The way forward for WOOLUME

As the Woolume project comes to an end after three and a half fruitful years, a new project note has been published.

Economics and scale are important themes, especially for moving forward with better use of local wool. As identified in other projects, things need to happen in the right order and there must be an economic fundament that ensures a professionalism and not that what one does is done on a hobby basis. The skills gap is an important issue if there is to be a future for the wool industry in Europe, and this must be addressed at national and EU level, this is not something a project or industry can fix on their own.

WOOLUME has been a bilateral project with only two countries involved, and few project-partner institutions. Usually projects involve more countries, many more institutions and therefore also are ’messier’ in the way that one needs to involve all actors in several research questions and WPs. On the other hand, the research in more complexly structured projects is often more limited and must stick to one problem-definition in order to make the project doable.

If we are going to be scaling textile industry in Europe, based on our local resources and better use of them, many things must happen at the same time. One is that those who grant money for research must be aligned with the planetary boundaries and with making a positive impact for planet, people and animals. The zealots also must have room to ‘play’ outside the strict confinements of complex EU funding, which most probably must be backed by national governments, who see the value of being self-sufficient not only when it comes to food, but also for textiles.


This note looks at knowledge transference between a country of high wool utilisation (Norway) and a country of low wool utilisation (Poland). The findings that are presented here, are collected through semi-structured interviews, via Zoom, in person and also with one written response. All interviewees were project partners. Economics and scale are important themes, especially for moving forward with better use of local wool. As identified in other projects, things need to happen in the right order and there must be an economic fundament that ensures a professionalism and not that what one does is done on a hobby basis. The skills gap is an important issue if there is to be a future for the wool industry in Europe, and this must be addressed at national and EU level, this is not something a project or industry can fix on their own.

Click here to read full report.

Woolume coming to its voluminous end

“Will I have to change my sheep?” was the first question Piotr Kohut had asked when the Center for Regional Produce in Koniaków was asked to be a partner in the Woolum bilateral project financed by Norway grants. The respect for keeping the sheep happy prevailed, and the project has amazing results, including a high-hanging award that recognized this as a ‘project for the future’.

The change from the first time the Woolume-team visited Koniaków, was marked. The products were more varied and more professionally displayed, and the optimism for the future virtually popped out of the walls. “We now know that what we have here for sale, also the wool, is 100% from our sheep. It has been a struggle, but now we are confident that we can deliver on this,” said Maria Kohut, who has been a powerhouse in the project.

The Center for Regional Produce in Koniaków, where we ended the conference.

It was the Beskid mountains that was the setting for the end-seminar, and through the network of Norway-grant projects (including the Portuguese hiWool project and the Polish craft school from Zamek Cieszyn), the plus-factor of meeting across disciplines and projects was exponential. As an end-exercise for the seminar, the Norwegian partners arranged a workshop on knowledge-transfer and ways forward, which garnered enthusiasm and ideas for further projects and cooperation, also with countries that so far have not – in a wool context – been blessed with Norway grant funding. Slovakia being one and long-overdue.  

There were more ‘hands-on’ workshops as well, related to the local lace-tradition that met us in every window in the small town, and even painted in large scale on house-walls. Maria Kohut’s take was to transfer this traditionally very delicate technique to wool and thus other applications.

The local lace traditions are very strong, and manifest themselves in local women producing lace, a local artist, Beata Legierska, who finds new and innovative ways of using lace in art and jewelry, and more.

When it came to applications, though, the whole work around fertilizing the soil with wool, using wool that has no use in other areas as mats and pellets for gardens, pots, city roofs, deserted open sores in the landscape from mining – the list seemed endless and so promising that any urban planner or someone trying to restore landscapes should be inspired. A visit to a local upstart company reinforced the impression: This area for development will be a major force in the future use of problematic wool that is currently burned, including shavings from skin and leather tanning.

Using wool for its best purposes rather than manipulating the market, the breeds or other things that compromise the well-being of the sheep was a recurring theme, and a major learning point from both earlier Norwegian wool projects and Woolume. The detailed testing from the Estonian-Norwegian bilateral project underpinned this (also under Norway grants), and there is now a comprehensive database to back this on all in all six sheep breeds. Much of the research in Woolume has also centered around the ‘best use’, so these two projects have major cross-pollination.

