Masterweave managing director Lindsay Cairns in the Masterton factory store surrounded by some of the mohair blankets. PHOTOS/CHELSEA BOYLE
By Chelsea Boyle
What was once another cog in a mass woollen blanket trade is now renowned as the country’s only specialist mohair weaving facility, Masterweave.
Gladstone farmer Lindsay Cairns said he was a “jack of all trades” until taking over the business which became his focus.
Mr Cairns bought the weaving facility in 1989, taking over a defunct business and transforming it into a booming business that creates mohair and alpaca products.
Today, the company makes 16,000 throws and 10,000 scarves a year.
“We have gravitated to that niche high-end market,” Mr Cairns said.
The throws can fetch upwards of $250 depending on where they are being sold, and the scarves go from anywhere between $70 and $110.
In the factory store on Lincoln Rd throws can found at $160, and scarves between $45 and $55.
Over the past 28 years, Masterweave has been commissioned to work on a variety of special projects.
This included weaving bench blankets for the All Blacks, period blankets for River Queen and producing fabric to adorn wizards and hobbits alike in The Lord of the Rings movies.
The bulk of the mohair comes from the South Island. The alpaca fibre is sourced from both Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Cairns said he enjoyed being a part of every aspect of the business, from interacting with customers to coming up with the right machinery.
He built the machine that uses dried teasels, from the thistle plant, to brush the mohair and create a light downy finish to the blankets.
It was a technique he had seen overseas and wanted to use here in New Zealand.
“We have been embraced by New Zealand retailers and shoppers for being New Zealand made,” Mr Cairns said.
People loved the products because of the ‘instant warmth and comfort factor’.
The blankets made for popular wedding presents because people saw them as ‘special’.
Masterweave has a factory store, on Lincoln Rd, and an outlet store in Christchurch but is sold nationwide.
It is not just New Zealanders who are buying the products. A third of the company’s production is exported to Australia, the United States and Europe.