On a 7.5-ton loom affectionately named Luna, a group of women at The Barlow are meticulously crafting some of the most beautiful wool blankets in the world. Designer Jessica Switzer Green, a former Tesla executive, launched JG Switzer with the goal of creating textiles so luxurious and finely made that they will last not only a lifetime, but can be handed down to the next generation.
The bespoke blankets and throws, each elegantly edged in lustrous silk charmeuse, are primarily woven from the soft, sustainably harvested wool of rare breeds of sheep. These heirloom breeds produce distinctively different fleece—the Wensleydale, for example, has long, fast-growing fleece that must be cut twice a year.
“I’m really going for small flock animals at risk,” explains Green. “I’m choosing for the quality of the wool and the softness. And the color is really important, because I’m an oil painter, and I think of it as painting in wool.” Much of the company’s wool is sourced from nearby producers, including Sue Gustafson in Sebastopol, who keeps a small flock of rare Bluefaced Leicester sheep on her 8-acre farm. “The fiber grows in ringlets and it comes in white and in brown,” Gustafson says. “It’s a nice fiber to use for clothing and other projects because it’s not scratchy. You can wear it next to your skin.”
Green, who says she is motivated by sustainability and timeless design, is currently expanding into a broader array of natural-fiber textiles and products for the home. Says Green, “It’s about recreating and bringing excitement and a modern twist to old classics.”