Sustainability and Finnsheep Woolby Selvedge Team
Finnish company Lapuan Kankurit are led by fourth generation entrepreneurs and weavers. When Esko Hjelt’s grandfather acquired their first industrial weaving looms in the 1930s, Finland was still a relatively poor country. Household textiles were cherished valuables: durable and made to stand the test of time in order to be passed on to the next generation. Now, even as the leading manufacturer of household textiles in Finland, creating long-lasting, sustainable products is still the starting point for Lapuan Kankurit’s production, and they are hoping to lead the way in the responsible utilisation of Finnish wool.
According to estimates, around half of the wool of Finnish sheep currently goes to waste. Lapuan Kankurit have invested in a new weaving and finishing line to create woolen textiles made entirely from the wool of Finnish Finnsheep, including using thread made from the waste wool that is usually discarded. The fine wool of Finnsheep is usually only used by craftspeople for making small runs of craft yarn and there has traditionally been a lack of demand for the wool thread in industrial weaving. Another reason for this is the low price of raw wool, which disincentivises sheep farmers from undertaking the laborious task of sorting and selling the wool.
Aiming to kickstart demand for this waste wool fibre, Lapuan Kankurit have also invested in four new jacquard machines for its weaving mill in Lapua to meet the demands of increased wool production. Esko Hjelt hopes that ”once demand increases, the price of wool fibre will increase with it, making it profitable for the sheep farmers as well”. Over the past year the entrepreneur has been touring Finland’s sheep farms to acquire the waste wool, which, after being washed in England (due to industrial scale washing not being possible in Finland) will be dyed with plant-derived dyes, spun, woven and finished at their mill. The company is combining old techniques that utilised all grades of Finnsheep wool with new technologies to make their production more sustainable, and are now looking for more partners in Finland to assist with thread production.
Find out more about Lapuan Kankurit’s new venture on their website.
Read more about our love of wool and Nordic style in Selvedge Issue 96 Nordic.