It’s Week 5 of Slow Fashion October already, our final week (such as it is), and our theme is KNOWN. Let’s talk about favorite sustainable resources / the changing concept of “local” / traceable fabric and yarn origins / traceable garment origins / reference books, films, videos. How much do we know, where did we find or learn it, and how can we share both the resources and the knowledge?
At the core of “slow” anything — slow food or slow fashion — is knowing (i.e, asking) where things come from. Buying meat from a nearby farmer that was butchered just down the road is a whole different exercise from buying meat in a chain grocery store and having no idea who raised it, under what conditions; what factory it was processed in, and when; how it was handled between that factory and you. No way of knowing what exactly it is you’re buying or who and what you’re supporting with your money, other than the grocery chain’s CEO. Same thing goes for clothes. Once you start asking where your shirt or your fabric or your yarn comes from, you become more aware of the entire chain of farmers and mills and factories and global shipping companies and distributors and retailers that all have a role in getting fleece or plant fiber from the farm to your closet or your stash. And you start to make more thoughtful decisions about what you put your money into. Or you try to, anyway.
The fact is, knowing is hard — both the finding things out and the knowing what to do about what you know or don’t know. I’m exhausted and limp-brained right now trying to formulate thoughts about it. Buying clothing from a small-batch designer with in-house production instead of a mall store cuts out a lot questions and middlemen to wonder about, but they’re still sewing with fabric they probably can’t tell you much about. Fabric is the hardest, which you know if you sew. Maybe you know something about the fabric company, maybe they’ll tell you what country the fabric was made in, and you can take their word (or not) for whether that distant factory operates in ethical ways, paying their workers a living wage and providing a safe working environment. But even then, where did the fiber come from? How was it dyed? Once you start pulling that thread (no pun intended) you realize how long and tangled it is.
Yarn is the easiest. Not all yarns are transparent — not by a long shot — but a lot of them are, and listing some of those is a thing I can do! I’m focusing on the US because that’s where I am, but what I would love to see this week is a whole lot of listing and sharing. So here’s my sliding-scale overview of some conscientious yarn options, which I truly hope you’ll build on:
– Farm yarns: As I mentioned last week, farm yarns — yarns sold by the farmers who raised the animals — can be found at farmers’ markets and fiber festivals everywhere. When you buy directly from a farmer (especially a local one whose farm you might even visit), you not only support the farmer directly, but you can get to know basically everything about that yarn, from the specific breed of animal/fiber to how and where the yarn was milled. Farm yarns vary greatly in terms of how big the batches are and what the price is, depending on how big their flock is, how far the fleece has to travel (round-trip) to be processed, and whether they’re only selling it themselves or whether there’s distribution involved. You’ve got tiny little enterprises like Sawkill Farm or Green Bow Farm (or those without even a website) at one end of the spectrum and Imperial Ranch Yarns at the other end, where they’re producing significant amounts of yarn and distributing it through yarn stores everywhere, but it’s still ultimately farm yarn, bearing the label of the ranch it comes from.
– Boutique yarns (for lack of a better term): I’m thinking mainly about a breed of yarn store owners who’ve developed their own small-batch yarn, working with farmers and/or a mill. Examples: 1) Heirloom from Fancy Tiger Crafts, who developed their all-Romney yarn in conjunction with Elemental Affects. Jaime and Amber can tell you anything you want to know about the two farms where the sheep are raised and the mill where it’s spun. 2) Snoqualmie Valley Yarn, which Anna at Tolt Yarn and Wool had spun from the previously unused fleece of a neighbor farmer’s BFL–Clun Forest sheep. 3) Several yarns, at this point, from Kristine Vejar at A Verb for Keeping Warm, who likewise is gathering fleece from a variety of compelling sources and having these site- and breed-specific yarns milled, which she then naturally dyes. These include Pioneer, Big Sky, Clover and Flock. 4) She’s not a yarn store owner, but I would also put wool guru Clara Parkes’ Clara Yarn in this category, among many others.