Wool pellets and wool that was used in experiments as fertilizer.

Revisiting the whole backdrop for the Woolume project, but also the local very dense and complicated history which in the past had delivered a rich cultural and economically viable industry that had made marks internationally, brings forward a lot of things to discuss in the light of EU’s textile strategy. The tapestry of history, economy and cultural elements that have shaped this for better or worse, is further described in Local, Slow and Sustainable Fashion: Wool as a Fabric for Change.

The proud Woolume team, from left Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Lisbeth Løvbak Berg, Katarzyna Kobiela-Mendrek, Monika Rom, Damian Chmura, Andrzej Gawlowski, Anna Salachna, Jan Broda, Ingvild Espelien and Maja Espelien. In front, from left Tone Skårdal Tobiasson and Maria Kohut.

With pride, Jan Broda who has led the project successfully for three years, told the conference that Woolume has been awarded a major Laureate prize, more specifically the Polish Smart Development Award in the category “Project of the Future”, from the Polish Intelligent Development Forum Foundation, Center for Intelligent Development. This is the reason cited for the prize: “for the achievements of the project, which may result in a positive impact on social and economic development. The award is granted for an open approach to promotion and communication with society, in order to present the importance of the benefits resulting from the implemented solution, and an attitude focused on actively maintaining a positive and interesting image of Polish science and research and development works.” Bravo!

Productive project publishes again

The scientific article Sound Absorption of Tufted Carpets Produced from Coarse Wool of Mountain Sheep has been published in Journal of Natural Fibers. The article is co-authored by Jan Broda, Katarzyna Kobiela-Mendrek, Marcin Bączek, Monika Rom and Ingvild Espelien, and is an important contribution to the study of wool’s properties.

As part of the ongoing research in the WOOLUME project, looking at good utilization of coarse Polish mountain wool, is an important exploration. Tufting is a technique with cut and loop piles and to which degree this technique used on coarse wool can contribute to sound absorbing properties is interesting to study.

Some tufting history

Wool from Polish mountain sheep is coarse, highly differentiated both in thickness and length and contains a significant content of medullated fibers and kemp. Despite its poor characteristics, the wool can be used for the production of rag yarns fit for pile carpets with tufting technique. The carpets possess acceptable sound absorbing capacity comparable to other similar products obtained from other wool types, which is dependent on both pile types and their parameters.

The hand tufting technique was invented at the end of the nineteenth century in Dalton (Georgia, USA) where it was first applied for handicraft production of bedspreads, mats, and bathrobes. The technique involves stitching the yarn into the backing fabric to create a loop, cut, or mixed piles. Loop piles are formed when the yarn inserted is caught by loopers and pulled through the backing to a set length. Cut piles are formed by cutting the piles at their maximum length, with blades operating in tandem with the loopers. In the 1930s, a modified single-needle commercial sewing machine was adopted for tufting. The machine enabled tufting of thick yarn into muslin without tearing the fabric and was coupled with a knife to cut the loops.

Further development

In the next few years, tufting machines with four, then eight, twenty-four, or more needles enabling the formation of parallel rows were constructed. Machines were introduced to the industrial practice, which soon resulted in the rapid growth of the mechanized tufting industry. After the second world war, in the 1950s, tufting machines were getting more and more common and were equipped with several hundred needles to stitch hundreds of pile yarn rows. In the next years, tufting dominated carpet manufacturing. It is estimated that nowadays, tufting is a common technique widely used for the production of 90% of the carpets available in the market. The introduction of the tufting technique on a large scale coincided with the development of new synthetic fibers. Application of these fibers significantly accelerated the growth of carpet production. The new yarns, continuous filament nylon yarns in particular, provided good quality and high durability of carpets at a relatively low price, out-performing wool as the raw-material with a much cheaper price point.

