Winter has broken, and the precious fiber our free-range animals covet all winter has started making its way to the markets! In order to meet the minimum batch requirements for spinning our awesome yarn, I’m once again coming to Kickstarter and the knitting and spinning community to get the highest quality fiber for producing a range of colors and weights!
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Before we get started, I just wanted to make a quick, clear update about every option that we have! All yarns will be available in DK and Fingering weight.
For the colors:
Cashmere (~$28/100g) - Heather Grey, Crimson, and Natural Cream
Yak Down (~$18/100g) - Natural Dark Chocolate and Natural Milk Chocolate Brown
Baby Camel Wool (~$17/100g) - Natural Sandstone
Sheep wool (~$9/100g) - Natural Melange and Navy
All fibers will be available in all colors! Everybody will have the chance to select their colors and yarn weights in Backerkit after the campaign ends.
At $60,000, we will be able to offer the yarn in lace weight as well!
With requests for updated inventory reaching a fevered pitch, it’s time to relaunch our “Herders to Home” Knitting Yarn and Fiber campaign for its second season! After incredible support in our first campaign, we were able to create the first range of hand knitting yarn produced in Mongolia. With the incredible response and feedback, we’ve tweaked a few things, updated some equipment, and are ready to come back for a second time with even higher quality yarn and fiber than ever before.
After another successful campaign for throw blankets where backers received a complimentary pair of 100% wool socks, my backers confirmed what I have felt for years (pun intended): Mongolian sheep wool is ALSO incredible! This season, I’m working with local cooperatives to add exceptional Mongolian sheep wool fiber and yarn to our product line, where I’m certain it will be very well received.
Step 1: Click the green 'Back This Project' button: Snoop the rewards section of the campaign and figure out what you want! Then hit the green "Back this Project" button at the top of the campaign.
Step 2: Select your reward level: Choose your fiber or yarn type and package size. After the campaign ends, you will choose your colors and weights, as well as have a chance to add more rewards. So, don't worry about the details yet, we'll get them all later!
I first came to Mongolia in 2010 as a volunteer in the US Peace Corps. After working in business development for 2 years in Darkhan, the 2nd largest city in Mongolia, I returned home to figure out what to do with the rest of my life! After some deliberation, I decided to move back to Mongolia to pursue my lifelong dream of running my own business.
Teaching English to pay rent, get a visa, and invest into my own business, I now live full time in Ulaanbaatar, the bustling capital of Mongolia. Although not as glamorous as the remote and mysterious countryside, ‘UB’ is an exciting developing city. It’s the partnership between the industrial center of Mongolia here in UB and the romantic, pristine countryside that makes Mongolia and Mongolian products so incredible, and is also the driving force behind ULA + LIA.
Everything here starts with our fiber. Every winter, free-range animals raised by nomadic herders brave the brutally cold, -40C winters in Mongolia. To sustain through the winters, these critters develop super fine, soft fibers to hold their body heat. In the spring when they start to shed, herders brush their animals to harvest their rare wools.
To help combat land degradation and over-grazing, we purchase all of our fibers through a cooperative that works directly with herders that must practice sustainable herding practices. By buying directly from herders, we are able to support their traditional lifestyle, as well as trace our fibers all the way to the village and area our fibers are from. This year, I’ll even be working with the cooperative to specifically choose where our fibers come from, insuring the highest quality raw materials!
While most of the country's capacity is full producing yarn for weaving and knitting machines, it can be difficult to find companies willing to set up their equipment to make the thick yarn we need for knitting. Last year, I found the perfect partnership in a small, privately owned spinning and weaving facility that was willing to make specialty yarn in smaller batches. While we still need 50kg for different fibers, it’s much more manageable than the 100 or 200kg batches required elsewhere.
Last season, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, which is incredible for the first time making a hand knitting yarn at our factory. There were some comments about some of the yarn being a bit inconsistent in width, and also some people had a few too many knots in the cakes. This winter, the factory updated its carding equipment to increase the uniformity of the yarn, which will make yarn thickness much more consistent. With the added consistency of the yarn, this should also reduce the number of knots in skeins.
With further improvements to fiber selection, cleaning, packaging, and labeling, this year’s yarns are sure to be stronger, smoother, and higher quality than ever! I'm also using an international fulfillment service to keep shipping costs to a minimum. Even with a large increase in fiber prices, I was able to keep yarn prices comparable to last year by drastically reducing shipping costs out of Mongolia.