– Mill yarns: Just like a lot of farms produce and sell their own yarn, so do some mills. Harrisville and Green Mountain Spinnery are two prominent examples of mills that spin yarn for other well-known brands as well as for their own line. Mill yarns can be a little more affordable than smaller-batch farm and boutique yarns because there’s one less link in the supply chain. Mini-mills do tiny batches of yarn from a wide variety of fleeces and farms because they don’t require the same volume of fleece in order to spin a batch. For instance, you never know what Abundant Earth Fiber might have on offer at any given time.
– Brooklyn Tweed: An example of a small yarn company with a little bit higher volume leading to a more affordable yarn but still with lots of transparency. BT discloses the entire supply chain of the yarn — from the scouring plant in Texas to the dye house in Pennsylvania to the mill in New Hampshire. We also know that the fleece is a mix of Columbia and Targhee from sheep raised in Wyoming — the only thing we don’t know is exactly what farms the fleece comes from.
– Quince and Co: A little further down the transparency spectrum, Quince yarns are a great and very well-priced option for anyone wanting to know that what they’re buying was subject to US laws and restrictions, and not shipped in from around the globe. Bigger yarn companies buy fleece from brokers. The wool comes from all over the world and is sorted by color and diameter and other qualities, as opposed to by breed or point of origin. So when you see “100% wool” on a yarn label, that’s really all you know — it could come from anywhere or be from any number of kinds of sheep. Quince, on the other hand, uses only US-raised fleece for their wool yarns, so while we don’t know the specific breed, much less the specific farm(s) raising it, we do know it’s all sourced and processed in the US.
Obviously, these yarns are a drop in the bucket. I’m leaving out dozens of great, affordable, transparent options. I would love it if you would enumerate them in the comments! Especially those specific to other parts of the world.
And will someone PLEASE do a similar roundup of conscientious, traceable fabric options? I’m begging you.
EDITED TO ADD: I realized this morning I left out the entire category of hand-dyers. It wasn’t an intentional omission but I admit it may have subconsciously been due to the fact that the hand-dyeing subset of the yarn business is complicated. Not a lot of dyers are developing their own yarns or even particularly mindful of origin. When asked, many or most couldn’t tell you where the fleece came from — they’re buying finished, undyed yarn from mills or brokers based on a huge variety of factors and preferences, and origin may or may not be one of them. On top of that, many hand-dyers use primarily superwash wools, which are very heavily processed. Hand-dyers are lovely people who adore yarn — some of my best friends are dyers! — and when you buy from them, you’re supporting small/local businesses, and that’s all good. Several dyers focus on natural (non-superwash) fibers, and there are some that offer known-origins yarns but the ones that spring to mind did so in the past and have moved away from that level of specificity. So if you want to buy from a hand-dyer and you have questions about their yarns or their process, check their websites for details and/or ask them.
EDITED AGAIN TO ADD: I’ve highlighted four dyers on Instagram this afternoon.
PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Elsewhere, Slotober edition 3
Photos © Anna Dianich / @toltyarnandwool
Offset Warehouse (http://www.offsetwarehouse.com/) might be something! I just found them so I haven’t had the chance to test the fabrics yet, but they look gorgeous and are organic, fairtrade and pretty transparent in their production!
NPR’s Planet Money did a store a few years ago about where your Tshirts come from. Materials from the USA were shipped out of the country and then back again to make the shirt. How can that be cheaper than just doing the job here? With fabric, just being organic doesn’t guarantee that it was ethically processed.
Great round up! I agree that knowing about the supply chain is important for integrity and I wish I knew more about fabric. I know that Brooke of Sincere Sheep sources all of her wool domestically and hand-dyes it all using plant materials. She inspired me to source some fleeces from a local farmer, and I had it milled locally as well. Seeing the cost of domestically-produced products (i.e. everyone along the chain gets a living wage for their work) makes me wonder how much mill and fabric workers and fiber farmers are getting paid in other countries.
Three other yarns to add to the list from a Canadian perspective:
Custom Woolen Mills produces its own mule spun yarn sourced locally from Alberta farms and then spun and dyed at the mill with minimal processing and without harsh chemicals.
Beaverslide Dry Goods is yarn from a merino farm in Montana, and the yarn is spun and dyed in Alberta at Custom Woolen Mills and then shipped back to Montana.
