History

Woolyarns yarn manufacturing spans seven decades

1907 – Colin Wood is born quite literally into the woollen industry at Yorkshire, England. Colin’s grandfather and uncles had founded their own Green Lane Mill in the early 1880s.

1920 – Colin begins his apprenticeship at the Washpit Mills in the original Yorkshire spinning area of Holmfirth.

1931 – The Great Depression prompts Colin to look overseas for work. He applies for a job at the Oamaru Woollen Mills, New Zealand.

1934 – Colin’s son, Peter, is born.

1939 – Colin starts work at the Petone Woollen Mills, Wellington

1944 – Colin leaves the Petone Woollen Mills and sets up a wool spinning factory of his own. This marks the beginnings of the company that would become Woolyarns.

1945 – Colin’s son, Jim, is born.

1946 – After a fire destroys the property, Colin forms a partnership with Tommy Wells – Wellwood Ltd. In 1953, Colin buys out Wells and changes the company’s name to Woollen Industries Ltd.

1956 – Peter joins his father full time in the business.

1958 – 59 – The company moves premises.

1965 – Jim joins the company to ‘take over the office’. The company focuses on producing yarns to customer specifications. In time it would become a major supplier to local knitting mills.

Late 1960s – Jim travels extensively to market the business. The company begins exporting yarns to Australia, then Hong Kong and then Mauritius.

The 1970s – The company continues to expand internationally.

1977 – The company receives the Trade Promotion Council’s Export Award in September. That same year, the company changes its name to Woolyarns Limited.

1978 – Colin dies.

1979 – The company is awarded a High Priority Status Award for its outstanding contribution to New Zealand’s economic growth.

1992 – Jim dies suddenly at just 47.

1992 – Research and development leads to the development of new yarns incorporating merino and New Zealand Brushtail possum fibres. The company begins commercial spinning of merino possum yarn.

1995 – Woolyarns marks its 50th anniversary.

1999 – As competition from China changes the face of NZ textiles, Woolyarns recognises that it needs to become a niche market supplier. Possum yarn manufacturing production expands and the fibre becomes a mainstream product offering.

2003 – Woolyarns launches its Perino possum wool brand.

2004 – The company produces its first carpet yarns.

2006 – New machinery is installed with Chem Setting capabilities.

2007 – Woolyarns launches its Zealana hand knitting brand.

2010 – INZpire carpet yarn brand launched.

2011 – An upgrade in fine spinning for possum blended yarns means Woolyarns can now spin to Nm 36/2.

2015 – Woolyarns Perino possum wool brand, Perino re-entered the International market by exhibiting at Pitti Filati and Spinexpo trade fairs.

2017 – Woolyarns signs an agreement with IAFIL Industria Ambrosiana Filati S.p.A to exclusively distribute Perino yarns in Italy and France.

2017 – Woolyarns restructured. Selling the carpet plant and their hand knitting capabilities. The Zealana brand was sold to Extraordinary yarns in Australia, and the factory continues to manufacture the yarns.

Feature image

COLIN WOOD - FAR RIGHT OAMARU WOOLLEN MILLS, 1931