Making Podcast Woolful Podcast

Episode 43: Thayne Mackey – Montana, wool insulation, bulletproof wool, and Brookside Woolen Mill

December 8, 2015


Sponsor:  Brooklyn General Store was created in 2002 and is owned and operated by Catherine Clark. Tucked away on a sweet block West of the Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill neighborhoods, Brooklyn General Store is the enchanting fiber and textile emporium we all dream of. Dreams full of wooly goodness, yards and yards of fabric, felt, dyes, patterns, tools, and handmade gifts. A little old and a little new…a classic general store for the maker who loves to make their own everything. With a charming studio, the shop hosts a variety of wonderful classes taught by special folks including Cal Patch, Nguyen Le, Heather Love and many more. With it’s floor to ceiling shelves, old rolling ladders, and old wood floors, it feels as though you’ve stepped into a wooly wonderland…I so wish I lived closer and could adopt this shop as my own lys, but thankfully they have an online shop filled to the brim with all of their fiber and sewing goods and gifts. So if you’re in the Brooklyn area or just passing through, visit Brooklyn General Store in person and find them online at


Fiber folk: We’re all very familiar with the wool in the fiber arts, but something that’s far less known is it’s use in building materials, including insulation. What’s extra neat about wool insulation is that it often times uses wool that would be of little or no value in the yarn world and therefore making the best use out of this fiber we love so much. Thayne Mackey and his family are doing something pretty wonderful at Montana Green Insulation and I’m excited for you to hear more. You can find Thayne at and on Facebook as Brookside Woolen Mill.






images (1)

Sponsor: Montana Green Insulation is located in Malta, Montana and is a family run operation, by today’s guest Thayne Mackey, his wife and two children. In 2009 Thayne and his family downsized their farm and started Brookside Woolen Mill where they create their wool insulation product. They run an organic wool processing operation, with high efficiency heating systems, solar water heaters, recycling and settling ponds for waste water, bio-degradable soaps and eco-friendly disposal systems for the vegetable wastes produced by sheep. Their woolen products include Montana Green Sheep Wool Insulation, Reclamation and Revegetation Mats, and Bio-wix wattles and booms for petroleum spills on land and in water. We’re using the wool insulation for our yurt platform and decided to do so because of the incredible properties of wool insulation and it’s R-value. I hope you’ll consider learning more about wool insulation and using it for your next building project. Find Montana Green Insulation at


Update: As many of you know, we recently moved from San Francisco to our ranch in North Idaho where we’re in the final stages of building our yurt home. Over the past couple of years we’ve been doing a lot of research on what materials we wanted to use for various parts of the process, specifically insulation. Because of our northern climate, extra insulation is a must. There are lots of insulation options, but of course our heart was set on using wool insulation after learning more about it’s obvious benefits and R-Value. After reaching out and learning about Thayne Mackey’s operation at Montana Green Insulation we decided on 500lbs of loose fill insulation which we’ll be using in our platform flooring. The delivery is set to arrive early next week and we’ll be posting lots of photos and info on this process as it’s new to us and there really isn’t a whole lot of information out there on on installation. So stay tuned, we’re super excited to get our floor insulated and move in!


Giveaway: The winner of last week’s giveaways are, appaloosa13 you’ve won the Dottie Angel frock pattern, Claire you’ve won 2 skeins of the Moeke Merino, and Analiese, you’ve won a Woolful Sheep Breed Calendar. Congratulations!

This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Taproot Magazine and Boho Chic Fiber Co and they’re giving away the most recent issue of Taproot, Shelter and two gorgeous skeins of handspun Polwarth and Mohair and Silk fingering yarn along with Annie Lupton’s Groh Shawl pattern. To enter this giveaway, leave a comment on today’s episode’s blog post.



Music by Jónsi.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Chris Carol December 8, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you so much for making my life better!

    • Reply jenny January 18, 2016 at 10:21 am

      So, so interesting. Every time. Thank you so much for doing this podcast.

  • Reply Naomi December 8, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I’m so glad to see that Brookkyn general store is one of your sponsors. It’s one of my favorite yarn stores.

  • Reply Brittany December 8, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    What a fascinating episode! Thanks, as always, for sharing.

  • Reply aseriousloverofbooks December 8, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    The Wool Campaign has been doing a great job on promoting non-traditional uses of wool.