Briggs and Little is less transparent but still yarn sourced and made in Canada.
Thanks so much for this list, Karen! I wanted to add a couple of Canadian companies for anyone up north: Custom Woolen Mills (http://www.customwoolenmills.com/) and Briggs & Little (http://www.briggsandlittle.com/). They both source from domestic sheep farms, and are completely processed on site. I haven’t used any yarn from Custom yet, but can vouch that Briggs & Little are great for durability and beautiful heather shades. The price is also amazing: I’m knitting a Bellows cardigan right now with a single strand of Atlantic from B&L, and the total cost was about $70 CAD :)
I wanted to thank you for your post on shoes. I actually ponied up for a pair of Nisolos and they are beautiful. I have the fussiest feet, and I am still breaking them in, but I think they are going to be good.
Can someone post a link to the shoe post? I can’t find it! Thank you so much 😊
That’s great! I actually picked up a pair of the loafers after I wrote the post, and love them. I didn’t get to wear them much before the cold weather set in, but it’s good to know I’ll have something cool on my feet come spring :)
I loved working with the softspun lopi from custom woolen mills for Sylvia Olsen’s Salish colourwork hat workshop in Vancouver this month. So much that I just ordered a sweater’s worth! :)
Another great theme this week! I’ve really loved following along and participating this month.
I agree that fabric is very hard. I don’t sew a lot so I tend to limit myself to second hand fabric.
Here is an off the top of my head list of what I’ve found around me so far yarn-wise. There are plenty more, of course, this list is just a start:
– de rerum natura
– Ardelaine (great background story about a community restoring a non-functioning mill)
– Filature du Valgaudemar
– le mohair des fermes de France
In Germany there is the Finkhof mill and in Portugal there are the retrosaria yarns. There is a lot of traceable yarn in the UK, and Blacker Yarns is a great starting place for that. I made a Kate Davies design, the Fantoosh shawl, out of Blacker’s lyonesse and I love wearing it and knowing that the wool in it is specifically from Falkland Islands sheep!
There’s also Rosy Green Wool, a young German brand offering Wools spun in the UK.
But the wool is from south america…
But GOTS certificated..
Here are three more known-source yarns to add to the list from a Canadian perspective:
Custom Woolen Mills is a small family run fiber mill in Southern Alberta that sources fiber from Western Canada. They make a mule spun yarn with minimal processing and without the use of harsh chemicals.
Beaverslide Dry Goods is a farm produced yarn from Montana that is processed at Custom Woolen Mills.
Briggs and Little is a New Brunswick fiber mill that while less transparent, still produces Canadian made yarn from Canadian sourced fiber.
alabamachanin.com has locally sourced cotton knit fabrics for sale by the yard and fat quarter plus great garment and pattern ideas for using it.
if you are looking for eco-friendly organic fabrics you can try honeybegood.com.
Great post, great month, Karen. I have learned a lot and discovered new treasures, some of which were already in my closet.
As for local yarns, there are two in my neck of the woods (northern Cal) I thought I’d mention. Sincere Sheep ( which I think I’ve heard you talk about) and Twirl Yarn. Sadly, I have not tried either, but mean to remedy that soon.
Such a good list of yarn resources! Thank you for this and for this month of mindfulness and discussion around the web. I don’t want it to end…and hopefully it won’t. :) I’d love for you to stop by my little spot this week as well- I had fun with this prompt! http://janejojulia.weebly.com/blog/slow-fashion-known
Another Canadian yarn is Topsy Farms – it’s an Ontario yarn that is milled in PEI. I used it for the leaves in my Laurus hat if anyone is curious to see how it looks (if you click my name it will take you to my Instagram and there’s a photo there). I’ve also emailed a bit with the owners because I was trying to arrange a visit the last time that I was in Canada and they were super nice – always a plus in my book.
I knit a whole sweater out of Topsy and I wear it every day! I loved it!
