Friday, February 17, 2017

The Wool Industry

I got this link to a blog about a the wool industry from one of the casketeers as something I would find interesting.  Sure would!  I thought you all might be interested in reading it as well.

The writer, a knitter, decided to go to an industry conference; The American Sheep Industry Association, and was quite surprised about some of the themes about the industry that she learned about and what types of things the seemingly small sheep farmers/wool producers of her craft yarns were thinking about and concerned about (like the failure of the TPP agreement which bodes bad for them now).  Some of it contrary to some of her beliefs about how the industry works or should work or could work in terms of current political winds.  It is a nice perspective to share and I would sum it up in two points:

  • All industries are much more complicated than you think and simple/easy solutions don't apply, if they did - they would have done it!
  • What drives decisions isn't what you think!
This wasn't news to me, in fact, I had a great giggle over Lesson 3 in the post about how much the American wool industry depends on turnover in Naval recruits and innovation at the Army Research Labs here in MA (The research discussed is done in a group I have received funding from for years in my engineering life).  

It parallels a day when I was talking to a battery expert during the Iraq war.  I was the technical head of the program to redesign the soldier system (what everything the soldier wears and carries is called - to us that would be clothes + accessories).  We were discussing the batteries and changing the shape of the batteries/packaging to make them easier to fit on the body for wearable electronics for situational awareness.

At that point, I knew that the US Army had taken over a full football stadium in Bagdad and it was filled with batteries.  Yes.  FILLED with batteries and that was only a few day supply.  Batteries for all kinds of equipment.  That is a lot of batteries.  And yet, the battery expert had to smile and tell me that the volume of batteries the military purchased was not even 1% of the batteries the cell phone industry purchases and thus the military couldn't dictate any changes to the form, they would have to live with what the telecommunications industry wanted.  Think about that.

In a situation like we are in, where we want interesting new fibers or want threads and other materials to stay around a long time, I often get comments from stitchers that I just don't even know how to answer.  It has taken so long to understand the industries, cultures, intellectual property rights and legal framework and economic realities for the countries of origin and our own that it is hard to answer.  They are simple comments about how 'someone' should 'do something'.  I try to answer and sometimes I write blogs like this.  

Read Lesson 5 in the blog and you can see how a small bottleneck - when targeted and solved - can open up a new opportunity to domestic business or what 'somebody should do'.  This is what I spent a decade doing - looking for those bottlenecks and trying to find ways to solve them so we could open the floodgates for threads/Caskets for a period of time (until they close again).  I did this while I was working on those soldier uniforms, getting ready for the next period of my life.  Right now, I am working on the next phase - looking at the bottlenecks for something else, studying and understanding the complexities and waiting for the right moment hoping that it will show itself at about the same time the complexities of our adventure together start to close in on us.    

It was a great blog - I am happy that Genie shared it with me!


1 comment:

  1. Dear Tricia,
    Thank you for your great blog! I am not sure what it is at the moment, but in a relatively small time-span three people have gone to great lengths to explain to me how I should run my embroidery life better. It is a relief to read that you get well-meant advice too �� Keep up the good work as I really enjoy your blog and the fantastic course you run!
    Have a nice day, Jessica