farm wool

i’ve been wanting to write up an entry on farm wool for a while… and what better time than when i just get a box full in the mail? in The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, Clara Parkes recommends that we “Consider [farm yarns] the ‘whole grain’ versions of the highly refined white-bread yarns you’ll find in yarn stores.”  That said, they are lovely roughish wools good for outerwear and accessories.  Parkes also points out that most farm yarns are minimally processed, which proves better for everyone involved.  i bought these skeins off of craigslist, after looking at the photo and deciding that it wasn’t your normal every day yarn and guessing that it was probably farm wool. and no, i’m totally the dork who did not ask the person what kind of yarn it was!

farm wools

one small blue skein from Autumn House Farm, 4 skeins of this blue from Walnut Bottom Farm, and 5 skeins of the red from Bartlett Yarns, plus one skein of white and two of green, probably from one of these sources. it was a good haul for $3 a skein.  scrummy lofty, fluffy wools.

close-up

technically, the mulespun from bartlett is not a farm wool, but i would consider small spinneries wool very close in feeling to farm wool in more than just texture. small spinneries like bartlett and green mountain usually work directly with farmers to buy the fleeces that go into their yarns, giving them control over who they buy from and giving the farmers more money for their fleece. also similar to farm yarn, the yarns produced by small spinneries are low process and better for the environment and for us! either way, you’re getting right up and personal with the people who keep the sheep or the people who do the dyeing and spinning, and sometimes all three.

farm wool handspun

i also like to, when possible, buy my wool roving/fleeces directly from farms. when i lived in vancouver, there was one particular farm that dyed its own wool and sold through my wool shop.  i would pass up combed merino top any day to have some of their slightly rough and fun wool.  the wool shown on the left above is from the farm in bc, bought as dyed lambswool locks, hand carded by me and then spun.  the right skein – light blue wool – is from a different farm also around vancouver. i bought a bag of dyed straight off the sheep wool one year at fiberfest. i scoured, carded, and spun the wool and then plied with some of my hand dyed multi-colored corriedale.  another reason to love farm wool, unique local flair and supporting your actual neighbors!  connection.

firstish crocheting

my love of farmish wool goes back quite a ways. when i was a newish knitter still, my mother-in-law and i took a crochet class while i was visiting in alaska. they recommended some smooth acrylic to practice on, but i was having none of that. i chose this crazy blue roughish stuff (i’m thinking it’s philosopher’s wool?!?).  apparently i’ve always liked yarn with some texture to it… and that it can be a part of helping out farmers, the earth, and small companies while i’m at it is fabulous.

so questions.  have you ever tried farm wool?  did you like it?  where did it come from?  i’m fishing for your stories here.  it’s even okay if you hated it ;)

currently, the one i’m hankering to try is beaverslide dry goods.  even better that they’re from montana! my homeground.

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13 thoughts on “farm wool

  1. I bought some yarn from Marr Haven farms, a local Michigan organic farm that sells cones of their own, mule-spun, organic rambouillet/merino blend. I opted for the undyed, which is so gorgeous and rustic and has a ton of lanolin. I love it! I’m trying to buy more local yarns when I can.

  2. I agree! I received some lovely farm yarn from a friend who got it at the local farmers market. When I told some of the girls at my knitting group about it they said oh I saw that at the farmers market, but I thought it was too scratchy! I don’t mind the bit of the barn in my yarn.

    I love to spin plain old wool too! I love the natural colors from alpaca and sheep.

    I wish I could remember the name of this local farm…

  3. I buy the rough wool as often as I can, it just feels right, so natural, but mine often comes from thrift stores. Very few have a label, so I can’t even begin to tell where they came from. Last week, I found thirteen skeins of laceweight at the thrift store. It is definitely handspun, but again, no idea what type of fiber. I also seem to have a higher tolerance than most people around me for the rougher fiber, so I need to take that into account when I am knitting for people.

  4. There’s this yarn shop in the town I grew up in- Mt. Holly, NJ called woolbearers. http://www.woolbearers.com/

    They opened when I had moved away already, but one visit I walked in and started talking to the owners. One of the owners also owns a farm and keeps her own sheep. She sends the wool out to get spun, but dyes it herself. It’s really great wool- hearty and has great bounce. They have a ton of great stuff in their shop, but I can’t get that wool anywhere else. LOVE IT

  5. I really enjoy the wooly, lanolin-y farm wools. Two of my favorite yarns are Bartlett’s Fisherman yarn and Beaverslide’s McTaggart Tweed. I absolutely love them…the rustic look, the feeling of them in my hands, the wooly smell, all of it. I hope you do get to give Beaverslide a try, it’s amazing stuff.

    I’m hoping to find some good local farms when I go to a local fiber festival next weekend.

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  7. After reading your post I thought the yarn I scored for 2 dollars a hank at a garage sale was farm wool. I looked at the label and it says “manufactured in Canada by Briggs & Little Woolen Mills Ltd.” Anyway, it has all the qualities of farm wool. It’s rough, wooly smelling, and contains bits of straw. I’ve always been a fan of scratchy wool and I’m lucky because it doesn’t bother me to wear it close to my skin. I’m knitting a sweater out of some of my garage sale wool right now. I’m excited to finish it, wear it, and smell wool all day when I do.

  8. I absolutely LOVE bartlett yarns and have a collections growing of it. I am currently working on a nubby cardigan, plus I’ve done a hat, a cowl, a scarf and I have a stranded stocking going plus I have enough for two bags, that I ahven’t started yet… I love the way it feels, I love the way it smells, I love the way my hands feel after knitting with it. I love that it is made in the USA.

    Can you tell? I love bartlett yarns!

  9. hi, nice article & I like your patterns. I have 30 romney type natural color ewes in all shades of grey to dk brown & I love spinning their wool. I also sell fleeces & roving.

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