Hi Amanda. Warm thanks for your comments on this site. You’ve sent us a gift of a new enquiry. Living on a gravel road on an Island, we aren’t in great drive by location. As oldies, my husband and I are learning the knack of how to attract Google’s attention. We’re at http://store.topsyfarms.com/yarn What colour did you choose? What source for the yarn? Thanks again Amanda. Sally Bowen, Topsy Farms
Hello Olivia We’re grateful that you added us to this most interesting topic discussion. And warm thanks for the compliment. Sally and Ian, Topsy Farms
I just wanted to say that I find this all very interesting. I’ve never heard of the slow movements before, so I’m hearing things that I never really considered.
Glad you found it! A lot of people who participated were already coming in with some prior knowledge, but it’s awesome to see people who are new to this and becoming more interested :)
I wrote two comments that somehow didn’t make it, so if I end up repeating myself, sorry. Anyway, wonderful and helpful post, thanks so much Karen and others. I thought I’d mention two yarn companies local to my neck of the woods, Northern California. One is Sincere Sheep (which I am almost sure I’ve seen you mention here, Karen), and the other is Twirl Yarn. Sadly, I have not worked with either, but mean to remedy that soon.
Thanks so much for this list. I started reading about superwash and processing about the same time as I was having a very bad experience with some Madeline Tosh yarn that just won’t stop leaking dye. I now have nearly enough MT left from a couple of projects to make a kid’s sweater, but have been caught between doing that to use it up which feels like responsible consumption and the fact that I have been so turned off from that sort of yarn. This post has inspired me to sell it to one of the hundreds of tosh fans on ravelry and spend the money on some farm yarns or similar that I’ll appreciate instead. It’s hard when you’re in that switching over mode, knowing what to do with things you’ve fallen out of like with!
This is so true. If it is something that can be sold onto someone else that would use it that is probably the better option as it then stops them from purchasing it new resulting in less production (in a very small way) and you get to justify using something that you would really appreciate and fits with your mindset at the time.
I feel you on the MT yarn…I stayed away for so long because it was expensive, then finally splurged last year to make a Square and Stripe sweater. It was beautiful, right up until the first time I wore it and the dye under the armpits sweated away :(
Ugh. Sorry to hear it. Well if you want to have fun you can go and complain about it on the MadelineTosh lovers group, and then count the “disagrees” (even if you post a photo) It doesn’t quite make up for the pain of knitting something and then it being ruined, but it’s sort of funny. Anyway, I will stop dwelling on this and work my way through this fantastic list that has appeared on this post! What a great resource.
A great small dyer with traceable origin yarns is Melissa from Hey Lady Hey (http://www.heyladyhey.com/), who does glorious colorways to boot. I think some of her older fibers (especially the color lines from this spring) are sourced farther out, but she recently had her own batch of yarns done from fleeces she purchased on her own!
This is small and very far down the chain. For anyone in MN (I’m sure she would ship as well), there is Tinshack Co – she has a beautiful store and produces yarn from her own flock of Shetland sheep. The colors are all natural and labeled with the name of the sheep. http://www.tinshackco.com/Home_Page.html
Stonehedge Fiber Mill is in Michigan and one of my favorite yarns.
I use Beaverslide Dry Goods yarns more than any other. They are farm yarns. I thought I would give them another mention as you have not worked with their yarns before, but they have been around a long time. They use a mill in Alberta and that way their yarns do not have to travel much before they sell them.
This has been a great exploration. I’ve mostly been a reader of other’s contributions, but I wanted to add a resource that I discovered a few years ago. Here is the link to Fibershed, an inspiring local and in depth project in Northern CA: http://www.fibershed.com
You seem to have left out O-Wool. Check them out. Also, I visited Green Mountain Spinnery in May. Very small and employee-owned and boy, could you smell the sheep! Great yarn, too.
I’m definitely a huge O-Wool fan, with three sweaters in my closet: http://o-wool.com/
Love this week’s topic!! Especially looking forward to learning of fabric resources.
