Edmonton handmade woven wool fabric for blankets

The Journey of Starting a Wool Weaving Factory in Edmonton

Take 1: The Big Dream of a Handmade Wool Blanket Shop

First of all - Yikes!

Dreaming big is always thrilling. Last year, the vision of operating a vast factory filled with weaving equipment, producing mass amounts of 100% wool woven blankets from locally-produced yarn, was spinning in my mind. The journey began with the ambitious step of arranging a warping mill's shipment to Edmonton, naively thinking that it would be easy to find a space that could accommodate this massive piece of equipment.

After much expense getting it here, we hired a leasing agent to help us locate a space. The practicality of what lease space was available given the mill’s power requirements hit hard. Seeing everything available and considering cost/risk, I realized I was missing a few steps between dream and reality. Finding the right space and the size of enterprise gave us cause to pause and reconsider how we were going to achieve this big dream. 

Finding Our Footing  & Overcoming Hurdles

 

Despite the setbacks, our passion and eagerness to produce sustainable blankets from our Parkland wool yarn remained undeterred, we were determined to weave them, even if it was with our hand looms. A serendipitous offer from Custom Woolen Mills to borrow a really cool old blanket loom previously owned by the beloved Alberta weaver, Ilya Oratovsky, marked the start of our scaled-down but heartfelt endeavour to run an eco-friendly and sustainable heritage craft business.

Our journey took a hopeful turn upon discovering a perfect space, although slightly over our budget. The site, filled with natural light, ample room for the looms, the skirting table, and a natural dyeing kitchen area, became our beacon of hope. The challenges of setting up Ilya's old loom, that miraculously had a warp on it. We decided to weave it off, though the wool warp was not traceable, in remembrance of a beloved Alberta weaver.  The loom was a beast to set up, and it was a challenge to weave on. Threads kept breaking, the shed was not great and it took so much time to weave even just one blanket. Kudos to Katelin Karbonik for taking on the task of blanket weaving. If she was frustrated, she did not show it. When I tried to weave on it. I swore a blue streak!. The completion of several wool blankets and subsequent sales to Custom Woolen Mills and online customers fuelled our determination.

Unfortunately, the journey was far from smooth, we have hit some major roadblocks the past month, including the city's denial of a permit for a dye kitchen and personal setbacks within our team as Kalea had to step back from the business while she focuses on her family and her health.

We had to relocate.

The Little Storefront on 95th Street

As we prepared to move to the new space in January, we were filled with optimism for the future. The exciting addition of a new team member, Kylie Boychuk (a wonderful weaver), and the hopes of establishing a comfortable, productive workspace for our little team to enjoy, marks a new chapter for Traceable Textiles. Despite the challenges, we are happy to be so close to local favourites like Otto and La French Taste, which could be good (maybe too good).

Transitioning after just four months is daunting, yes, it was a drag, yet the affordability and potential of our new location offer a renewed sense of hope. As we venture into another year, we are reminded of the resilience required to turn dreams into reality, no matter the scale. 

It is a new year, and another start.

 

 

 

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