More Than Just Yarn

Let me preface this by saying that this in no way is a judgment on other yarn producers or what your preferences as a yarn consumer are. It's merely an explanation of the thought process that goes into our yarn.

Fia, Hazel, and Holly - Our first sheep

As our flock has grown, so have my ideas and ways of thinking about their wool has grown. At first, there's just the pure excitement of the first shearing, the first skirting, the first "what shall this be turned into," the first drop off to the mill, the first pick up from the mill, and the first opening of the bags and holding what you have been caring for over the past year in your hands and taking that first proud whiff of sheepy goodness. I will never forget that first batch of yarn that we got back! It still brings a lump to my throat. And it's not so much that I am proud of what we accomplished through that first batch, but that I could truly see the amazing gift that these sweet beings provide for us, all of us.

So let me take you back to the beginning of our yarn producing journey. From the very start, we made the decision that we wanted to keep our colors of yarn natural. We wanted to keep fleeces individual. And we wanted our yarn to be pure breed. And over the past couple of years, there has been some experimentation trying to figure out which fleeces like to be which weights of yarns. An enormous piece of this experimentation has been finding a mill that best suits our needs personally and who is willing to work with us in how we want our yarn. This is HUGE! Without that great relationship and communication with the mill, the yarn will suffer. Everything you have worked for will suffer.

So to better organize my thoughts, I'm going to section this off into four ideas: Natural colored, Pure breed, Small batch, and The Mill.

Natural colored:

Now that we have been producing yarn for a little over two years now, it still amazes me when customers are surprised that we have sheep that are the colors of yarn that they are holding in their hands! You would be surprised how many people think that sheep only come in two colors, black or white. But this is also a great opportunity to educate a potential customer about the array of colors that can be found in the natural color rainbow. And this always brings a smile to their faces!

The decision to keep the majority of our yarn natural colored was an easy one to make. I couldn't bare the thought of masking their colors, that were unique to each of them, with dye. Addie's soft sandy buff color is all her. Lacie's silver, charcoal grey, and black could never be copied because it is unique to her DNA. Natural colors have tried to be recreated through dyes, but to me, they always look artificial. And by no means do I have issues with dyed yarns! Not in the least! But for me as a producer of sheep and wool, I want my customers to have a small piece of what I get to see and touch and live every single day. I want them to hold a skein of Hazel or of Bruce and know this is what they truly look like, aren't they beautiful?!

That being said, being mostly natural colored comes with its challenges and fair amount of education to the buyer. My "colorways" can never be repeated. They are truly OOAK (one of a kind). Many factors go into the changing of wool colors from shearing to shearing. We don't coat our sheep, so the sun plays a part in the "dyeing" or lightening of their wool. Age can play a factor in it, as well. Some of our sheep get lighter with age, some get darker depending on the breed. Some may just have a genetic disposition that their wool changes color. Nutrition can also play a part. But to me, this is part of the charm of what we are striving to do. I think it helps create an awareness to the buyer that this is really special stuff! One's garment will truly be the only one out there, even if one buys yarn from the same sheep a year later because quite possibly, it could have changed.

Natural Colored Yarn from Our Flock

Pure breed:

Our next criteria of our yarn is that it is "pure breed" only. I'm sure you're thinking, "How snobby!" By pure breed, I don't necessarily mean that the yarn has to come from a pedigreed animal, which a lot of times it does. But rather, I mean that the yarn will not be blended with any other breeds, fibers, or synthetic materials. So Lincoln Longwool yarn will always be just that, 100% Lincoln Longwool. It is the same for the Romney and for the Romeldale/CVM. I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Wait a second! I have purchased yarn or know that you have have Romlinc or CVM x Romney yarn." And this is totally true. However, these yarns are not a blend of Romney and Lincoln or CVM and Romney. They are the genetic crosses of two pure bred sheep to create a crossbred offspring creating their own "pure breed" wool/yarn.

To me, this criteria is the most important, as silly or trivial as it may seem. And here is why. I want customers to experience the true wool/yarn qualities from each our breeds. I don't want them to be "enhanced" or "softened" or changed in anyway. I want each breed's wool to shine in all of its wooly glory and for people to realize that every type of wool out there has its own purpose and usefulness, and shouldn't be considered second rate or of lesser quality because it's not from a certain "popular" breed. Maybe I'm doing myself a disservice to my business because of this. Sure, if I were to blend everything to make it super soft, maybe I would sell more yarn. Maybe I wouldn't have to educate and explain uses for each breed (which I totally love doing, by the way). Maybe.