Wool carpets used as floor coverings and interior decorations offer additional considerable advantages in terms of thermal insulation and heat balance in buildings. Moreover, such carpets are highly effective in controlling indoor noise and reducing the reverberation of sound. Carpets are some of the most versatile sound-absorbing materials which absorb both airwave sounds and reduce surface noise generation. Additionally, carpets reduce the impact of sound transmission between stories in multi-storied buildings.

Detailed characterization

In our previous studies, the acoustic performance of felt and fabrics manufactured from Polish mountain sheep wool was analyzed. The investigations showed that the wool of mountain sheep, which is often disregarded and treated as a waste product of sheep husbandry, is a valuable raw material that can be used to produce carpets and panels with good sound-absorbing properties. The paper presents the results of further studies on the utilization of coarse wool obtained from mountain sheep to produce rag yarns suitable for the production of pile carpets with the tufting technique. During this investigation, the raw wool and yarns were characterized in detail, and the possibility of using yarns in the tufting technique was explored. Then, the sound absorption capacity and transmission loss of the obtained materials in relation to the type of piles, pile height, and density were analyzed.

Conclusion: Apart from their decorative function, carpets produced from Polish mountain sheep wool with the tufting technique can serve as valuable sound absorbing material to lessen noise, reduce reverberation, and improve the acoustic comfort of the room.

Access to the full article is provided in this link.

This research was funded by the Norway Grant titled “Polish sheep wool for improved resource utilisation and value creation.” NOR/POLNOR/WOOLUME/0007/2019

Winter wheat + wool pellets work well

It turns out that Polish mountain sheep wool can be successfully used as a nitrogen-rich, organic fertilizer in organic farming. This enables utilization of coarse wool, which is not suitable for textile processing, to be used and lead to zero-waste from wool shearing.

“Utilisation of waste wool from mountain sheep as fertiliser in winter wheat cultivation” is the title of an study from the University of Bielsko-Biala published in the Journal of Natural Fibers, Volume 20 Issue 2. Authors are all part of the WOOLUME project, Jan Broda, Monika Rom, Andrzej Gawlowski and Katarzyna Kobiela-Mendrek.

Coarse wool obtained from mountain sheep has low economic value and is treated as a troublesome by-product of sheep farming. To find ways to utilize it, wool deemed as waste was separated from the better-quality wool during sheep shearing, and used in experiments as a fertilizer in winter wheat cultivation.

During the preliminary tests, it was found that un-scoured wool did not contain excessive amounts of heavy metals or environmentally problematic contaminations, and could therefor safely be used as fertilizer. After this was established, the raw wool was cut into shorter segments and mixed with the soil, and how this influenced winter wheat growth was examined during two seasons.

Simultaneously, the progress of wool biodegradation and the nitrogen content in the soil were analyzed. It was found that, during the growth period, nitrogen compounds are slowly released into the ground, and the content of nitrogen in the soil was closely correlated with the progress of wool biodegradation.

Stems of the winter wheat Kilimandzaro variety grown in plots with different wool content at the end of growing season. With increased wool content, the stems are visibly longer.

Released nitrogen thus positively impacts wheat growth in various stages, which is manifested by higher tillering degree, more intense leaf color, higher stems and finally, greater yield. Wool added into the soil reveals its positive influence on wheat development up to two harvests. Mountain sheep wool can be successfully used as a nitrogen-rich, organic fertilizer in organic farming. This enables utilization of coarse wool, which is not suitable for textile processing, according to the zero-waste strategy.

Field of winter wheat Sacramento variety at the stage of stem elongation with marked plots established in: 1/first year; 2/second year.

Read the full article in Journal of Natural Fibers here (

Double whammy for Clothing Research

Two articles from Clothing Research at Consumption Research Norway have been accepted by the journal Fibers and are accessible online. The two articles are entitled Reducing plastic: Opportunities and obstacles for coarser wool in consumer goods and Natural and sustainable? Consumers’ textile fiber preferences.

