What lead to you becoming a yarn producer?
I (Jocelyn Tunney, here) graduated with a degree in Studio Art with a concentration in fiber arts, printmaking and painting. After college, I worked in yarn shops in New York City while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. Of course, I then realized that I wanted to work with yarn and fiber. I then moved to Philadelphia and began studying towards a Master's in Textile Design, and I learned insanely technical things about fiber, yarn and fabric. I also became the Associate Director of Fairmount Fibers, the distributor of Manos del Uruguay yarns in the US.
Because I wasn't busy enough (ha!), I took over O-Wool in 2010 and started applying the knowledge I learned in graduate school. I continue to be completely fascinated by fiber, yarn and fabric, and through O-Wool, I am able to pair this with my passion for animal welfare and environmental sustainability.
Where do you create? Do you have a team?
I run O-Wool out of a studio in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, and of course, I could not operate O-Wool alone. Claire is an O-Wool employee who has worked with me for a number of years, and she cares about O-Wool as much as I do, which is so rare and amazing to find.
I also have help from family and friends, including my fiance Patrick, both of our sets of parents, my sister, and my friend Susan. As they say, it takes a village!
What inspires you?
I always dreamed of having a career that I enjoyed. Yes, it's hard work, and it's stressful a lot of the time, but having the opportunity to live my dream is what inspires me to keep creating, and help others create.
I love Winter for knitting. After trudging through the mud and snow and ice in the dark, I feel compelled to rush home, and hunker down with hot chocolate in front of our wood-burning stove, and KNIT! And Winter is a wonderful time to wear all of my creations.
Can you walk us through one of your yarns from start to finish?
Our "O-Wash" line of yarns are a personal favorite of mine. I had the idea for years before I was able to execute it in a way that I am proud of and can stand behind.
"O-Wash" wool is grown on certified-organic farms in South America, then it travels to Europe where it is cleaned, combed, and treated with a proprietary certified-organic polymer to create machine washability. After that, it heads to a spinning mill in Maine and then to a Maine dyehouse where it is dyed, twisted, tagged, and bundled. Then it makes its trek down to Philadelphia.
I'm especially proud that "O-Wash" is GOTS certified. GOTS, or Global Organic Textile Standard, is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers and requires independent certification of certain environmental and social criteria. You can learn more about GOTS here.