  • Reply Cathy December 8, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    How interesting! I’m always amazed by the creative skills that folks employ.

  • Reply Morgan December 8, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Can’t wait to hear the episode–sounds fascinating. Wool insulation: who knew? Love it!

  • Reply Robin December 8, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Wow, sheep are the best. And your yurt looks wonderful.

  • Reply isabel December 8, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    you find the most amazing people to share with us. Thank you so very much for such a thoughtful and thought provoking podcast.

  • Reply Barb Brown December 8, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    What an interesting podcast! I learned so much, stops bullets, doesn’t burn toxically, and used for insulation!!! Who knew, oh wool I love you!

  • Reply Christine December 8, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    I think we must be on the same page. Just last week I found wool insulation rolls from Black Mountain USA, which would take the place of mineral wool insulation (vs. blown cellulose, which is what loose wool replaces). I’ve sent off for quotes for our tiny house build because I would love to have a house full of wool — and not just my yarn stash. Anyway, so glad to hear about another wool insulation company and I’m looking forward to reading about your flooring process!

  • Reply Hannah December 8, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Just found you guys- cool blog!

  • Reply Jodi B December 8, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I’m new to your podcast and I really enjoyed this week’s episode. I had no idea that people were using wool as insulation and it really makes a lot of sense. Thanks so much! Can’t wait for the next episode

  • Reply Katie December 8, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    LOVE Boho Chic Fibers beautiful and imaginative creations

  • Reply olivia December 8, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Another amazing episode!!

  • Reply Courtney December 8, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    This was such an interesting episode, thanks for sharing!

    Also, I’m really looking forward to seeing your finished yurt!

  • Reply Olivia T December 8, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Lovely episode! Interested to hear more about wool insulation 😀

  • Reply Kristina December 9, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Another awesome episode! Loved the way values came through in the interviews.

  • Reply Dana December 9, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Lovely episode! I had no idea that wool could be used as insulation, I am looking forward to watching your progress on the yurt floor! Thanks for the chance to win.

  • Reply Rachel December 9, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    I’m a fairly new listener and have so been enjoying it! This episode was particularly interesting…I had aspirations of building at one point and never even considered wool as insulation. Incredible! (And I second the other comments…looking forward to yurt updates!)

  • Reply Antonella December 9, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Enjoyed the podcast! Love the photos of your yurt!!

  • Reply Joanne December 9, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I do really love your podcast every time, and like giving it a try here.

  • Reply Andrea December 9, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome podcast, as always! 🙂

  • Reply Joyce December 9, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Looking forward to this podcast episode!

  • Reply Jaci December 9, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Very interesting! If I ever need insulation I will definitely buy wool (or at least try very hard to convince my husband that is what we need)

  • Reply Amelia December 10, 2015 at 4:58 am

    great episode xx

  • Reply Amy December 10, 2015 at 7:17 am

    I am wrapping gifts with hot cocoa while listening to this podcast. A little blissful hour for me, thank you!

  • Reply HeiM December 10, 2015 at 7:47 am

    You made my day Thank you.

  • Reply Allie December 10, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Thanks for another great episode! Really cool to hear about other uses for wool, I hope you’ll do more episodes like this one!

  • Reply Eli December 10, 2015 at 8:37 am

    What a wonderful and informative episode! And your yurt is looking gorgeous!

  • Reply LuisaM December 10, 2015 at 9:27 am

    Another great episode, thank you!

  • Reply Lulu December 10, 2015 at 9:50 am

    I loved this story! Is amazing that the wife (she must really be a wonderful woman) started knitting and then they started the whole thing with sheep, mill and the insulating process machinery. Very inspiring. Please let us know about your experience with the insulated floor!

  • Reply Rebecca Gallagher December 10, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I loved hearing about Thayne Mackey and his quest reinvigorate the American wool industry.

  • Reply Adrienne Kaylor December 10, 2015 at 11:42 am

    This is fascinating! I never knew wool could be used as insulation for housing. We have a dream of building our own modest home one day and I’ll keep this in my mind as an option.

  • Reply Teresa December 10, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    I honestly hope that wool insulation starts to become more widespread. Hopefully one day when we get the opportunity to build our “dream home” I have the ability to put wool to use.