More than half of the team in the Clothing Research group have contributed to these two chapters: Kirsi Laitala, Anna Schytte Sigaard (author on both articles), Lisbeth Løvbak Berg and Ingun Grimstad Klepp – the article on reducing plastics is co-authored with three from the University of Bielsko-Biala. In the first article, findings are presented that show that on a product level, the many inherent properties of wool create opportunities for product development and sustainability improvements, and that using coarser wool represents an opportunity for replacing plastics in many applications. This was done using a SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis of results from a desktop study and interviews with producers of products made from wool, as well as policy documents relating to wool, waste, textiles, and plastic.

The second article looks at synthetic vs. natural fibers, consumer preferences, their view on sustainability and more importantly, consumers’ willingness to degrow their consumption. Interestingly, not only do Norwegian consumers prefer wool, they also believe that wool is the most sustainable choice of fiber, with polyester being the least. This is the exact opposite of what today’s most common measuring tool, the Higg Material Sustainability Index, tells us.

A snap-shot from the Higg MSI ranking of fibers, the higher the number, the less sustainable.

This article also offers proof that perceptions of high sustainability regarding fibers are negatively correlated with reduced consumption: “Our study suggests that a continued focus on material substitution and other technological measures for reducing climate change will impede the move toward sustainability in the textile sector.” The article raises the very pertinent question of how the perspectives of techno- and eco-centrism impact Norwegian consumers’ fiber preferences and perceptions, and how does this, in turn, affect their clothing consumption?

Technocentric or eco-centric?

On the one hand, green growth aims to de-couple growth in the textile industry from a reliance on virgin materials by keeping already-produced materials in circulation for as long as possible. In contrast to this technocentric perspective, the eco-centric degrowth narrative holds at its core ideas such as scarcity, reduced consumption, and lifestyle sacrifices at a time of shrinking resources for the Global North. “The eco-centric approach does not disregard technology but holds that we cannot rely solely on new and better technology. Instead, it focuses primarily on behavior change and argues that a paradigm shift is necessary to transform conventional fashion production and consumption.”

The respondents showed a high preference for natural fibers, especially wool, which was preferred by 72% of them, followed by cotton (63%), alpaca (38%), organic cotton (34%), linen (30%), silk (23%), bamboo viscose (22%), viscose (10%), and, finally, synthetics at the bottom of the scale, with polyester being preferred by only two percent, followed by recycled polyester (2%) and acrylic (1%). All the natural fibers were more popular than the manmade ones, and out of the manmade fibers, the synthetics were least popular, even recycled polyester. Almost half of the respondents said that they avoided polyester (47%) and acrylic (46%), and 35% avoided even recycled polyester.

Rebound effect?

Fiber preference was positively correlated with reduced clothing consumption, so that those who preferred more natural fibers had reduced their clothing consumption more than those who preferred synthetic fibers, which is interesting. This fits with the eco-centric perspective of degrowth and reduced consumption. However, it seems that believing that a fiber is sustainable, negatively affects consumption reduction. An explanation for this could be that if the fibers used to produce clothing are considered sustainable, reducing consumption is not necessary, which gives a rebound effect that could be seen as counter-productive, from an eco-centric perspective.

Therefore, consumers’ willingness to reduce consumption is important and may be weakened if the focus continues to be on fibers and materials, instead of reduced production and consumption. Read the article here (

The wool-related article, does, to a certain degree, focus on the raw materials, and replacing one raw material (synthetic) with a natural fiber. To investigate the use of coarse wool, mainly from Polish sheep, product groups that do not require the softness of Merino wool were examined. Many of these products are currently made of plastic, mostly in the form of synthetic fibers. In addition, many of them are single-use, such as sanitary products and plant pots, but also sound-absorbing acoustic panels. The study found that making this switch, is dependent on local infrastructure and working small-scale enterprises. A shift to small-scale and local resource utilization requires systemic change on several levels: Here the findings show that policy can incentivize material usage transitions, but that these tools are little employed currently.

Burial urns in felted wool from a Danish company.

As synthetic textiles are an important, but often forgotten part of the increasing plastic waste problem, this article contributes to lift up innovative ideas to reduce our reliance on fossil-based materials. These textiles contain environmental toxins added during the processing of fiber and fabric, and through microfiber shedding synthetic textiles contribute up to 35% of the released microplastics which have been shown to end up in our lungs, oceans, animals, and even placentas.

