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!
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.
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.
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.
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.