The Conference & Updates

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The story of the perfect wool fiber – or how a new local sheep breed was created to meet the demands from the market.

Lena Persson is awool entrepreneur and part of the project that developed the “Jämtland sheep”. Some 20 years ago some wool and sheep enthusiasts in Northern Sweden asked themselves the question: Do we really have to import the fine merino-wool – couldn´t we keep the sheep here instead? Inspired by a wool industry in the area producing merino underwear they wanted to develop a local breed with wool fine enough to suite the industry. 

1999 the journey began to create a Swedish breed with soft wool without losing other benefits. As meat for long has been the main thing in Swedish sheep production it was important to maintain fertility and growth while developing the wool quality. 

In the project Ull-rika (wool-rich) during 2002-2008 six farmers was involved in crossbreeding the Swedish Svea sheep with merino. The Svea ewes are of meat breed and good mothers with high fertility. Some individuals also have very fine wool. At first merino semen from Denmark was used but it didn´t work out very well, so the next step was to import rams. The breeding work was facilitated by continuously using OFDA-100 optical fiber diameter analyzes of the wool.

In project ullFORuM (wool forum) 2008-2011 a mini mill with capacity of spinning 3-4 kg yarn per day was established for small-scale processing of the wool. There was also a felting machine. The project included courses for shearers and developing products together with the brand Design of jamtland and local craftspeople.

So where are we today? There were 382 ewes and 753 lambs of Jämtland breed registred in the Swedish national breeding database (Elitlamm) in 2019. Not all sheep are registred here, so the numbers might be a bit higher. The wool is very good with 17-23 microns on the ewes. Breeding is carefully planned to avoid inbreeding, but there is a need for new rams. 

2020 the mini mill still runs under the name Yarns & Barns. Wool from Jämtland sheep is used in 

Brattland sweater and hat made by Fjällräven, in a classic college sweater from A new Sweden, and of course it is popular among local crafters.

It takes time… but hopefully the breed will slowly grow and the wool increase in value! Most challenging was to get the rams into Sweden due to the bureaucracy, importing livestock includes a lot of paper work. The interest from farmers has been increasing as they see the value in the wool. 

Baltic Wool Conference

7-9 October 2021

The Gotland Region believes that there is a great deal of knowledge and a great potential for development around the wool business in Gotland. Partly in entrepreneurship, but also locally in the micro industries. We would like to contribute to the development of the wool industry. We strongly believe this conference in the long term will contribute to many of our strategic focus areas. It will be a visitor occasion in October, it will lead to development of the wool industry and it will strengthen craftsmanship and a living cultural heritage.

Nils-Erik Selin, Head of growth and development, Region Gotland

The National Swedish Handicraft Council (NFH) is a government agency under the Ministry of Culture with the task of promoting handicrafts. Important partners for the Authority’s work are the country’s regions, civil society organizations and other cultural authorities. Priority areas include sustainability, cultural and creative industries as well as working with the intangible cultural heritage.

Since the autumn of 2018, a national developer has been focusing on sustainability and wool issues at NFH. The goal is an agenda for how the wool issues, like classification and infrastructure, should be solved at national level together with various actors and authorities. This is done in the form of seminars, conferences and networking, both within Sweden and abroad. The initiative “Baltic Wool Conference” is part of the work to promote the Swedish wool industry, create new contacts and opportunities for further development together with the countries around the Baltic Sea.

Annkristin Hult, National Developer

The Rural Economy and Agricultural Society Gotland, which hosts the Baltic Wool Conference, works for developing business in the countryside. Lamb production is an important industry in Gotland that provides both tasty lamb meat, shimmering lambskin and wool for many uses. Grazing animals keep the landscape open and provide biodiversity. We believe in the development of the Swedish wool industry in collaboration with our neighbors around the Baltic Sea.

Mats Pettersson, CEO of Hushållningssällskapet Gotland