SWOT analysis

A common factor is a focus on wool utilization as a waste management process and in non-textile products, rather than using the material in high-value textile products. The different aspects related to the coarse wool, were first placed in the SWOT table, then grouped into themes: Properties and product performance, Price and availability, Sustainability, and Regulations and policy. As common in SWOT analysis, one aspect can be both a positive and a negative aspect, e.g., coarser wool being more labor-intensive to use means that it creates more jobs, but at the same time it makes it more costly, as will be examined in the following.

The findings were divided into internal factors, which define the strengths and weaknesses of the internal environment, in this case, the material itself and its value chain directly, and external factors, defining opportunities and threats, that are determined by the external environment operated in, i.e., the overall market and competition. Efforts to utilize and valorize surplus, coarser wool, range from creating wool powders and keratin, fertilizers, substrates for biogas production, regenerating fibers from waste keratin, slug-repelling wool pellets, insulation, water purification to bio-composites.

The lack of focus on surplus wool

As a by-product, the wool to some extent becomes invisible in that the wool is mainly disposed of on the farms directly and therefore does not enter into any formal waste management system. When the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles does not even mention local wool – or the possibilities that wool and other local EU fibers hold – but discusses local solutions solely as future potential recycling plants, this can be challenged through the results shown in this article.  In order to replace more plastic with wool, different types of wool need to be used where they are best suited. This also raises the question of how much under-utilized or surplus wool is actually out there?

In addition, using the coarse wool represents an opportunity to replace particularly problematic plastic products. The study found that several of the examined products are today mainly made of plastic, including the products where plastic cannot be recycled and therefore represent a waste problem. It is unlikely that all such plastic can be replaced by wool, but it is nevertheless important to develop alternatives and at the same time exploit available natural materials: “It is important to remember that the extensive use of plastic is relatively new in human history and that a range of solutions existed before these products invaded the market.”

To read this article, click here (

Reducing Plastic in Consumer Goods: Opportunities for Coarser Wool

Lisbeth Løvbak Berg, Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Anna Schytte Sigaard, Jan Broda, Monika Rom and Katarzyna Kobiela-Mendrek.


Production and use of plastic products have drastically increased during the past decades and their environmental impacts are increasingly spotlighted. At the same time, coarse wool, a by-product of meat and dairy production, goes largely unexploited in the EU. This paper asks why more coarse wool is not used in consumer goods, such as acoustic and sound-absorbing products, garden products, and sanitary products. This is answered through a SWOT analysis of results from a desktop study and interviews with producers of these products made from wool, as well as policy documents relating to wool, waste, textiles, and plastic. Findings show that on a product level, the many inherent properties of wool create opportunities for product development and sustainability improvements and that using the coarser wool represents an opportunity for replacing plastics in many applications as well as for innovation. This is, however, dependent on local infrastructure and small-scale enterprises, but as such, it creates opportunities for local value chains, value creation, and safeguarding of local heritage. The shift to small-scale and local resource utilization requires systemic change on several levels: Here the findings show that policy can incentivize material usage transitions, but that these tools are little employed currently.

Click here to read the full paper (

Natural and Sustainable? Consumers’ Textile Fiber Preferences

by Anna Schytte Sigaard  and Kirsi Laitala


Textile fibers have become a major issue in the debate on sustainable fashion and clothing consumptionWhile consumers are encouraged to choose more sustainable and circular textile materials, studies have indicated that a reduction in production and consumption has the greatest potential to reduce the total environmental impact. This can be considered an ecocentric perspective with a focus on degrowth as opposed to a technocentric view where new technologies are expected to solve environmental problems while economic growth continues. Based on a survey in Norway (N = 1284), we investigate how the techno- and ecocentric perspectives impact Norwegian consumers’ fiber preferences and perceptions and the corresponding effects on their clothing consumption. We found that the majority of consumers preferred natural fibers compared to synthetic materials. This contradicts current market practices and the recommendations by material sustainability comparison tools such as the Higg Material Sustainability Index (MSI), where many synthetics receive better ratings than natural fibers. We also found that perceptions of high sustainability regarding fibers were negatively correlated with reduced consumption. Our study suggests that a continued focus on material substitution and other technological measures for reducing climate change will impede the move toward sustainability in the textile sector.

