My day job involves making our world more sustainable, while my creative life is focused on providing people with happy color for their knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, and other textile projects. Help me merge the two while I work to create a locally sourced yarn in the Willamette Valley.
Most wools travel thousands of miles before they end up in the hands of the customer. Think of wool sourced in Peru, spun in Peru, sent to the US, and then sent out again to you. Some wool is even grown in one place, sent to another for processing, another for spinning, sent back for dyeing and then sent to a retailer before making its way to a retailer. By using locally sourced wool, we can cut the carbon footprint of the wool, while supporting our local economy.
I want to create a valley made yarn where the major steps of the process happen here in the Willamette Valley. That includes wool sourcing, wool processing, and hand-dyeing. I've created similar projects for my customers in the past and want to upscale my project, but it requires additional investment. This will significantly reduce the cost of the wool.
I'm sourcing most of the Gotland wool from the McTavish farm in Eugene, Oregon. I went to visit the sheep already. The ewe are named Nori, Tsunami and there's a wether too.
Gotland is a primitive breed of sheep from Sweden. Like most primitive breeds in the US, it is vastly underused. Most Gotland is a lovely silver gray with a luster. It also halos a little (it's fuzzy like mohair). The potential for overdyeing is high. I love overdyeing gray wool because the wool itself is adding living color to the yarn and it's nearly impossible to duplicate the tone that the wool itself is providing. Gotlands' fineness ranges from 30-44 microns.
In the United States, Gotlands are upbred from other breeds by using a base breed and then artificial insemination to increase the percentage of Gotland DNA. The Gotland's I'm obtaining wool from are about 68% Gotland.
The wool will be processed by the Ewethful Fiber Farm in Halsey, Oregon and hand-dyed by me in Salem, Oregon. Ewethul Fiber Farm is a small batch processor and supporting local mills ensures that even small businesses like mine can make local wool.
Some of the wool will be left undyed because some people prefer it that way.
My dyeing work is best seen on instgram, where you could follow #threefatesyarns or @threefatesyarns. I've overdyed other grey wool blends in the past and here is an example of what they looked like.
I am currently overdyeing some commercially spun Gotland so I will have an understanding of what the final product will look like. Here's an example of commercially dyed gray Gotland top from Ashland Bay using Tintagel.
Risks and challenges
I am using kickstarter as my chosen platform, because this has the greatest chance to engage crafters in their local textile economy.
I've made two other farm sourced wool projects this way and I'm accustomed to it taking a while from shearing to getting it into my hands. I've had as much advance communication as I possibly could already with both the sheep farm and the wool processor.
Financials (best guess)
20 lbs of fleece will result in 15-18 lbs of wool, or around 60-72 skeins.
Raw goods cost: $20/lb: $400
Processing cost: $25/lb: $450
Dyeing cost: $25/lb: : $450
Bags and other rewards: $780
Margin of error, office supplies, packaging, etc: $220.00
Total Project Cost: $2,450
May/June: Processing , Early reward distribution
Any yarn rewards obtained through kickstarter will be distributed before any of the remainder is offered for sale.
I plan to go ahead with this project irregardless, so I set the initial amount at about half of what I need to do everything. If I raise twice as much as the kickstarter goal, it will mean another round of fleece project yarn. It could also mean another fleece of Gotland, although it would come from another farm in Eugene.
I'm not sure of the exact yardage of the final project, only that we're going to aim for a 2-ply wool of 200-220 yards per skein.
I'm guessing the loss of wool during the cleaning process is about 20%, but am not offering the full estimated weight because we're still guessing the fleece weight.
I've already scouted out the initial fleece, although it may require additional fleece from a second farm. The animals haven't been sheared yet, so I'm not entirely sure what the final weight will be. I thought about keeping each animal separate, but have decided against it to provide a more even color.
The color of the wool is not known exactly and will be determined by the final shade of the wool and the blending process.
The wool could cost a little more to process than I've estimated.
Farm sourced wool may have more hay in it than you are accustomed to seeing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)