  • Reply Heidi December 10, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Oh my goodness. My husband loves this so much. He’s been talking to me about wool insulation for MONTHS.

  • Reply Shelli Martineau December 10, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    What an interesting episode! Thanks, as always, for sharing.

  • Reply Claudia December 10, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Can’t wait to see the photos from your yurt and considering wool as an insulation material makes total sense.

  • Reply Jocelyn December 10, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Really interesting episode! I enjoyed it as always 🙂

  • Reply asteride December 11, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Great episode! My daughter has a project in Business Studies in High School and we listened to the podcast together and discussed the topic. Very interesting! Thank you as always for the nice giveaway.
    asteride on Ravelry

  • Reply Marilyn Hale December 11, 2015 at 2:52 am

    Thanks for another great episode. I had not heard about wool insulation before, but it sounds like a good thing.

  • Reply Laurie in Maine December 11, 2015 at 3:46 am

    So fortunate to spend this summer/fall processing fleece from a friends farm in Montana! Tunis. LOVE it. Coming up on the 2nd anniversary of buying a Schacht Ladybug sight unseen and teaching myself to spin. I never knew I wanted to be a spinner. Now I can’t imagine not. (It was lovely to knit with as well!)

  • Reply Amy December 11, 2015 at 5:41 am

    Would love to win the yarn and pattern!

  • Reply Charlaine December 11, 2015 at 7:53 am

    What an interesting episode, never knew about wool as insulation. But have often referred to my stash that way. Would love to win this weeks giveaway.

  • Reply Lissa Zambo December 11, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Good morning Ashley,

    I found your podcast a few weeks ago based on a recommendation from Kate of A Playful Day. I listened to this week’s episode this morning on my commute, and am so happy I did! My husband and I are starting a renovation project that involves replacing the insulation in the attic of our Connecticut home, and are completely intrigued by the idea of using wool insulation. We’ve asked our contractor to review Thayne’s product to see if it can work for our space. I never would have dreamed that this was “a thing” without the in-depth interview on Woolful.

    Thanks for sharing such delightful insight from a new-to-me aspect of the fiber industry.


  • Reply Julie December 11, 2015 at 8:57 am

    That was so interesting! A big part of my family are farmers and that fellow sure reminded me of them.

  • Reply Sarah Kay December 11, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Thank you for examining another amazing use for wool!

  • Reply Jamie Dear December 11, 2015 at 11:44 am

    I am still geeking out about wool having the ability to stop a bullet! Incredible!

    • Reply Karen Mullen December 17, 2015 at 11:37 am

      I know right?!

  • Reply floc December 11, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Love this episode – we’re trying to set up something similar in Scotland. Thanks for gifting us this wonderful episode in time for the holidays, when I’ll have time to research more.

  • Reply Victoria December 11, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    That’s very cool! Especially since most of it would have otherwise not been used for yarn! I learned something new today!

  • Reply Julie December 11, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    I loved this episode and am so encouraged by the discussion of the redevelopment of the wool industry in the U.S. We don’t need insulation at present, but I am in the market for a new mattress and was reminded of your earlier posts on shopping for a wool one. Will have to revisit those! Thanks!

  • Reply Tamara White December 11, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    my local postmaster and I were discussing the wool insulation industry – he sells from his meat flocks to a local contractor for insulation, another very local mill also acts as a warehouse for the wool-insulation industry. I can sell my flocks’ fiber, reduced price obviously, to her and she sells it to the contractors. It’s great to think of the many uses for the many things we raise, especially fiber. So excited for your insulation! Can’t wait to hear how it all goes. Thanks for the every-informative and well-prepared podcasts. You’re doing an amazing job!

  • Reply Johanna Giesbrecht December 11, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    I think I might have to listen to this episode a few times, wool as insulation was not a foreign concept but I had never really thought more about the how and why of it. Also wool stopping bullets, never would have ever imagined that!

  • Reply Brenda J December 11, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Fabulous wool stories. Great for insulation for house or body. Would love to visit the Brooklyn store and will follow the yurt insulation with great interest.

  • Reply Charlotte December 12, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Fascinating. Looking forward to hear how you get on insulating the yurt – good luck with it.