Click here to read the full article (

Report from IWTO’s Round Table 2022

There seems to be renewed hope for strong wool and local production. Especially with a focus on regenerative grazing and looking at wool’s possible new (and perhaps old, but forgotten) applications.

Regenerative agriculture was a major topic at the IWTO’s Round Table in Nuremberg, Germany, and the possibility of natural fibers to make a positive contribution to climate sequestration, to biodiversity and to soil health. Heinz Zeller from Hugo Boss, said that by 2030, all natural fibers the fashion brand uses must either be from regenerative agriculture or recycled sources. UK-based Merino farmer Lesley Prior, who is helping to establish a Merino breed in several European countries with sheep that can withstand a varied climate, also spoke a lot about the theme. Prior has worked for many years with small brands in the UK, such as Finisterre. “In England they have very strict rules about what you have to report and measure,” she explained, impressing everyone with her knowledge and passion. “Remember your woolen clothes are carbon stocks,” said Prior, to eager applause.

Andy Caughey, Wool Impact, showed the decline in “strong wool” prices on the international market. (Photo: IWTO/Nickland Media)

For Polish and Norwegian wool, two lectures were of great interest. Andy Caughey, head of Wool Impact in New Zealand, aims to make “strong wool” – i.e. the same wool as Norwegian crossbred wool – “great again”. “Stop looking at the floor,” he said, referring in particular to the wall-to-wall carpets. It is all about finding new and better applications for this wool, alongside carpets and knitting yarns. Wool winter boots are an emerging market, following the footsteps of Allbirds, Kastel and many others. The new company, Wool Impact, is funded by the New Zealand government, and among the examples Caughey showed were wool band-aids (which are biodegradable), sound-absorbing panels, face masks, air filters and nappies and sanitary pads, all in wool and potentially biodegradable if disposed of in the right manner.

New Zealand, unlike Norway, does not have wool subsidies, so the cost of shearing the crossbred sheep is today higher than what the farmer receives for the wool. In connection with the use of wool in wall panels for sound absorption, a company in New Zealand had developed an additive based on a food supplement, to ensure their flame retardancy. Strict requirements for a material that is naturally flame retardant has been a headache for many, including those who supply woolen products to the military, fire brigades, police and aerospace.

Reina Oving, The Knitwit Stable in Holland, has captured the attention of the EU bureaucrats for her innovative use of Dutch wool. (Photo: IWTO/Nickland Media)

Reina Ovinge, from Holland, talked about her local wool project in Holland, The Knitwit Stable. She had worked in the fashion industry for many years, but got tired of the pressure on prices and the constant call for new collections. Although she only has 35 sheep and 35 goats, her work arouses great interest, also among EU bureaucrats, who have visited her set-up. The EU also has agreed to fund a knitting-machine, so that she can now produce clothing and other items on demand. This has led to capsule collection cooperation with Dutch fashion brands such as Scotch & Soda and Humanoid, small collections that command high prices. She has visited both Hillesvåg and Telespinn, she said, for inspiration.

We also heard about French wool (Roquefort cheese would not have had a place on shop shelves without sheep) which is mostly thrown away. France is very much struggling with the lack of a value chain for wool. We also heard about a new grazing project in the USA where the sheep graze in conjunction with solar panels, because the grass under these would otherwise have had to be cut by machines. Here, too, the topic was carbon capture, which Lesley Prior also repeated several times. She believes (but has no proof as of yet) that she is at least carbon neutral on her Tellenby Farm, perhaps even sequestering carbon. In addition, she used a reporting system called “Fair to Nature” which assesses the farm’s contribution to biodiversity every two years. And she isotope-labels the wool so that wherever it ends up, it can be traced back to her. Provenance was also something that several speakers claimed was increasingly important. In New Zealand, there is a labeling scheme that covers both the wool and the meat, New Zealand Farm Assured.