I am in the UK, so thought I would note some of the yarns I know of:-
Hole & Sons – Farm Yarns – (one of your favourites!) http://www.holeandsons.com/
Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop – Farm Yarns – mail order – http://wensleydalelongwoolsheepshop.co.uk/
Blacker Yarns – Mill Yarns – http://www.blackeryarns.co.uk/
John Arbon – Mill Yarns – https://www.jarbon.com/
Baa Ram Ewe – Boutique Yarns – Their own yarns ‘Titus’ and ‘Dovetail’ http://baaramewe.co.uk/collections/yarn?variant=3720491524
Then you have the Shetland Wools such as Jamieson & Smith http://www.shetlandwoolbrokers.co.uk/epages/BT2741.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/BT2741/Categories
Knit British is a great resource blog and podcast http://www.knitbritish.net/
They have a British ‘BreedSwatchAlong’ going on at the moment on Ravelry
I don’t know any resources for fabrics but thought this video documentary might interest some of your readers. It is about women and girls trafficked into cotton mills, so relating to fabrics supply chain I guess. Its called ‘Sumangali’ by STOP the Traffik https://vimeo.com/stopthetraffikglobal
Thank you so much for starting ‘Slo-tober’ it is a wonderful way for people to discuss and share around these topics.
For yarn I’d like to add Solitude Wool, they have a whole bunch of single breed/single farm yarns, especially from the Eastern US. And Mountain Meadow Wool, they are a mill and source from farms around their area (WY) and seem to be making very conscious decisions about eco-friendly processing, etc.
I’m working on the fabric thing …
One of my new favorites that is certainly within this continuum is O-wool: http://www.o-wool.com. Really nice yarn and reasonably-priced.
It looks like Cestari is grown and processed in the US (according to their website: http://www.cestarisheep.com/about.html). I’ve fallen in love with their Traditional Collection 2-Ply Worsted that I bought from Tolt. I made myself a cardigan (pattern in the works) and my husband immediately wanted a pullover in the exact same yarn. It has this buttery softness combined with a serious rugged nature that I can’t get over.
Anna loves Cestari so much, I really need to knit with it.
I can’t believe the month is almost over! I contacted some of the larger fabric producers a little while ago and compiled a post about where their fabric is produced, based on the information I was given: http://englishgirlathome.com/2015/05/28/fabric-revolution/ I’m based in the UK and am taking part in a fibreshed project (#1year1outfit) this year so have also been compiling a list of British made fabrics for others in the UK who want to use local fibres
Thank you so much for writing about this topic – and even more of a “thank you” for mentioning my little shop, http://www.offsetwarehouse.com, Simone!
As crafters, it’s so important to know exactly where all our beautiful fabrics are from – I couldn’t bare the thought of the fabric I use negatively impacting the environment or harming the people who make them. I’m so pleased to learn about all of these other amazing brands out there doing it too – thank you for sharing!
I just wrote a little article about where our ikat fabrics come from, with lots of photos showing the exact process: http://theswatchbook.offsetwarehouse.com/2015/10/20/piece-paradise-weaving-eco-friendly-fabrics-thai-back-garden/ I hope you find it interesting – and I’d love your thoughts!
Thank you so much for your support! Best wishes,
I wanted to add Andrea over at the Wonder Why farm in Michigan. The alpaca comes from her own flock, which she also dyes. Some of the fiber is commercially spun, and some she handspins. She also weaves with it, and is a certified fleece grader. Basically, she does it all. :)
Additionally, Neighborhood Fiber Co. http://www.neighborhoodfiberco.com, had a community-sourced fiber box this summer. While Karida is most known as a brilliant dyer, she’s also an activist in her own right and believes in locally sourcing things when feasible.
I really wish we had a directory of yarns and the transparency of the location and type of the sheep, the location of the fiber processing/milling/etc. , the location and type of dying, and anything else that is important in the making of yarn (still learning here.)
I made a new year’s resolution about 2 years ago to buy “local” yarn and have learned in my quest that that could mean a million things. What is really scary to me is when I walk around the yarn shows and ask the various booths about where their yarn comes from and they have NO IDEA! I am always searching for true craftsmen and lovers of the industry so I can buy with intention. My goal is to have something that is I’ll wear and love for all the positive energy that went into it.
Thanks to all who post websites that feature what I’ll call “intentional” or “transparent” yarn. And thanks to those who create it. I have learned it isn’t easy but it is so appreciated and such important work.
