1/16/12

sweater shortage and the answer

I hath neglected thee, dear blog.  Apologies.

We seem to be settling into Cascadia.  We finally moved into our long-ish term address (nothing is really ever home when we attend to the military's beck and call).  Although small -- we lost about 600 sq feet -- and entirely too close to I-5, it is not terrible.  Household DIY projects have been abundant and I have a new obsession with flat white spray paint.

I have explored many a thrift in the area - usually driving up to 100 miles round trip to hit the best - but wool is rare.  I did bring a massive stash from South Carolina but it will only go so far.  My last ditch effort to solidify a steady supply amounted to a jaunt to Oregon last Friday.  I hoped to raid the Pendleton Wool scrap store.  I was not alone.  And armed only with my camera phone.

The Woolen Mill Store is buried deep inside Portland.  Back in the corner of their retail spread (where beautiful pieces of fabric run just shy of $60.00 per yard) lie bins of scrap for $3.00 to $5.00 per pound.  After a bit of research, I learned the truck delivers Thursday nights which makes 10 am Friday mornings the best time to visit.  Mars and I arrived promptly at 9:54 (we drove 2 hours) to find the open sign already flipped.  There were around 10 people shoulder deep in the lower priced bins.  I had Goodwill clearance center flashbacks and decided fighting over small, but lovely, chunks of fabric was not for me.  I noticed the higher priced (and larger) scrap sitting neglected.  I found 12 or so lovely pounds of neutral solid colors...and a dependable place to find materials.

We had another tip from a guy that my husband works with...he mentioned that on visits home, his wife buys yards of wool from another Pendleton factory store in Washougal, WA.  We stopped by on our drive back and stumbled upon a sweet worker happy to make multiple trips behind the scenes to retrieve about 8 yards of flat weave wool scrap.  I feel so fortunate to live close enough for our business (and customers) to benefit from the scraps of such high quality materials.  They feel like clouds upon the fingertips.

I am hopeful that used apparel will continue to account for at least half of our raw materials.  The switch to retail scrap will be interesting.  The quality of our work will not suffer but the variance of color may wane.  But our survival depends on it.