Lesley Prior had a bee in her bonnet about all that should be counted (with all the schemes and bureaucracy governing agriculture), what can be counted… and what actually counts. This is an ever-recurring discussion when it comes to regenerative agriculture, where what everyone can observe (birds chirping, bees buzzing) is probably as important as the measurement of carbon in the soil.

Lesley Prior, who breeds Merino sheep that thrive in Europe, gave one of the most compelling talks. (Photo: IWTO/Nickland Media)

Whether local European wool can be used better was not a major theme during the conference, but it did resurface, and especially related to manufacturing. Nuremberg, with its famous Christmas market in the old town, is Südwolle’s hometown and therefore also the scene of the conference this time, as they were the main sponsor. Südwolle and Schneider are competitors, but at the wool congress both companies agreed that they want more production in Europe, but are struggling to recruit labor.

The topic of whether it is one of the solutions to bring down the enormous increase in production, to move production back to where consumption takes place, rather than a pessimistic belief that we will have a thriving fiber-to-fiber recycling industry in the EU, has only just begun. Interestingly enough, in light of all the arrows pointing down for the apparel industry, in light of rising prices and inflation, there was one industry that was optimistic, and that was the factory machinery manufacturers. They envision that more people than Hugo Boss will knit – and more locally – based on what is called “just-in-time” production.

Ovinge had bought herself a Stoll knitting-machine with EU funding, as mentioned, others will probably follow suit.

Selbu spinning mill’s pivotal role in wool projects

12 years ago, Selbu spinning mill was established, focusing on wool from traditional, Norwegian heritage sheep breeds.

From the beginning, cooperation in projects has been important. Let’s do a deep dive!

Why do Selbu work on projects? Well…. Exchange of competence and skills, development of own competence and skills, new challenges for the employees and because project work is a part of their business plan. Check.

So HOW do they work on projects? They need to be involved in the application process from the outset! Their competencies are: Wool sorting and classifying, processing of wool for project partners, development of new products, testing of new methods in production and courses/workshops covering crafts and skills, as well as excursions to endangered seminatural landscapes, formed by grazing.

In WOOLUME: Selbu’s role is to test the production of a range of products made of wool from the Polish (Carpathian) milk sheep breeds, a wool sorting workshop in the Koniakov mountain village, with the main challenge is to find the best use of coarse wool, exchange of knowledge: traditional farming in cultural landscapes. Here you can read about the last trip to Poland.

Founder, Ingvild Svorkmo Espelien explaining during the Polish WOOLUME Partners visit to Selbu Spinning Mill.
Founder, Ingvild Svorkmo Espelien explaining during the Polish WOOLUME Partners visit to Selbu Spinning Mill.

In hiWool: Selbu’s role is to look at traditional sheep breeds in Norway and Portugal, wool sorting and processes, exchange of competence, also for textile traditions, and finally a knitting challenge with pattern development.

Ingvild and the hiWool team examining Portuguese wool on a visit to Portugal.
Ingvild and the hiWool team examining Portuguese wool on a visit to Portugal.

In the Estonia/Norway cooperation project, Selbu’s role is about wool sorting from traditional sheep breeds in both countries, exchange of experiences and competence, spinning yarn for weaving twill textiles for fulling and feedback from the textile tests, and coordinating education in Estonia and Norway.

Nordenfjeldske Fibershed – Fibershed Norway is Selbu spinning mill’s latest venture. This is a network and cooperation system based on local resources, craft, traditions and farms. This will be part of the development of Fibershed Europe and a chance to build a functional cooperation for sustainable production.

Click here to read more about Selbu spinning mill – in Norwegian (

Wool Seminar – Use to conserve

Seminar, 19th-22nd October 2022, Klæbu and Frøya, Trøndelag, Norway

Selbu Spinning Mill is organising a seminar focusing on the results of some of their ongoing projects. The seminar is co-organised with The University of South-Eastern Norway (USN). We look into the future – for the local use of wool together with some of our project partners.

