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WORTH Partnership Project

One Sheep for a Lifetime

A playful tool to enable more caring relationships with the materials we use for the production of our clothing

One Sheep for a lifetime

The message of the project

The project is about valuing natural resources while connecting with the animals we get them from. This approach can be pleasant and rewarding, and it will help us consume less.

Their goal is to find playful ways to enable people to act more caring towards the planet and its inhabitants. As a team of designers and engineers they develop proposals to help people imagine alternative ideas for our material culture on a planet in trouble.

The idea behind the project

There are 8 billion people on our planet. And there are one billion sheep. Imagine no other resources spent on our clothing. No more land to be degraded by the cultivation of cotton and no more oil to be used for polyester production.

It’s a simple idea and thought experiment in a scenario of radical limitation. It may seem speculative for now, even political! Though it shouldn’t provide some glimpse into a fictional dystopia, but rather serve as a prototypical principle on how to address the earth’s very real limitations and encourage the paradigm change required to maintain and restore a habitable planet.

But what would be needed to achieve this ambitious goal?

What could be alternatives to how we utilise materials, notably for clothing and textiles, and how can we treat the people and creatures involved in their creation more respectfully?

The project team agreed on the aim of developing a tool that would help to value the precious material that can be made from sheep wool: long lasting, comfortable and warming yarn. The digital software will allow users to repurpose their specific amount of woollen yarn by simulating new knitting projects. The wool of knitted garments can be recovered by unravelling the fabric, which is the basis for the circular transformation. The interactive online tool enables wool users to move their precious wool into another product lifecycle, by adapting its function to current needs.

It’s about imagination! Could you imagine having a very limited amount of resources available for your textile desires?

However, the endeavour of moving to a circular way of producing and consuming cannot be achieved in isolation. People need to adopt the idea, adapt to it even. Thus involving users, sheep herders, producers and sheep into their research and design process is one of their main premises in order to create a surprising, yet convincing application and platform.

This project is their first collaboration based on a shared vision of a more caring approach towards the use of resources and materials. They bring together experience in the re-use of yarn from both a design and technical perspective. By working in close collaboration they will learn from one another through an iterative design process.

What next?

This very tangible software product they will develop is only a small part of a bigger picture. To let the idea unfold its long term potential the recovery and re-usage of wool yarn needs to be conducted by a larger community. A cooperative could be a meaningful form to facilitate this network of stakeholders with shared interests. The software application should help engage many people in becoming a part of it.



Alexandra Fruhstorfer


Hannah Kelbel