This season it’s all about pieces that are wonderfully woolly. From sofas to chairs, carpets to cushions, and rugs to footstools, wool is one of the most practical and versatile materials available.
We chatted to Martin Curtis of Curtis Wool Direct Ltd – a wool merchant who is in the business of buying, processing and selling wool.
The company, near Bradford, has evolved to be the largest wool processing company of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also the largest buyer of wool through the British Wool Marketing Board auction system and supplies stock to many of the manufacturers that create pieces available at Barker and Stonehouse.
Martin said: “Wool is a varied and wonderful fibre that makes the very best products; from high fashion knitwear, suiting and hand knitting yarns through to carpets, luxury beds and duvets. It is really diverse. Wool from different origins has different characteristics and it is the merchant’s job to ensure the right wool is delivered to manufacturers down the line. The wool textile industry tends to be broken down into two main sectors: apparel and interiors.
“The majority of wool produced in the United Kingdom goes into the carpet sector. Indeed, British wool has inherent qualities such as springiness, bulk and strength which means it is an ideal fibre for making carpets. The pile of a carpet can become flattened by heavy wear, but if it is made from springy British wool it has a natural ability to recover. It will look its best for much longer than one made from some form of plastic!
“The carpet sector is vital for the viability of British wool but it is also ideal for use in other products. A luxurious bed manufacturer based in Plymouth, Vi-Spring, turned its entire wool purchasing over to specially selected British fleece wools because they performed better and made their beds more comfortable than any others.
“British wool also makes superb duvets, picnic rugs, upholstery fabrics, curtain materials and so much more. One of the biggest changes to the industry in recent years has been the resurgence in hand knitting.
“Spinners of hand knitting yarns virtually disappeared, there are only a handful left in the UK. Nevertheless, they are seeing a huge increase in demand for their speciality British wool ranges and we are working constantly on making new wool qualities that they can spin into yarn and allow designers to create new fashions.”