still cost a few pennies, with a population at the size it is, my mind is still wondering why wool is under such pressure. 

I can understand that the covid situation makes selling temporary harder, but the article seems to press on a much larger station, and it partially baffles me. Yes, we know that it is about what the market demands, but there is a growing concern that wool is kept off the consideration list for other reasons. We can point fingers and make claims left, right and centre, but I am not sure if there is a clear reason, or one that I am not aware of. From my personal side I have suits (or had them), and I never looked down on wool, at times aware that it is not the cheapest stuff, but whatever you buy in wool tends to last, so you have something worth buying, so when I read “it’s barely worth selling anymore”, I personally remain puzzled. So when I read “Each farmer’s costs are different, but in Gerallt’s case, it doesn’t make financial sense selling the wool this year.” I wonder how we failed to this degree and “I’m not going to spend 30p on packing [a fleece] to get 24p back” really does not help. The article (at leaves me with a lot of questions. And that is long before you consider that the packing material is valued higher than the wool, how could we fail an industry producing a needed substance like wool to this degree? And overall the statement “British Wool is currently storing 14 million kg of wool in its depots” does not help any, as I personally see it, this is not due to the Coronavirus (it will have an impact, but not to this degree), so what are the players in all this ad why can we not increase the need for wool, so that one industry is not a lamb chop away from existence? 

It is a stretch from the state we had in our childhood (well, mine at least)

Which was 

And has become:
Baa, baa, black sheep

Have you any wool?

Yes, sir, yes, sir

Three bags full

One for the master

And one for the dame

One for the little boy

Who lives down the lane

Baa, baa, black sheep

Have you any wool?

Yes, sir, yes, sir

Thousands of tonnes

the master and the dame

Want none to claim 

And the boy down the lane

Wants cotton that is plain

I personally believe that as we looked and listened to those telling us what was fashion, the view on wool moved to rear, we can state that this is how the world turns, and that remains true, I merely wonder how an industry was pushed out of existence, not that fact that it happened, but that it happened under my own view and I never realised it. So what else did we miss? What did we lose without taking notice? My mind wanders around the room, on what might be added when we add wool, and apart from a plaid on the sofa and a new blanket I honestly do not see it, on the other hand, why are we not pursuing new fashions with wool? We can twist and turn in any direction, but the fact remains, when the material that never stopped being useful is no longer needed and that it is worth less than its packing material, that is not a good thing. We might want to blame ourselves, but is that fair? Can we blame anyone? Let’s be honest, when was the last time you went out to buy gramophone needles? Some articles are deleted due to evolution, I get that, but on the whole side of it, I never expected that wool would get there and that is weird, apart from the small issue that it is worth less than packing materials. 

It will take some time to get over an invoice that reads 1 wool fleece $0.02, packing $0.25, postage $4.99 total due $5.26.


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