P.S. The Wooful Podcast is a wonderful resource to learn about the fiber industry and those who are intentional about it.
Try my blog http://www.thenextstep.space for an evergrowing directory for knitters and sewists that only features ethically made, sustainable options.
I don’t know all the details about this yarn, but it is Merino spun in the US. It’s the only wool yarn that hasn’t made me itchy when worn against the skin and is really affordable. http://www.stonehedgefibermill.com/?q=Shepherdswoolyarn
I talk about salvaging fabric and the yarn I’ve discovered at local fiber festivals on my latest podcast. Find it here: http://willfulmina.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-bluestocking-podcast-episode-7-slow.html
Or you could be like some of us who talk to the farmers, buy the fleece, wash, card, spin, and then make the sweater. I am currently working on a sweater that I am making the yarn for as I go. It is a good thing it is a big fleece!
If you are in Door County, WI check out Whitefish Bay Farm. I purchased their Corriedale wool yarn in a natural color, Chocolate Chip brown. Not only do they sell their yarn, there run a B&B that looks lovely! http://www.whitefishbayfarm.com.
I may have missed it in the comments, but Bare Naked Yarn by Knitspot seems to be very transparent as far as sourcing the wool and the mills where it is processed. Anne Hansen and her spouse David Whitfield are the owners and operators of the online store. Anne Hansen’s blog highlights her many wonderful designs.
Some great online fabric stores:
The story behind the fabric is the hardest thing to find, much harder than yarn but some companies are really trying hard. I have interviews with the owners behind all of the above stores coming up on my newly opened blog over at
Where my supplies come from has become increasingly important to me and I have started this blog to explore exactly that. I will have interviews with people who sell wonderful ethical and sustainable products as well as delving deeper into terms like Fairtrade and Organic. I would love for you to join me over there!
Such a great post, and addendum, and comments! I love knowing more about my wool. I think I really started thinking about how wool yarns are processed after listening to the Woolful podcast with Kylie Gusset (http://woolful.com/woolful-podcast-episode-1-fiber-travel-cormo-origins-and-being-fiber-conscious/), whose Tasmanian Ton of Wool Cormo is just fantastic (http://tonofwool.com).
In terms of fabric, I desperately want to try Natalie Chanin’s organic jersey. I really admire her work, but I am not really a hand sewer, yet. She has some posts on her site about the source of her jersey (http://journal.alabamachanin.com/2013/07/supply-and-demand-lightweight-fabric/). I also admire Sally Fox’s organic cotton and wool (http://www.vreseis.com). The cotton is California grown and some of the fabrics seem to be produced in Japan. Rebecca Burgess’ Fibershed is a wealth of information about northern California fibers (http://www.fibershed.com). I have been thinking about replacing some of my old jeans and have been reading about Cone Denim (https://www.conedenim.com), which is the source of many American made denim jeans, including some of the products from Nashville’s Imogene + Willie (https://imogeneandwillie.com/james-rigid).
Another wonderful Woolful podcast featured Molly de Vries of Ambatalia, along with Kristine Vejar of Verb, (http://woolful.com/woolful-podcast-episode-17-indian-textiles-natural-dyeing-perfection-and-living-a-non-disposable-life/) got me thinking about how I would like to support small farms and textile production in the US as well as internationally, especially because many regions have long, rich histories of textiles and can benefit from fair trade that supports their arts.
I have enjoyed these Slow Fashion posts so much. Thanks, Karen!
Wonderful post! I’m just getting back into knitting after following along this month so this round-up of yarn sourcing will come in handy. I just posted my fabric resources (mainly US based) for Known on my blog- http://sewpomona.com/2015/10/27/known-slow-fashion-october/. I’ve really loved participating in this!
