Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Where Does Your Wool Come From?

My building at NY Sheep and Wool was a sea of commercial yarn.  I remain resolved to continue selling yarn spun from my own wool.  Kim and I put out baskets of our lovely, unique, artsy hand spun yarn and were satisfied, with a kind of reverse snobbery, that there was no commercial yarn in our booth.  All fibers were lovingly raised on Maggie's Farm.   I'll never forget when, several years back, Linda Cortright of Wild Fibers Magazine, told me most yarn comes from dead sheep.  Ugh!  I still shudder at the thought.  Many vendors advertise "hand dyed" yarn.  That yarn might come from a place like "Henry's Attic," a source for yarns from various sources and I doubt if those sources are local shepherds, who know their sheep by name and spend long cold nights with sick sheep or waiting for lambs to come.  When you buy a skein of commercial Merino yarn you might be supporting mulesling - a horrific and painful practice done in Australia to prevent flystrike in large flocks.  When you buy a skein of commercial yarn you might also be supporting the meat industry where sheep are shipped long distances suffering terrible discomfort and fear before they are killed.  Then the wool is removed to be spun into yarn.  What could they do otherwise?  They could go to the fleece sale at places like the NY State Sheep and Wool Festival, or the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and buy raw fleeces from shepherds like me who have small flocks of happy sheep.  They could give those fleeces to local mills, and there are more and more every year, and have yarn made to their specifications.  Then you could knit free of guilt and with the satisfaction of supporting a vanishing entity - the small family farm - as well as local industry.

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