Innovation in colouration!

Innovation in colouration!

Wool is a natural fibre that has been used for centuries to make clothing, blankets, and other household items. It is durable, comfortable, and sustainable, making it a popular choice for eco-conscious consumers. One of the biggest challenges we have when working with wool is finding ways to make sure it is as sustainable as possible. 

The traditional wool dyeing process can be harmful to the environment due to the use of synthetic dyes and chemicals to bring colour to the wool. The industry typically uses acid dyes in combination with citric acid and hot water. Most of the harmful (to us) dyes have banned from use in the UK and Europe. However, that doesn't mean they are harmless to the environment and direct-to-river discharge is surprisingly common in the UK.

Loom and Power is focusing on a research project to revolutionise how we dye wool. This project will look to eliminate or reduce water use and move away from slow and energy intensive batch-dyeing of yarn. 

In the meantime, f you're interested in using wool but want to make sure your purchases are environmentally friendly, here are some ways to find sustainably dyed wool.

1.Look for products that are certified by organizations such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or the Organic Content Standard (OCS). These certifications ensure that the wool has been produced using environmentally and socially responsible practices, including the use of natural dyes and chemicals that are safe for both workers and the environment.

2. Consider wool that has been naturally dyed using plant-based materials. Many plants, such as indigo, madder, and woad, contain pigments that can be used to dye wool a variety of colours. Natural dyes tend to be more muted and subtle than synthetic dyes, but they are also non-toxic and biodegradable.

3. If you're a DIY type, you can also try dyeing your own wool using natural materials. This can be a fun and rewarding project, and it allows you to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. There are many resources available online with instructions on how to dye wool using natural materials. I would recommend The Wild Dyer by Abigail Booth.

4. Naturally coloured wool such as Herdwick and Jacobs does not need dyeing to look fantastic. 

5. Investigate alternative means of colouration such as digital printing with acid dye inks. This technology uses only a fraction of the water and energy use of batch dyeing. It is typically used on full width fabric so you lose some of the design aspects you gain from weaving. 

In conclusion, there are several options for finding sustainably dyed wool but we are looking to push the science further.  Look for products that are certified by organizations such as GOTS or OCS, or choose wool that has been naturally dyed using plant-based materials. You can also try dyeing your own wool using natural materials for a fun and rewarding project. By choosing sustainably dyed wool, you can enjoy the many benefits of this natural fibre while also doing your part to protect the environment.

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