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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

yarn survey

I am wondering if you could help me out with something.

I would like you to write to me in the comments and tell me if you have a local yarn source. I DO NOT mean your local yarn shop, unless they carry locally produced yarn. This is all about where the yarn came from, and who made it, and if there are knitters out there using it.

1) Have you ever gone to a local farmer's market/sheep and wool festival/farm and fiber tour/other local to you source and bought yarn there? Do you ask for locally produced yarns at the yarn shops you visit?

By local I mean a 100 mile radius.
If that does not apply, think of yarn that may have come from your state, or the state you visited.
If that does not apply, did you seek out yarn from a domestic spinnery, such as Bartlett Yarns or Blackberry Ridge?

2) Do you remember the name of the farm/spinnery/producer the yarn came from? Details?

3) What do you remember about the yarn (weight, colors, softness, durability, the project you used it for, anything)? Would you buy such yarn again, or would you rather buy a name brand? Why?

I need primarily North American sources, but I'd also love to read about all others. To be honest with you, I am not entirely sure where this information will lead me, but I have been talking to a lot of producers in the last year. Now it's time to talk to some knitters, the consumers! If there is anything about yourself that you would like me to know, such as: "I have been knitting since I was two and I buy only undyed yarn from the farm next door"; or "I only just started knitting last year and all I know is malwart yarn. Yarn comes from sheep??" -- add that information.

If you have a blog, please spread the word for me. I would like to get as many answers as possible. I'll leave the survey up until 2/16/09, post the results, and see if I have enough material for an article.

If you know of any threads or groups on Ravelry on the subject, please let me know.



duraknit said...

Karin, I used to live in Maine, where I became acquainted with Bartlett. I do still order from them. I have been to sheep & wool festivals in southern NJ, in PA, and in CT, where I deliberately buy local yarns. Of course, I have very little info right here at my fingertips on those producers. . . a couple in PA are Autumn House yarns (http://www.autumnhousefarm.com/)and Gurdy Run (http://home.att.net/~gurdy/). Autumn House has wonderful colors, and I've made some great socks. Gurdy Run--at least what I've bought-- is natural colors, tightly twisted, and great for boot socks. The first alpaca yarn I ever bought was raised on a farm in PA, but I can't find the name of it; will send later if I stumble across it. The Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival will be on April 25 this year, if you want to go and find some people there. . .I love buying yarn from the people who made it, or the people who sent their fleeces to Bartlett in exchange for yarn.

Knittingchick said...

I'm afraid I wouldn't be of much help to you Karin. When I go yarn shopping I go for the color that grabs my attention and the weight I might need. Then I check out the fiber to make sure it won't irritate me. The last thing I look at is where it's from or who spun it.

slimsdotter said...

Karin, I live in Wyoming. The closest yarn is 48 miles away, a limited selection in the back corner. But... 80 miles away is Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell, NE. They have a factory store, where they sell seconds and mill ends. They also give tours. That's as local as it gets for me. There are a few yarn options in Cheyenne, and a good LYS in Ft Collins, CO. I have driven to Boulder, Co (183 miles) more than once, just for yarn. I realize that isn't what you asked... but yarn is scarce around here!

mad angel said...

Karin, I return to Bartlett over and over again, though I live somewhat farther away than 100 miles. My first experience with it was some I bought from Have Ewe Any Wool at my very first NH Sheep & Wool Festival. They had had their own sheep's fleece processed into yarn, and it was a very good deal. 1 skein free with every 10 purchased. And I believe the skeins, at that time, were some insanely wonderful price, like $3.50 each. It's not as cheap as that now, of course, but I think it's a very good value for the money, and it makes terrific, hard-wearing outer garments.

Apart from that, I also like a alot of Berroco yarns, such as Ultra Alpaca in its various weights. Berroco is based in Uxbridge, MA, about 10 minutes from where I live. I don't think they use any wool from local sources, but the factory is nearby, anyway. The yarns of theirs I have used so far seem also a very good vale for the money.

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

I usually buy both wool and fleece that is local to me. There is a mill about 2 hours away and lots and lots of fibre available on the island ( i live in Victoria on Vancouver Island off the coast of BC Canada north of Seattle). When i'm buying yarn i go for local first, then thrift store or someone who is destashing. Not that i never buy other stuff but it's not what i usually buy. Does that help?

magnusmog said...

I'll have a think and let you know of any Scottish local-spun yarn other than the obvious Shetland.....

Joan said...

Over the holidays a friend of mine visited from Bath NY and had knitted a wonderful coat, the Vino Cardigan, from wool she bought from Mount Saviour Yarns Monastery in Pine City NY. They have a website. Google for it. It comes in 4 weights and about 6 colors from their own flock. It's truly wonderful and I ordered a batch for myself. It's sold in their gift shop and on line. You order and one of the monks calls you for your payment information and to confirm your order. It's nice and soft, well spun and blooms when washed. I love it!

Dawn Brocco said...

Hi Karin,
Good question.

I've used Bartlettyarns (Maine), Fingerlakes Woolen Mill's yarns (NY) and have tried Cestari (Virginia).

