Better knitting: How Raincloud & Sage turns unused wool into organic yarn
Are you looking for a new hobby for the lockdown? The social startup Raincloud & Sage rescues unused wool – and helps you support local shepherds.
If you’ve ever done any crafting or baking, you know how much fun it can be to create things from scratch. Knitting is no different. This timeless hobby with a long tradition also has health benefits. Knitting with its repetitive, rhythmic movements has a calming effect that is similar to meditation. An ideal occupation for the presently nevertheless in many places very worn-out mind.
The wool yarn used for knitting, however, is regarded in this country rather as a waste product and is not sufficiently valued. Especially wool from smaller flocks of sheep often finds no buyers and often ends up in the (special) garbage. Even if shepherds want to resell their wool, it is difficult to sell, as it has little or no value on the international wool market. This is a real problem because wool is always produced in sheep farming, as sheep usually have to be shorn once or twice a year. Thus, one sheep alone “produces” about 15 balls of wool per year.
Wool often comes from untraceable, unethical sources
Currently, it is common practice to import knitting yarn from elsewhere. It is simply cheaper to use wool from larger flocks of sheep and have it industrially processed in other countries such as Turkey or China. Due to various production steps, it is difficult to trace the exact origin of the wool.
White wool from large flocks of sheep is in particular demand, which can be dyed as desired in the next step. Wool from black sheep is not used and is discarded; it is better to dye white wool black afterward. Unusual types of wool also fall through the cracks in the international market.
In contrast, there is a growing number of people in the knitting community who are wondering where their knitting yarn originally came from. They are increasingly frustrated with the small local supply, which is difficult to find.
Raincloud & Sage rescues wool from small flocks of sheep in Germany
Raincloud & Sage offers an ideal solution to this very problem with its sustainable knitting yarn. The Marburg-based company rescues unused wool from small flocks of sheep in the region to produce sustainable knitting yarn from traceable sources. In doing so, the company is involved in every step of the process – from sourcing and buying directly from local shepherds* to delivering the wool to small spinning mills in the region to packaging and shipping.
The company was founded in 2017 by Ruth Werwai, who is originally from Canada and previously spent years writing about her emigration, her first impressions of Marburg, and her great passion for knitting on her eponymous blog. There are many sheep in Marburg, and in her search for knitting yarn from the region, Ruth quickly got into conversation with the local sheep farmers. They, too, did not really know what to do with the surplus wool that accumulates every year.
Wool from black sheep is welcome at Raincloud & Sage
Today, Raincloud & Sage pays the sheep farmers a fair price for their wool and has it processed into knitting yarn in spinning mills in the region. Wool from black sheep is also welcome. Even unusual wool that is not usually used for knitting, such as that of the East Frisian milk sheep, is put to good use. The result is a rustic, “sheep-like” knitting yarn that is ideal for sweaters, hats, or gloves, for example.
Low water consumption and dyeing with eco-friendly dyes
Ruth only sources wool from shepherds she has visited herself and where an appropriate animal husbandry is ensured. In addition to saving the wool from the dustbin, she also pays attention to ecological aspects in cooperation with the local spinning mills: When washing the wool, care is taken to use as little water as possible, and only ecologically certified or vegetable dyes are used in the dyeing process.
While Raincloud & Sage was originally conceived as more of a side project, the company grew naturally and shortly afterward became a real full-time job. Raincloud & Sage has been able to save a total of 1,000 kilograms of wool from the garbage can since it was founded. Five unique batches of knitting yarn have been created in collaboration with local wool spinners. The entire collection can be purchased online or in selected stores.
In the future, the Marburg-based company hopes to expand into other regions, collaborate with more collectives, and find meaningful uses for more unusual types of wool. Thus, the production of knitting yarn with alpaca wool is planned soon.
High-quality content for end customers
Thankfully, Raincloud & Sage also takes over the marketing of the knitting balls in the final step – something the producers tend not to have time for. With an appealing online presence, the company makes its high-quality knitting yarn accessible to a wide audience. Founder Ruth Werwai can draw on her years of expertise as a blogger. Today, customers can be inspired by great content on the blog, which also always focuses on sustainability.
Dr. Andreas Renner, Co-Founder GOOD: firstname.lastname@example.org