CAN WE GET A HIGH FIVE FOR OUR FIBER PRODUCERS!
As Suzoo’s prepares to embark on several new adventures, we realize that educating
ourselves is just as important as sharing our knowledge with others. So I was pleased to see the article in the PLY newsletter discussing heritage breeds. No doubt there are many of you who spin and some who have tried their hand at less commercially popular yarn bases. For years now we have been openly unapologetic about our passion for American made yarns, such as Brown Sheep, Kraemer and Mountain Meadow. We recently added Appalachian Baby to the top 5 list which will most likely continue to grow longer as the American marketplace turns towards a revival.
The question, of course, is if selling American made is enough to preserve our heritage breeds let alone our wool industry. Believe me, I am a huge fan of natural fibers. This passion has doubled now that I am also a fiber producer.
A few months back I added a Leicester Longwool to my collection. My main goal was to cross our Ram with the female dorpers to see if I could get a longer staple on the Dorpers with less hair. Naturally it may take several breedings to get there. However, we introduced a female Leicester to ensure the production of pure bred Leicester wool. Recently we acquired a gorgeous Suffolk, who like the others, will produce a lovely meat but also a lovely wool. She will possible get crossed with a Leicester but ultimately we will breed her with Suffolks too. The end effect is that this hobby farm has become an experiment of sustainability along with breed preservation.
So when I started saying “Co-Op” out loud it’s no wonder that other fiber producers were listening. Having spinners buy our fiber is an awesome concept but what if we could create heritage breed yarn lines that would appeal to a wide market while keeping our end costs down to ensure a good retail value. Vicky and I decided to put ourselves to the test by creating “Be Your Own Mini Mill” classes to educate the spinners and dreamers. Personally I wanted to reach out to the fiber producers and let them know that YOUR WOOL IS NOT TRASH. Rather than rant on about the things that make me cranky, let’s focus on the things that make us smile.
THREE TYPES OF FIBER IN ONE FLEECE
Spinning • Felting • Recycling
We will have a page dedicated for these categories, mill prices and educational opportunities off and on in the years to come. So that you don’t hate me for being so vague, I will embellish. Only 10% of your fleece is crap. Literally crap. And this goes in your garden. Yes…the garden. You will mulch it for a year or more to cool it down, but then you will have a beautiful soil enhancer once it’s broken down and ready to mix in.
90% of your fleece can be dissected in to the three categories above and we aren’t being specific. You are most likely looking for the first option. You will want an end product that you can either spin or ship off to get spun. Every type of fiber has its challenges, but also some major roles to play in the fiber arts world. Think twice before you dump the 2-3″ short bits. Crimp can be deceiving. Grease can trick you. And for the rest? Well, it’s no fluke that many quilters, builders and other fiber arts enthusiasts are in love with wool. Hey! Birds love alpaca for their nests. So seriously, we are serious about changing how you look at the fleece you purchased or sheared off your animal.
With that said, I am running out of juice and have loads more to share. Let this article be food for thought. If we could all come together as one then the heritage breeds, the standard breeds, the mills, the commercial raisers, the magazines, teachers, students and anyone who is connected to the world of natural fiber will prosper.
See you soon!