When I started Southwestern Montana News, I had one goal in mind; I wanted to provide news now, not later. I have covered many events in the past and afterwords have thought, 'That was fun but nothing more.' But there are some things I have wanted to cross off my bucket list, whether it be a photograph I want to transition from my mind to reality or a video I want to release to the public to inspire the enthusiasm only I have known before.
When I got an invite to the Shear & Shred, a few thoughts ran through my mind. One of them was the fact that this was something I have always wanted to photograph. Check that one off the bucket list! I jumped at this chance of a lifetime. Not only could I be able to photograph something that is part of my town's history, but I could take part in something I had heard all growing up from my dad, about when he used to help shear sheep, which, in turn, gave this opportunity an even more special meaning to me.
Duckworth clothing is a brand of clothing which originated here in Dillon. Before today, that was my sole knowledge of the company. However, as I started filming the shearing and watching the commotion around me, things started to make sense in my mind and come together. Duckworth is more than a clothing brand. It has a story and a community behind its merchandise.
Watching the wool come off the sheep, I started to think about where these animals were raised. How you drive past them when you are on the way to the mountains without more than a fleeting thought. Much of the wool's texture-the dirt, the color, and miles it has seen through the sometimes fierce winters-are all from the same land that I grew up in. Soon, I was realizing this was more than just a ranch that raises sheep.
Listening to the company's family owners and operators, the Helles, speak about the wool with passion made me realize this brand has meaning. People from all walks of life were coming to view these sheep getting sheared and/or helping in the efforts. You would watch a family comprised of different generations working together, sorting, picking, testing, and bagging the product. But even in the craziness, if a reporter wanted to talk with one of the family members, that person would stop what they were doing and give a rundown of what their family does and just where each of the products go. You could tell this was a well-oiled machine that has and will be in this family for generations.
From watching the process and later walking out of the building, my only thought was that I needed some of this clothing. Most people want a shirt because it has a certain brand name on it, but that wasn't the case for me. I wanted this clothing because it truly does speak from anyone's roots that grew up in Dillon.
And now for the facts most people don't know off the top of your heads! If you are not familiar with the Duckworth line, here's the rundown straight from them:
Duckworth is the world’s only source-verified, single-origin, Merino wool apparel company. 100% Made-in-USA.
Where your WOOL GROWS matters. Our open-range Montana Merino sheep live between 5,000’ and 9,500’ elevation. The specific conditions of the Northern Rockies result in a rare wool, a soft durable fiber with exceptional loft and breathability.
Where your WOOL IS MADE matters. All our wool comes from our very own Helle Rambouillet Merino and certified Duckworth Wool Cooperative growers, this is increasingly more important as most wool now ships around the world several times before it meets your body, ours is locally grown.
Starting at the ranch, we begin the intricate process of sorting the wool for a specific end use, with yarn spinning, knitting, dyeing and finishing carefully managed on site by Duckworth’s technical team. This reduces our environmental footprint all the way from sheep to shelf.
Wool made in the country of origin – the United States – creates value-added product for our local economies. Keeping wool science and knowledge at home inspires technical breakthroughs and innovation at every level of the process, building a vibrant and globally competitive textile industry for the long term. This sheep-to-shelf process all begins with a rancher’s stewardship of the land and livestock.
At Duckworth, knowing and using what’s in our own backyard is what really counts. Trust, quality, and comfort are paramount, assured by the pedigree of our wool supply, which we control at every stage of handling.
Resurrecting the lost art and craft of American wool is our mission.
100% MADE-IN-USA MERINO WOOL
Duckworth is proud to be the only source-verified, 100% Made-in-USA Merino wool clothing company.
We carefully manage every step of the process, from raw fiber to finished garment. Knowing wool is our business.
Starting at the Helle ranch in Dillon, Montana where every fleece is graded and selected for its end use, our Merino /wool then travels to the Carolinas, the traditional powerhouse of US textile production. The spinning, knitting and dyeing is part science and part art, requiring specialized know-how, trusted partners and the long-term vision of a fourth-generation ranching family.
Deep understanding of the manufacturing process allows us to find opportunities for innovation at many stages of development, resulting in breakthrough wool products and practices, such as our “Chlorine Free” shrink-resist process, ultralight Vapor Wool fabric and our Woolcloud insulation.
Although the US textile industry has been on the decline for decades, our Sheep to Shelf™ supply chain brings jobs back to small communities, keeps technical knowledge close to home and assures maximum life-cycle sustainability.
Duckworth guarantees total supply-chain responsibility, quality and transparency from beginning to end.