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Spinning, recycling and exporting wool with Molly Faull

Molly Faull is the recipient of the Sir James Gobbo Legacy Fellowship. With this Fellowship, she intends to enhance her practice in technical wool knitwear through exposure to the world’s capital of textile craftsmanship, Italy.

By exploring heritage and new wool recycling methods to develop the quality of knitwear in Australia, Molly hopes to further her supply chain knowledge, and subsequently promote circularity. Through understanding state-of-the-art yarn spinning technology, Molly can apply and share knowledge to encourage innovative textile applications, whilst investigating opportunities to support the ongoing demand of one of Australia’s largest export commodities, Merino wool.

We asked Molly a few questions about her background in fashion, and what she intends for her Fellowship.

Q: How did you get into knitwear - did you study fashion design then move into knitwear?

I studied a Bachelor of Applied Sciences at RMIT, which covered a broad range of textile related subjects, from design and patternmaking through to merchandising and logistics. After graduating, I moved to London and worked with COS in their knitwear design and buying team. This is where I fell in love with the creativity and technicalities of knit. I grew up on a Merino woolgrowing property in country Victoria, it wasn't until I was approving some yarn colour trials from Italy using Australian Merino from Victoria that I became fascinated with the wool supply chain. Since then I have centred my career around learning as much as possible about Wool and Knitwear. Learning about knitwear in such a focussed way is not currently possible at University in Australia.

Q: What are some of your professional highlights?

Professionally, so far my biggest highlight is being accepted into an intensive a Knit Programming course in Japan for 4 weeks. I was also accepted into the International Wool Textile Organisation's Young Wool Professional programme in 2020. I have been invited as a guest lecturer at several universities and conferences across Australia about wool, fabrics and knit. The opportunity to undertake this Fellowship with ISSI will be a dream come true as well as a career highlight, and will also complement my professional creative practices in knitted wool design.

Q: How do you intend to use your Fellowship funds - where do you intend to visit and what would you like to learn?

My Fellowship funds will give me the opportunity to visit Italy for the first time where I intend to learn about spinning wool yarn and recycling wool (pre-consumer and post-consumer waste) into reusable yarn knit. The leaders in craftsmanship and state-of-the-art technology for both spinning and recycling wool, Italy is the capital of quality wool yarn production. I intend to visit as many spinners as possible, some still implementing traditional recycling and spinning practices that are over 100 years old. I will visit the spinning district in Biella, near Milano, and also the recycling city Prato, near Florence. In addition, I will attend 2 major yarn and machinery exhibitions in Italy.

Q: How do you perceive Australia's knitwear industry? Is there a skills shortage, what do you think would benefit the industry?

I am really excited for the future of Australian knitwear. There is a new generation of designers, engineers and technicians all wanting to grow the industry into a completely self-sufficient and booming sector for manufacturing, creating and innovation. At the moment, I can see a huge skill shortage because of the lack of opportunities for learning about programming but also very little yarn-related knowledge. Australian consumers are wanting more locally produced goods, and shorter, more transparent supply chains. Once we can grow the skills I truly believe the knitwear and spinning industry in Australia will be a flourishing and permanent part of the onshore manufacturing industry.

Q: In what ways can you see yourself assisting in the export of Merino wool?

By immersion and exposure to wool spinning, I will be able to grow local knowledge on yarn to assist our industry in making more informed choices for their knit products. With regards to Wool recycling, I aim to share this knowledge with textile recycling start-ups and circularity consultants to broaden their pursuits with tangible outcomes. By extolling the sustainability attributes of recycling wool, which mostly requires virgin wool to be spun together to create a strong yarn, I believe the demand for exporting Australian Merino wool will continuously increase and cement my favourite fibre as the best choice for sustainability. Additionally, the growth of wool spinning and knit production knowledge helps enrich skills to contribute to, and to satisfy the growing demand for onshore/local processing and manufacturing.

The Sir James Gobbo Legacy Fellowship will be sponsored by the Italian Australian Foundation in 2023. Fellowship guidelines and application dates to be announced soon.

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