  • Reply Lee-Anne December 12, 2015 at 5:21 am

    Brand new to your podcast and heading back into the archive! Thank you for all your hard work. Many hours of listening pleasure ahead!

  • Reply Susan December 12, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Learned a few new things about wool from this podcast. Always fascinating to hear of the myriad ways in which wool can be used in our day to day lives.

  • Reply Traci December 12, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Just trying to imagine a home stuffed with wool. Makes me smile.

  • Reply Vivienne December 12, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    This was a fascinating episode. I learned a lot. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to take advantage of wool insulation in my home!

  • Reply Vikki December 12, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Wool as insulation is a brilliant idea. Thank you for another great episode.

  • Reply Julia December 12, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Bulletproof wool! Amazing!

  • Reply Gayle Lennox December 12, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Your podcast has made me such a more knowledgable consumer. Thank you for the work you do

  • Reply Elaine December 13, 2015 at 1:07 am

    I live in Switzerland now and I know they do nothing with the fleece here, sad. We also rent an apt that has a bit of a mold issue and wish that we could insulate with wool, perhaps whenever we have our own house. Thank you

  • Reply ikkinlala December 13, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Interesting to learn that wool can be used to insulate houses!

  • Reply Ellen December 13, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Great episode!

  • Reply Sandra December 13, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I loved this episode – I knew wool was awesome but the health benefits of using it for insulation were eye-opening. Every week I appreciate you more & more : )

  • Reply Dominique December 13, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Looks like a lovely store!

  • Reply Charles December 13, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Ended up stopping in at Brooklyn general during a weekend visit to ny after hearing about them on your podcast during the drive. Very serendipitous!

  • Reply Rebecca Paquette December 14, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Listened to my first podcast and loved it! Great information on the Montana Green Insulation! My husband is self-employed in construction and this will give be shared information. Learned so much on this podcast. Oh, and FYI, my son just activated in the military and is in Idaho as well now. We are in the Northeast so your world is so new to us. We plan to visit!

  • Reply Meagan December 14, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Interesting journey, beautiful store.

  • Reply Claire M December 14, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Looks and sounds like a great place to visit!

  • Reply ElaineChicago December 14, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Your podcasts are great!! Love that giant Yurt.

  • Reply Anne Westbrook December 14, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    I love that they’re using wool to be more “green”.

    I would also love to visit the store in Brooklyn…looks fun!


  • Reply Stephanie L December 14, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    Great episode and what an awesome way to keep wool domestic!

  • Reply Red December 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    This podcast has really grown on me. I try not to miss an episode. We just insulated with blown in material made from old textiles. Excited to hear there are more options out there.

  • Reply Lacey Goeringer December 14, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you so much!!! You have inspired and taught me so much! Your podcast is amazing and I’m inspired so much by your yurt journey!!!!

  • Reply Amy December 15, 2015 at 4:36 am

    Bullet-proof wool?! Who knew! Great podcast!

  • Reply Terri December 15, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Wow!! Taproot, handspun and a gorgeous cozy shawl pattern. Does it get any better than that? Thank you for your wonderful podcast. I am intrigued by the wool insulation and will be looking into in when we reinsulate our basement, which had suffered a major flood just before I bought the house.

  • Reply Erin December 15, 2015 at 6:23 am

    What a great use of wool.

  • Reply Kentucky Yarnbirds December 15, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Loving this podcast!

  • Reply Gigi Wansor December 16, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I love your podcast! They are so informative and I have learned so much about wool. Thank you,

  • Reply Ellie December 16, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Great episode! I love the info… Thank you…

  • Reply Karen Mullen December 16, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I really enjoyed learning more about wool and it’s R value and other uses. Love how none has to go to waste! I am a big fan of the Tiny House movement, so it was neat to hear that touched upon and how the mill was adjusting their products to fit these new needs!

  • Reply Jennifer December 17, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I was totally expecting to not really enjoy this week’s podcast – didn’t think the topic would be too interesting. But, I loved it! Thanks!

  • Reply Aisha December 17, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I love this episode! I learned so much about the many uses of wool. Thanks

  • Reply Clare December 17, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Thanks for bringing the work of Thayne and his family to our attention! wool is such a miracle, hey?

