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The Catalonian wool context


Researching together about the heritage and life cycle of wool-making in your territory.

Catalonian has been one of the most important textile manufacturing regions in the XIX century. Wool industries were part of a larger industry that benefited from the industrial revolution using coal and water as fuel for manufacturing fabric and associated products. By visiting the museum of science and technology in Terrassa, we could immerse ourselves in the practices of wool production in the 19th century. From now on, Cataluña is producing around 500 tons of wool each year. Idescat, 2021. This number is decreasing over the years. Most of the old buildings have disappeared or are now mediating the industrial heritage and associated knowledge around textile production.

Local wool characteristics and typology

There are 3 main types of Catalonian sheeps with different wool quality and different existing structures to develop, maintain and sustain the practice of wool production: Xisqueta, Ripolesa, Aranesa. Close to Cataluña, was the birth of the merino wool. Even if the production has drastically reduced, merino value chains are still present in between France and Spain. MACOMERINOS: ORGANIC MERINO WOOL illustrates an original territorial cooperation between french farmers and catalan cooperative of knitters embedded in the heritage of textile industry. Other types of wool can be found, especially many forms of “waste” wool, but also smaller production coming from other animals, sometimes with higher wool properties. For instance, two projects with Alpacas have emerged in the territory: Alpaca Pirineu, and Mas Castanyer.

Catalan Sheep

Key actors and active locations in the field

Remaining local production mainly comes from local cooperatives of artisans. One inspiring example is the cooperative Xisqueta, a local revitalization project which was founded in 2009 in order to remunerate the wool of Xisqueta sheep at a fair price for the shepherds and shepherdesses who keep this breed.


Obrador Xisqueta. Lana y desarrollo local / Llana i desenvolupament local from obradorxisqueta on Vimeo.

Xisqueta ended its activity during the project duration.

In Barcelona, we can also find some spinning companies such as Hilatura Arnau that keep on producing yarns from different types of fibers and are equipped for processing cleaned wool into yarns. The teixidors are a great example of knitter cooperatives working with local wool projects. Events like Festivalet or Barcelona Knits are ideal places for showcasing and bringing together designers and brands that play with wool.

Projects connected to wool

  • Visit of local stakeholders with the Bask Design Center and the Icelandic Textile Center during Fabricademy bootcamps
  • Squeeze the Orange from Remix El Barrio, created a biomaterial with orange peels and the local wool Xisqueta
  • Lara Campos created a regenerative wool fabric, through her project Be grounded. She also creates spinning and weaving hand machines to create her piece.
  • Petra Garajova initiated a project on wool waste creating a material with 3D printing technology.
  • Tornem les esquells. Development of a new project with the wool of Collserola park. check link. talk1 talk2


  1. What did you learn?

We learnt a lot from the visit of the exhibition Wool mills, for instance about:

  • The quantities of individual jobs from past wool manufacturing
  • The Importance of inequalities for women/men. Despite evident inequalities, it was a space for women emancipation and expression
  • the complexity of machines and the importance of superficies it takes to manufacture at that time.
  • Old machines inspire for new designs
  • The way we design industries is shaping the urban area and ways of living
  • The dependance of natural ressources. coal ressources coming from UK + water
    1. What are the "hot topics" to explore?
  • How to reduce the space needed for machines
  • How to connect wool farmers with local designers and makers - bridge the gaps for species in disappearance
  • How to avoid the disappearance of traditional knowledge
  • How exhibition could be more active and initiate new engagement for local production. Interface of knowledge...towards making - seems static
  • How to ensure a quality of wool in accordance with customer exigences? or how do we better raise awareness from customers.
  • The rare industrial mills left in Spain require a minimum of 500 kg of raw wool.

    As wool objects rely on the well-being of their sheep and their environment, the care of processes, projects depend on people who are running them

    Cultural heritage is about maintaining memories and make projects live and evolve through the motivations of people

    Local wool projects can stop. Hopefully the knowledge is preserved with the stories people left behind.

    The links between Wool waste or bad-quality wool + digital fabrication need to be explored more

    1. What are the cultural specificity/gaps of the place?
  • Still a strong disconnexion between consumers and producers
  • Xisqueta is a successful project that illustrates the cooperativist mindset of Catalonia
  • The makers and designers of Barcelona are in demand for cooperation with local resources and people. Many techniques are already present whether in practice or in the knowledge centres.
    1. With whom collaborate for our little factory project?

    Spinning Local Wool with Hilo Machine

    Robot Tufting with IAAC MAA2 students

    Wool fiber Reinforcement of Biomaterials

    MAKE.WORKS stakeholder platform Catalonia

    Activate culture heritage with the CENTRINNO project

    2 opportunities rise up during the Wool Mondays: cooperating with Tornem les esquelles and working with catalonian rural area to explore possible learning experience onsite.

    Last update: October 14, 2022