During 4 days of theory and practice, we dive into the sustainable utilization of local, and often coarse wool. Attendants will learn and discuss the use of local wool in several different countries and for different purposes, depending on the quality of the wool. The seminar includes an exhibition of products connected to the theme and the projects. All wool can be of good quality – for a specific use. The seminar is open to anyone interested in local wool, traditional wool craft, and the use of wool in new products.

Venues/locations: Selbu Spinning Mill, Klæbu, Trondheim, Norway – and Frøya

Day 1 Excursion to the island Frøya, the heather landscape on the west coast of Trøndelag in Mid-Central Norway.

Day 2 starts at Selbu Spinning Mill, then in Vikingveien at Ullverket

Day 3 on Seminarplassen, Festsalen, then at Selbu spinneri

Day 4 Ullverket, then at Selbu spinneri


Wednesday October 19th: Excursion to Frøya

07.00-10.30: We travel by car to Frøya (2hrs 45 min).

10.30: We meet Brit and Ola Vie, at the farm Nerklubben. Ola takes us through the cultural landscapes at the farm, and he tells about the conservation of the heather landscape. Brit shows her products made from yarn spun at Selbu spinneri, of the sheep that grazes in the heather landscape.

12.30: Lunch at Titran, Kjervågsundet, in Ingvild’s fishemans cottage.

13.30: Short walk in the heather landscape around Ingvild’s cottage

14.00-17.00: travel back to Trondheim by car.

Thursday October 20th:

10.00-14.00: Project planning and report for project participants.

17.00-20.00: Hand dyeing short course with Nina Alsborn

Friday October 21st: international cooperation projects on local wool

10.00: Registration and coffee/tea

10.15: Introduction

1030-11.00: Opening lecture: Local, Slow and Sustainable Fashion: Wool as a Fabric for Change, Tone Tobiasson (NICE Fashion), Ingun Grimstad Klepp (SIFO, Oslo Met)

11.00-11.15: Nordenfjeldske Fibershed: The first established Fibershed in Norway Årolija Svedal Jørgensrud and Nina Alsborn

11.15-11.30: ULLDAGA: Local wool in art and architecture in Central Norway” Ina Samdal, PhD Candidate in architecture, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim

11.30 -12.00: Ave Matsin and colleagues: Presentation of the Estonian-Norwegian cooperation wool project: results from Estonia – spinning, textiles, fiber and textile report, state of the art concerning local wool in Estonia (title, names of lecturers, time needed etc is to be clarified)

12.00-12.30: Eli Wendelbo, USN, and selected students: Presentation of the Estonian-Norwegian cooperation wool project: Results from Norway, – weaving and walking of the wool textiles.

12.30-13.30: Lunch

13.30-14.00: Results from WOOLUME, Poland: Jan Broda and colleagues, University of Bielsko-Biala

14.00-14.30: Results from Hiwool, Portugal: Mafalda and colleagues

14.30-15.00: Ingvild Espelien: The sorting of fleeces and spinning of the wool – working on international projects at Selbu Spinning Mill.

15.00-16.00: Exhibition of products from all projects.

16.00-17.00: A guided tour at Selbu Spinning Mill

17.00: End of the public part of the seminar

17.00-17.30: Evaluation of the projects (short) and discussion – Future cooperation and project plans? Only for the project participants and invited persons.

17.30: Finnish

Digital participation Friday 10.00-16.00 (150NOK)

Saturday October 22nd Practical day: Workshops and courses

10.00: Introduction and plan for the day

10:30: Workshops start. The workshop is organized in parallel sections. You sign up for two different workshops.

10.30-12.30: Wool sorting: we sort a selection of wool fleeces for different purposes and discuss the utilisation of different wool qualities, and we compare this with the finished products from the projects. Ingvild

10.30-12.30: Spinning (Marte Espelien Blomli)

12.30.-13.30: Lunch

13.30-15.30: Felting and walking (Nina Alsborn, Årolilja Svedal Jørgensrud, Will Riedlinger/Eli Wendelbo)

13.30-15.30: Weaving (Bente Østigård, Ingvild S. Espelien)

15.30-15.45: Evaluation and discussion

16.00: End of the seminar

Follow this link to read more about the seminar and Selbu Spinning Mill (