  • Reply Erin Janvrin December 18, 2015 at 5:17 am

    Thanks so much Ashley– I love the podcast and look forward to listening each week! Take care, Erin

  • Reply Bluenut December 19, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    I’ve just started listening to your lovely podcast, and I’m working my way through in order (cos that’s how I roll!), found out about it from knit fm. It’s cool to just finish listening to the episode about moeke yarn where Ioana talked about wanting to make Romanian merino yarn, and Lo and Behold, you have some in your shop and last weeks give away! Awesome! I also love the look of her other yarns, and her naturally dyed colours.

  • Reply Rachel Mac December 19, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Brilliant! My husband and I have going through the process of designing & (hopefully this spring!) building our first home. It’s a passive heating design and we wanted wool insulation (of course!) but there didn’t seem to be somewhere we could get it from. Glad to see this couple is moving forward on that; hopefully it will start to catch on in Canada too! Goodluck to the Mackey’s – this is just brilliant!

  • Reply Charly December 20, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Thanks so much for the podcast – i love Boho Chic Fibres too!

  • Reply Marilyn December 20, 2015 at 5:15 am

    Fantastic podcast! I always learn something new.

  • Reply LuisaM December 21, 2015 at 3:38 am

    Another inspiring episode, thank you!

  • Reply Cathy B December 21, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I love taproot. Thanks for the opportunity.

  • Reply Inge Kea December 22, 2015 at 8:24 am

    What a fascinating podcast!

  • Reply Susan December 22, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Boy that was an interesting topic and a nice change from knitting. I had no idea there was such a thing as wool insulation. If I ever build a house I will def use wool!

  • Reply michelle December 22, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    hmm, now you’ve got me thinking about whether we can use wool insulation in our place . . .

  • Reply Bridget December 22, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Just came across you podcast and can’t stop listening! Great great show! Thanks!

  • Reply Neza December 23, 2015 at 11:06 am

    I would love to use wool insulation for my own wooden house- someday!

  • Reply Letty December 27, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I’m so excited t know about wool insulation!!!

  • Reply Elle December 31, 2015 at 9:36 am

    This is fascinating stuff. We have a small (couple dozen) sheep here in NoFla. Always looking out for innovations using wool. My husband is a wood guy, too…involved in an insulation project right now, as a matter of fact. Too bad, dang, just too bad I’m listening to this today and not 6 weeks ago!!!! HA! Great blog. As usual. This time, I was compelled to say, “Hey!”

  • Reply Wool, Fabric of History – National Geographic 1988 | Tracing Threads March 17, 2016 at 5:14 am

    […] it also used as an alternative insulation in houses (Woolful has a good podcast about that making a comeback in the US). Note: Just click on an image to make […]

  • Reply Episode 67: Astrid Troland and Caroline Skadhauge – Scandinavian roots, partnership, au naturel and Biches & Bûches – Woolful September 26, 2016 at 11:22 am

    […] Sponsor: Montana Green Insulation is located in Malta, Montana and is a family run operation, by Thayne Mackey, his wife and two children. In 2009 Thayne and his family downsized their farm and started Brookside Woolen Mill where they create their wool insulation product. They run an organic wool processing operation, with high efficiency heating systems, solar water heaters, recycling and settling ponds for waste water, bio-degradable soaps and eco-friendly disposal systems for the vegetable wastes produced by sheep. Their woolen products include Montana Green Sheep Wool Insulation, Reclamation and Revegetation Mats, and Bio-wix wattles and booms for petroleum spills on land and in water. We used the wool insulation for our yurt platform and decided to do so because of the incredible properties of wool insulation and it’s R-value. I hope you’ll consider learning more about wool insulation and using it for your next building project. Find Montana Green Insulation at and listen to Thayne’s fiber journey in episode 43.  […]

  • Reply scott February 1, 2017 at 9:24 am


    Wondering how the wool insulation in the floor of the yurt went? I just ordered a 30′ yurt, and am considering doing the same. Any info you could offer on your system and how you like it would be great!


  • Reply bracelet replique d amour August 29, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    cartierbraceletlove His movie will bomb just like the movie “The Butler”. The reason for that bomb was the fact that Hanoi Fonda was in it. The same will happen to his movie as NRA members will not go and see it and I sure as Hell will not go and see it as Meryl Streep the Liberal is in it.
    bracelet replique d amour

  • Leave a Reply