I love Beaverslide (Montana), but it's spun in Canada. Compared to some countries of origin, Canada is local! Very soft yarn, nice range of colors.

Love Peace Fleece (Maine, but are blended wools and mohair from US, Russia and Romania).

Love Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride, both weights (Nebraska, domestic wool).

I've used yarn from a small cooperative of sheep farmers in West Virginia, called Helvetia Shepherds Association. This wool yarn is in natural, VERY lanolin-laden hues, sturdy, rustic.

I've also used Kraemer Yarns Naturally Nazareth yarn, made in PA from domestic wool. I like it for house socks.

None of these are within the 100 mile limit. I don't think there's too many knitters who have a sheep farm (that grows for wool, not meat) next door to get their yarn at, so I'd be interested in your survey results/article!

uufarmgirl said...

I have a local sheep farm (Icelandic and Shetland) about 30 miles away. I've been there several times and bought finished yarn and spinning fiber. I try not toengage the owner too much; she's krazy konservative. They're not soft breeds but the yarns are sturdy and wellspun. I try to make it my first stop, but they don't work for everything.

melanie said...

(I don't know if this info will help, but here goes...) I am a member of the Walloomsac Farmer's Market in Bennington which requires all vendors sell products produced on/by their farms. I was allowed to feature my naturally dyed yarns (organic wools from an American mill) because they featured processes done on my farm, and with local plants, or plants indigenous to our area.

Many customers stopped to "talk wool" and a few asked if it had come from my own sheep, but none were looking for local yarn - it was just a conversation starter. Those that purchased did so for the color...in other words, that is what attracted them, they were happy with the texture/weight, and so bought. A few people who were used to malwart prices on unnatural fibers were shocked at the cost of the yarn, but those who were more experienced knitters and had actually heard of dyeing your own yarn, thought the price was fine.

I am going to feature some of my own yarns this summer as well as more naturally dyed, milled yarns. Local production will certainly be a selling point, but one that will be made by me, and not necessarily asked for by the shopper.

The only local yarn I have used is from a sheep lady in Great Barrington, and her yarn (Lila's Mountain Wool) is not easy to come by. But I wouldn't go looking for it either. It is a nice utility wool, nothing spectacular, but certainly fun to play with. I have only knit hats, ear warmers, and mittens from it.

All that being said, I have Pygora fleece coming out my ears, and need to find a processing plant that can remove the guard hairs. Then it can be made into yarn...and we'll see where that goes! Lots of spinners have asked for some, but more because of the exotic nature of the fiber, not because it was produced locally.

jackie said...

Hi Karin, I tried the Farmhouse yarn years ago and decided I didn't care for it and wouldn't buy it again.I found it to be stiff and broke too easily. I did purchase some yarn from Cranberry Moon or farm? Its over in Mass. I got it at the Sheep and Wool Fest. I would buy locally produced yarn if it was readily accessible and I knew about it. I'd buy it natural and dye it myself or dyed if the colors caught my eye. i tend to buy yarn even if I don't have a project going, I just love natural fibers and COLOR, lots of vivid,Wow, full of life/emotion punch colors!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have been trying more and more to get local yarn when I can. In fact, it's the way I've tried to limit my stash (notice try) because I don't make a purchases of yarn without a project in mind UNLESS it's locally produced. So, that is how I found Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (yes, I visited her dye shop!!! wahoo!!) and am a huge fan. Nancy is in Willits, CA.
I've just discovered some wonderful locally raised, sheered, spun, and dyed yarn in Bodega Bay, CA. here is a link to their stuff: http://www.bodeganet.com/BodegaPastures/wool.html I love the fact that it is so local, organic, and original, but the yarn is definitely less refined which limits the projects that it can be used for.
Outside of the U.S. I made a point of getting local yarn in New Zealand - The Wool Company. One hundred percent recommend it! It's probably more industrial/commericial than what you are looking for but it is locally produced, etc.
I also have some friends that spin and I use their yarn when I'm so lucky but I don't think their roving is always local.
Why do I not use local yarn? Most local yarn is rougher and with fewer selections. Most people I know that spin or produce locally aren't making fingering or lace weight yarns so that puts lace and sock patterns out of the running. Then it becomes a question of softness and wearability. However, I'm going to try felting just so I can make use of some of the Bodega Pastures yarn I bought.
Oh, and a reason to buy local? They do custom orders! Bodega pastures will do custom from sheep source to color. (I haven't done it yet). I'm also sure Chasing Rainbows would be willing to do so.

leah said...

recently i have purchased hand spun and dyed merino at craft fairs from two women here in the northeast. jill draper from kingston, ny and lulubeans from portland, maine. both do beautiful work and have shops on etsy. i find that there are many spinners out there who spin small skeins of beautiful yarn (approx. 100 yards) that i am drawn to but don't always know what to do with such small amounts.

i love morehouse as you know. local sheep but not locally spun or dyed.

also i have been intrigued by fiber csa -- purchasing a farm share. i found one called wool hand crafts in vermont and another called hudson valley fiber.

hope this helps.