Farmhouse Yarns are homegrown,handspun and handdyed here in central Connecticut.A small herd of sheep are raised in rural East Haddam,CT ,and their shorn fleeces are shipped out for processing here in New England,then they are spun and dyed on the farm on which they originated.Shepherd,spinner,dyer and knitter Carol Martin offers her handmade yarns for sale online at http://www.yarnandwool.com Each category of yarn is named after one of the sheep whose fleeces were incorporated in the original products.The color combinations are deep and rich,the wool smooth and easy to knit with,and the sock blend is to die for….I found this yarn line years ago,when Carol operated the area’s only local yarn shop featuring,of course,her works and some of her favorite commercial yarns.It was a treat to visit the victorian home which housed the shop for many years.Carol closed the shop when the landlord needed to do extensive renovations,and moved the entire operation back to the farm. Occasionally,Carol hosts yarn sales out at the farm,and I have had the pleasure in the past of making the trip out to the farm to see the yarn and pet the sheep that were responsible for such beautiful fiber.If you go to the website and sign up for the newsletter,you will receive an invitation for the next yarn sale coming up this November–if you care to make the trip into the woods of Connecticut to find great bargains on yarn that is well worth the effort to find it…
Two of my favorite sources of homegrown yarn (in addition to the wonderful ones already mentioned above!) are:
1) Mountain Meadow Wool in Buffalo, Wyoming, has wonderful cushy American merino in a range of weights and plies–in natural colors and natural dyes, too. The owners source their wool from local ranchers and you can use their “Wool Trace Back” tool to find out which ranch *your* yarn came from. See http://www.mountainmeadowwool.com
2) Elsawool in Bayfield, Colorado sells a variety of products, including yarn in your choice of woolen-spun or worsted-spun, that is made from purebred Cormo sheep–Elsa’s own in Colorado, and another flock in Montana. See http://www.wool-clothing.com/
Both are surprisingly affordable too–I just placed an order for more yarn from both!
I love hearing about yarns that I haven’t tried yet – my list has gotten quite long reading through some of the comments. It is also fun hearing that some people share my love for some of the yarns that I enjoy.
Here’s my full post for this week:
This has been such a great discussion (this post specifically and the whole month in general). Two other yarn sources that come to mind that are probably at the larger end of the spectrum but at least as transparent/conscious as Brooklyn Tweed and Quince are Kate Davies’ new Buachaille line (the first distribution was through a club, but it will be available for general purchasing early next year) and Anne Hanson/Knitspot’s Bare Naked Wools line of undyed yarns.
Love this article! I am excited to give some of the yarns a try. I have already used Brooklyn Tweed and just cast on a project using some yarn from Sawkill Farms and I’m already in love!
Wonderful list of resources! (The post and the comments section.) Bartlett Yarns and Beaverslide are also made from American wool…I think Beaverslide yarns are made in a Canadian mill, but Bartlett ones are milled in Maine. I haven’t used either of those personally, though my next two sweaters’ quantities of yarn will be purchased from them. Here’s my post for the week: http://www.woolandwheel.com/2015/10/slow-fashion-october-week-5-known.html .
In Maine, but also available by mail is Christopher Sheep Farm http://www.christophersheepfarm.com. I’ve been buying sweater yarn from them since the 80s. It’s soft but tough, hard wearing yarn that lasts and lasts, and it is very reasonably priced, and comes in gorgeous colors. It is woolen spun at Harrisville.
This Slow fashion october movement became such a great reflection movement ! Karen, thanks and congratulations for that ! On my blog today, i wrote a post about the need to know the yarn i use, and shared a yarn resource. Not a whole list, just a brand that i know, that i love and that i used. Here is the link : http://woollydream.blogspot.fr/2015/10/slow-fashion-october-know-your-yarn.html
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So here is my list of sustainable/traceable fabric sources, including (deep breath) a small quantity of two fabrics made from Imperial Stock Ranch wool, which I myself have to offer! http://tashamillergriffith.com/2015/10/29/sustainable-american-made-garment-fabric-i-found-some/
I’m really hoping that this is just the start of a whole movement for “known” fabrics, similar to what’s happened with yarns in the last few years. If you’re reading this and have any thoughts about the kinds of fabrics you’d like to see made in the USA, please come and share them!
You know, readig all your comments gave me an idea. We should ask Ravelry to add the origin of fleece and where the yarn is processed to any yarn page. What do you think ?