Alright, down to the good stuff! As voted on by previous backers, our first yarns and fibers will be Heather Grey cashmere, Dark Chocolate yak wool, Natural Sandstone baby camel wool, and Natural Melange sheep wool. Please check out our stretch goals for the colors that will be unlocked with higher funding levels! Each new color requires a new batch run, so this is a case where stretch goals are very important for us!
For the yarn weights, we will be sticking with our fingering weight and with our DK weight. The fingering weight is a 3 ply yarn at about 400yards/100g, while the DK will be 4 ply and about 240yards/100g. This year, I'm going to be more exact about the yarn lengths per ball and also the labeling!
Due to some inconsistencies in the hand-wound cakes last year, yarn will be delivered in 100g skeins. For those looking for large orders (1kg+) and would like their yarn in industrial cones, please contact me directly via the message on Kickstarter or via email: info@UlaAndLia.com.
All available fibers and colors will also be available for direct purchase as fiber for those that like to spin yarn themselves!
There’s something indescribably cozy about bundling up with your favorite pieces of Mongolian cashmere on the coldest days of the year, or wrapping up in a cashmere blanket with a cup of coffee. Incredibly soft, but also abnormally durable due to its long fiber length, Mongolian cashmere is highly demanded in international markets. Goats only produce small amounts of cashmere on their chins and bellies each season, which makes cashmere rare and expensive.
Preferring colder temperatures and higher elevations, yaks have one of the most particular climates for their incredible wool production. Generally left to its natural colors, yak down wool is mostly found in Dark Chocolate Brown, Milk Chocolate Brown, and sometimes in a natural gray. In recent years, the same highest grade Mongolian yak wool we use is gaining popularity for its fantastic softness and durability, making its way into high fashion houses across Europe.
Originally planning to provide adult camel wool to backers last year, the fiber was changed to baby camel wool in the end. The response to the baby camel wool was incredible, and I’m excited to offer it again this year!
Taking wool only from 1 year old camels, our cooperative is able to procure baby camel wool fiber that is comparable to cashmere and yak wool in softness and quality. Compared to the 8,000 tons of cashmere available in Mongolia, only 50-60 tons of baby camel wool are possibly available, although much less is ordered. By increasing demand for these lesser known but still incredible fibers, herders can expand the range of animals in their herds while not overtaxing the land.
Mongolian sheep wool has always been out of the spotlight next to its mysterious and hip woolen Mongolian relatives. Working closely and wearing wool products here in Mongolia, I know that the wool here is actually really incredible, and it’s only a matter of getting it in people’s hands.
During our last campaign for throw blankets, I sent every backer a complimentary pair of 100% wool socks. The feedback as been 100% positive, and the wool blankets have exceeded everybody’s expectations. With the added benefit of being able to select our sheep wool from selected regions with particularly fine and long fiber length, I’m confident this years wool will fit right in with the other wools at a discounted price. I’m already eyeing a large batch of fiber (as seen in the picture) that has fineness comparable to our other wools, with exceptionally long fiber length. Our "Natural Melange" color will most likely mimic the same shades and color composition found in storage picture.
I don't have any pictures of finished yarn or fiber from our sheep, but I've already seen the exceptional quality wool from an area near UB this spring. The softness and fiber length is incredible and I can't wait to bring this wool to the world!
Last year, we were able to find the support needed to produce both DK weight and Fingering weight yarn for all of our fibers and colors. This year, I’m hoping we can do the same and even more. From feedback from past backers, the first yarn sizes will be DK and Fingering weight yarn. After that, stretch goals are:
While still meeting the delivery deadline last year, I had a pretty solid sweat after fiber procurement took longer than expected. Although we started shipping out at the end of September last year, I’m expecting the process could take up to a month longer, but everybody should definitely see their precious yarn and fiber before the start of the holidays!
I love questions! Don't feel shy about hollering at me with anything you're thinking or need to know. Come hang out at our Ravelry group, follow me on the 'Book (although I don't post often), send me a message on here, or send an email to info@UlaAndLia.com. You can also always find us at www.UlaAndLia.com.
Risks and challenges
Doing business in Mongolia can be exciting at times, but I've learned to have back-ups in case things go awry. After spending over 5 years in Mongolia involved in the textile industry, I have backups and other options for raw materials and production if things get rough, even if it means financial issues for me.
Please check out my previous campaigns to check how I like to stay in touch with the community and also keep everybody updated on the process. As this is the second time around, I only expect everything to be better and smoother than ever!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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