Canadian Wool Month & WOO Stories: Unveiling Creativity amid Challenges

At Arts & Labour, we’re passionate about creativity and innovation. In this article, Mariana Grezova, the Founder and Creative Director, will share her journey with The Campaign for Wool and her WOO Stories project, highlighting the challenges, opportunities and surprises encountered.

The Campaign for Wool, led by its Patron, the former Prince of Wales, has since 2010 passionately advocated for showcasing the unique benefits of wool. Beyond underlining the importance of supporting this sustainable industry, the Campaign champions the well-being of farmers and communities globally. The organization’s influence extends across borders, featuring collaborations with design and fashion brands like Andreas Murkudis, Barbour, Droog, John Galliano, Knoll, Mark & Spencer, John Smedley, UGG or Vivienne Westwood. 

Holt Renfrew, Campaign for Wool Canada to spotlight the latest in fashion with 2021 Capsule Collection
The Campaign for Wool Canada was honoured to welcome HRH the Prince of Wales back to Canada in support of the Platinum Jubilee at Government House in St. John Newfoundland and Labrador in May 2022.
Marks & Spencer 2021 launched THE ORIGINALS – Reworked-Remade-Responsible
Highgrove and the Prince’s Foundation have collaborated with Johnstons of Elgin to create the Highgrove Heritage Scarf.

Upon discovering The Campaign for Wool and its inspiring celebrations, particularly Wool Month, I was eager to connect. I reached out to the Canadian office, presenting my WOO Stories project with the goal of contributing to one of their future celebrations.

A selection of the digitally replicated swatches

The synergy felt right, and it was. The concept resonated with genuine enthusiasm. At its core, the project involves digitally replicating hand-knitted patterns, transforming them into independent knitted figures, and integrating them as characters of my short animations. Uninhibited by anything except the page edge and their own unique preferences, each character often behaves much like we might if similarly liberated.

A selection of the replicated knitted forms: vessels with tentacles and paper planes below

Subsequently, with The Campaign for Wool Canada’s president Matthew J. Rowe, we delved into the collaborative process, exploring objectives, designs, deliverables, and budgets. However, just as we were ready to kickstart the production phase, our engaging communications unexpectedly came to a halt. The collaboration was put on hold. 

The question arises: was the collaboration paused due to the transition of The Campaign for Wool’s patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, to King? Or was it affected by post-pandemic economic strains, with organizations coping amid rapidly shrinking marketing budgets?

A selection of the Canadian Wool Month & WOO preliminary collection for the H project

Disappointed with the abrupt disruption while grateful for the initial enthusiasm, I had to part with the vision of seeing the project with its animations and newly designed WOO collection realized. Despite looking forward to collaborating with organizations like the Canadian Guild of Knitters and NONIA, I had to accept the reality.

If these walls could talk
Me, myself & I
If you want it

The evolution of the WOO project continues with unwavering determination. Since the pause, the knitted characters have become monarchs of my own creative output. Each claims a life of its own choosing. Their animated stories keep unraveling and expressing more strangeness that can be as visual as emotional. Undeterred, I believe that one day, they will not only help honour the Canadian Wool Month celebration but will do so with a fully realized and triumphant collaboration.

Mariana Grezova, Founder and Creative Director of Arts & Labour, facilitates collaborations between pioneering brands and creative professionals. She leads A&L MAG, an online publication highlighting diverse art and design projects worldwide.