Our farm, currently located in Central Minnesota, raises registered Icelandic and Shetland sheep who are loved and revered with every “fiber”of my being. Healthy, happy animals and environmental stewardship are our top priorities, along with ethical values, transparency, and traceability of all our sheep related products. All fiber that isn’t processed on-farm goes to Northern Woolen Mills in Fosston, MN, who turns it onto luscious yarns and roving, with just a hint of lanolin remaining. Thanks to all of you who support your local shepherds, we love our sheep so you can love their fiber. http://www.lydiasflock.com
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I didn’t see it mentioned above but in case I missed it, my apologies for any duplication. Thirteen Mile from Bozeman is amazing . https://www.lambandwool.com/ It is made from organic wool, un-dyed or natural hand-dyes. It’s even predator friendly.
My Anna Vest pattern is designed for Thirteen Mile. Great yarn!
Hey guys, loving the discussion & sharing of information.
Does anyone have suggestions for Australia? The only mill I’m familiar with is Bendigo Woollen Mill. They are excellent and I assume source from Australia, but not 100% sure. Does anyone know of other Aussie local yarn producers?
Bendigo does use Australian wool but the processing is done in China so not really ideal. Other options for Australia are White Gum Wool which is a single farm merino which is farmed in Tassie and processed and milled in NZ. A new mill in NSW has just opened up called Adagio who work solely with Alpaca fibre and there is also Nundle Mill in NSW but I haven’t looked into their processing. Hope that helps!
The best Aussie yarn I have knit with is by far the glorious Polwarth yarn from Tarndie. The Polwarth sheep is Australia’s first breed of sheep, and was bred by the Dennis family who still run the farm today. It is gorgeously soft, gloriously warm, and feels like Alpaca next to the skin. It’s amazing and it’s pretty much all I’ve been knitting with for the last 10 months because there just isn’t a better local yarn that I have found (it’s SO HARD to find good yarn here). They process it in NZ very minimally.
http://tarndie.com/wool/ Get into it!
Someone previously mentioned Bartlett Yarns in Maine, but I’ll mention them again; the yarns are milled in Maine and spun on a woolen system. I believe they’re made with 100% American wool as well though I’m not completely certain. Bartlett has been around a long time and I can vouch for them being incredibly hard-wearing yarns at an incredibly reasonable price: their 4 oz. skeins are $9.30 each. I have a sweater that’s made from wool I bought from them years and years ago. I’ve re-used the yarn multiple times, having knit and then frogged more than one sweater made with it, and despite all the use (and re-use), it still has great stitch definition. http://www.bartlettyarns.com/
thanks so much for this post, very informative!! I really loved reading through all of your october slow fashion posts… so inspirerirng!!
A great Australian yarn is Polwarth from Tarndie! http://tarndie.com/wool/ I love it so much!!
This is the best list, I’m bookmarking this page for future reference. I’ve just emailed custom woolen mills about ordering some of their yarn too, it looks amazing :)
In our region, Robin from Hill and Hollow in south central Kentucky is raising Jacob sheep, milling the wool at Ohio Valley Natural Fibers, then dyeing it with marigold and indigo that she grows. She also runs a beautiful CSA and sells vegetables and yarn at the downtown Nashville farmers’ market. Her farm is here: http://hillandhollowfarm.com/ and her yarn here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HillandHollowFarm#
I just finished a pair of Tolt’s lambing mitts with the indigo+marigold yarn, and although my hands will be blue all winter, it’s so beautiful I don’t care! Of course it isn’t soft, but it seems extremely sturdy which is exactly what I want in that project.
Thanks for all you do for this community! <3
Gaia Conceptions is now selling some of their fabric.
From their website:
These fabrics are grown in North Carolina, Texas, or India (fair trade), ginned in North Carolina, and made into fabric in South Carolina. These are our most sustainable fabrics. We are proud to offer an organic fabric made in the south eastern United States
Hemp/Organic Cotton Blends
These fabrics are more textured when compared to the organic cotton and all are grown and manufactured in China (fair trade). Our hemp blends take the dye really well for deep saturated color. The blend of hemp and organic cotton make these our most versatile and durable fabrics choices.
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