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30% off semi-solid cotton yarn

What Makes New England Fingering Yarn Special?

Posted by Sarah Buchanan on

This is my first line of wool yarn, and I wanted to create something unique, sustainably sourced, and long-lasting. The easy option would have been to create a wholesale account somewhere and purchase yarn milled across the globe from sheep raised in some other distant location.
But my mission has always been about more than dyeing beautiful fiber and yarn, it’s about changing how our textile goods are sourced. My roving is all USA sourced, and I’ve been to most of the farms, so I wanted to continue that ethos.
 
Locks clockwise from upper left: Merino, Finn, Dorset, and Shetland
Sampling

I wanted to source all wool from New England and first started with sampling breeds from The Spinning Loft. I had selected breeds based on a few categories: softness, staple length, luster, and durability. These criteria led me to choose Finn, Southdown, Dorset Down, CVM/Romeldale, Cheviot, and Cormo. Initially, I was going to have 20% cotton in the yarn, but after sampling decided to switch to Merino for a 100% wool yarn.

I started with 3 blends and a subset of the breeds I selected including Southdown, Finn, Dorset Down, and Shetland. I drumcarded each blend, knit a swatch, then put them in my pants pocket for 2 weeks to see how they stood up.

I liked the results so much, that I didn’t try any other blends! Blend #1 (pink swatch) showed signs of wear throughout the sample, but was very soft. Blend #2 (green swatch) showed only slight wear, but was not as soft as blend #1. Blend #3 (blue swatch) was just right! No signs of wear, good stitch definition, and softness made it a winner.

sample swatches

Blend #1 (pink): 70% Southdown, 20% cotton, 10% Finn; Blend #2 (green): 50% Finn, 30% Dorset Down, 20% cotton; Blend #3 (blue): 30% Finn, 30% Shetland, 20% Dorset Down, 20% cotton

Contacting Local Farms

Once the blend was decided, I started contacting farms for each breed to see what was available. Sourcing is always a challenge when you’re looking for specific breeds or a large quantity, but I was able to find shepherdesses who had enough fleeces for a small 50lb run of the yarn. The farms are located mostly in Vermont, but the Shetland is sourced from New Hampshire.



Local Processing

I did an extra skirting of all the fleeces, leading to a blend that is slightly different than I initially sampled for. Next, everything was off to Green Mountain Spinnery for organic processing! Waiting was the hardest part, even though it was only about 4 months, I was so excited to see how the yarn turned out, it felt much longer than that.

Final Steps

The final steps to get the yarn ready to sell were skeining and dyeing. So many steps and lots of time went into sampling, sourcing, dyeing, and packaging the yarn you see and squish, but it was totally worth it to create something that supports local farmers and is a unique blend of fibers that my customers can enjoy creating with.

 Shop collection!

Now to get more fleeces for batch #2!

-Sarah


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