ELSAWOOL

ELSA

Elsa 1952

1952

 
Elsa 1999

Photo by Nancy Kelly 1999

 
Elsa 2002

Photo by Kris Bryant 2002

Elsa 2004

Photo by Ann Duncan 2004

Elsa 2011

Photo by Laura Vandeleur 2011

 
 

THE SHEEP

All of my products are made from the wool of purebred Cormo sheep:
my flock of 200- 300 in Colorado (no longer in existence) and a flock of several hundred owned by a family in Montana.
The Cormo breed was developed by a geneticist and a rancher in Australia, from Corriedale rams and Superfine Merino ewes.
Cormo wool is as fine as average Merino, but it's longer-stapled, and noticeably softer than Merino wool of the same fiber diameter.
There are two breed associations in the US. Purebred Cormos with black, gray, or Moorit (brown) wool are not eligible for registration.
But their fleeces are prized by handspinners and others who appreciate the beauty of fine wool in black, brown, and various shades of gray.

White Sheep 1 Black Sheep 2  
 

THE WOOL

Cormo wool is fine, longer-stapled than most fine wools, very elastic, and exceptionally soft. It also is among the warmest of wools.
The picture on the left below shows the insulating properties of Cormo wool. The snow on the sheep has not melted; the body heat is close to the sheep.
The picture on the right shows a guy warm and comfortable in his Cormo woolens.

The wool 1 The wool 2    
 

THE PROCESSES

To transform wool from fleeces on sheep to clothing for people, a number of processes are required.

First, the sheep are shorn . . .

sheep sheering 1 elsawool  
sheep sheering 2 elsawool  
sheep sheering 3 elsawool  
sheep sheering 4 elsawool  


. . . and their fleeces are thoroughly skirted (sorted, with only the best fibers retained).

The wool 5 The wool 6  


The skirted wool is packed into bags.

The wool 6    

The bales of wool are shipped to Bollman Industries in San Angelo, Texas.
Like many things in Texas, this operation is huge.
Bollman washes up to 17,000 pounds of wool per day.
The compacted wool is loosened in a picker, washed in hot water and a mild detergent, and then dried, baled, and shipped out.

Some of the bales of washed wool are sent to Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
The wool is picked, blended, carded, and spun into soft, lofty, yet sturdy yarns.
White, black, and gray fleeces are blended to create various colors and shades of yarn.

Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill with Elsawool Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill with Elsawool      
Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill with Elsawool Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill with Elsawool      
Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill with Elsawool Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill with Elsawool      

The rest of the washed wool goes to a worsted spinning mill or a series of mills;
it is carded, combed, and spun into yarns that have more density and strength than woolen yarns.


Most of the yarns are skeined and washed and offered for sale to knitters, crocheters, weavers, and dyers.
Some yarns are knitted into articles of clothing, and into fabrics that are made into clothing and other products.

During the processes of growing, washing, spinning, knitting, and re-washing, the wool is left as pure and natural as possible.
 

THE PEOPLE

 

HELPERS
From the management of land and livestock,
through the phases of harvesting the wool and processing it into finished products,
to the marketing and selling of the products --
a number of people contribute hard work, expertise, and a conscientious attitude.
For all of these people, I am very grateful.

People 12 People 13 People 15  
 

CUSTOMERS
You, of course, are vital to Elsawool's success.
In addition, you happen to be some of the nicest people in the world!
I thank you for your purchases, your kind and encouraging words, and for all of the ways you've helped Elsawool to thrive and be a great place to work.

People 5 Customer 2 Customer 1
Stephanie Hatfield with sweater she made from Elsawool yarns.