Sustainability and A Yorkshire Love Story

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Back in 2017 we did something we’d never done before as we bought fleece direct from a local farm and had it turned into yarn. We’d had yarns custom spun before, but this was the first time we’d been responsible for coordinating all of the processes that turn fleece into yarn.

Conversations about sustainability seem to be happening more and more often. That’s a brilliant thing. There’s always a lot of balancing up of the costs of different ways of doing things, and there’s no one easy answer. More discussion means more information is available and in turn that helps make better informed choices.

One Farm Yarn came about through our desire to have a genuinely Yorkshire yarn.  This yarn is wool from two breeds, Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) and the wonderfully named North Country Mule (a BFL Swaledale cross breed). Both flocks live at Fiddlers Green Farm near Harrogate.

After shearing the 250kg of fleece were bagged up and took a 25 mile road trip to the Haworth Scouring Company.  From there the wool travelled another 20 miles to Laycock International for carding and preparation for spinning.   Another 5 mile journey got the carded wool to Laxtons for spinning, plying and skeining.  Finally, 2 months after shearing, the first batch of finished skeins travelled another 18 miles to reach us in Harrogate. That’s a journey of 72 miles in Yorkshire from sheep to dye pot. Proper Yorkshire yarn with a tiny transport footprint.

Why does a Yorkshire yarn matter to us? At The Knitting Goddess we love British wool , and we only dye wool which is grown, processed and spun in the UK.  Having a Yorkshire yarn spun let us make that process even better. Buying the fleece direct meant the farm not only got a better price for their fleece but were also paid promptly, supporting someone we know and respect. Fleece is bulky and not especially light, especially in its raw state, so cutting down on the distance it travels can only be a good thing. Processing in the UK means that strict standards are in place to protect the environment. West Yorkshire is an area with high unemployment so helping to keep local jobs and skills matters. Having the wealth of woolly knowledge that the scourer, carder and mill have amassed makes projects like this possible, and I’d like that knowledge and skill base to stay where it is.

Skein of One Farm Yarn in rainbow colours

We’ve ended up with an amazing yarn which is a 50/50 blend of BFL and North Country Mule. It’s a 4ply (fingering) Weight with 400 meters to each 100 gram skein. This yarn has been spun to be well balanced, so it’s ideal for almost any project apart from socks. North Country Mule adds a crispness to the BFL, and Laxtons have spun us a yarn which has a beautiful feel to it.

We can do things like this because we have amazing customers who care about where their wool comes from and who are interested in British wool. Thank you for being part of this adventure.

Close up of a skein of One Farm Yarn in rainbow colours

2020 will see a new use for this yarn – so watch this space. We’ve also been dyeing up more colours and they’ll be ready for the shop update on Thursday. Make sure you don’t miss out by signing up for our newsletter.

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