It is immediately apparent after meeting Gerhard Schoppel, owner of Schoppel Wolle in Wallhausen, Germany, that he is not your “run of the mill” yarn producer. Rather, he is a creative visionary that has impacted the world’s fiber industry in many amazing ways.
Mr. Schoppel grew up in a yarn manufacturing family, so he was surrounded by yarns and textiles from an early age. He learned to knit in his early twenties; he says he learned “to impress a girl.” He went on to make several sweaters, one of which was for his father and is “still alive” he says (translation: still around). Soon, interest in other things overtook knitting, and he set the needles down.
He worked in his father’s yarn factory for many years, but he decided to branch out on his own in the early 2000s. His knowledge, passion, and creativity came together when he formed Schoppel Wolle.
One of Schoppel’s early innovations, for which he has won numerous awards in Europe, is his patented pre-felting technique. He created a machine that takes a one ply yarn and slightly felts it. This process gives the yarn greater stitch definition while it also slows pilling. An example of his pre-felted yarn is Cashmere Queen and the Reggae yarns. To the right is an image of the dyed roving for Reggae Ombre.
A few years later, his daughter was assigned a felting project for school, and after spending hours felting wool with her, Mr. Schoppel decided there had to be an easier way to do it. So he created artfelt® paper, a starch-based paper that holds roving together while it is being felted in the dryer. Artfelt® truly revolutionized felting.
In the vast sea of yarns being produced today, very few are special or unique enough to be immediately recognizable, especially from 10 feet away. Mr. Schoppel’s Zauberball line (Zauberball, Zauberball 100, Zauberball Crazy, Zauberball Starke 6, Lace Ball, and Lace Ball 100), however, are the rare exception. These magic balls (Zauber means magic in German) are all examples of his undeniable color genius combined with his own unique winding method. He dreamed of making a machine that would wind yarn differently - into a true ball instead of a hank, skein or cake. He worked with one of his machinists, and together they developed the machine that winds yarn into his signature ball. Below Zauberball Crazy is steamed.
In 2009, Mr. Schoppel picked up his needles again while visiting Karin Skacel at Sock Summit in Portland, Oregon. Since that time, he has knit over 20 sweaters. When asked if he has an advantage over other yarn manufacturers because he knits, Mr. Schoppel answered, “Only the knitter knows what the knitter wants.” And boy does he know what we want! Thank you for the Zauber, Mr. Schoppel!
Mr. Schoppel's cat, Louise, is the inspiration for the Schoppel Wolle logo.