Wool is my favorite knitting fiber. There’s just something so comforting and cozy about the feeling of sheep’s wool, that I can never find anything else that beats it in my book. I’m very excited to announce that we’ll be creating our own custom yarn later this year! It will be small-batch, limited edition yarn. The wool will be from sheep raised in Vermont, it will be spun at a Vermont mill, and hand-dyed in Vermont by yours truly.
I love dyeing yarn and I haven’t had a chance to do this since I moved to Vermont. So I’ve ordered 80 pounds — yes pounds — of wool to have custom spun so I can dye it. And then I’ll make a bunch available to you. Because, hey, what’s a girl gonna do with 80 pounds of yarn?
Here’s a quick look at who I’ll be working with:
Hampton Fiber Mill & Spinnery
I first met Michael Hampton from Hampton Fiber Mill & Spinnery on Instagram and later, in person, at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. We had such a great time sharing photos, making silly comments on Instagram, and chatting in person, that I knew I wanted to work on a special project with Michael when I got the chance. Last month, Dom and I drove over to Richmond, Vermont, to visit the mill. What a fun experience!
Have you ever been to a factory or processing plant? I’ve been to quite a few: dairy plants, wineries, tea factories, and spinning mills. I’m always amazed at how much product can be manufactured and produced in such a small place. That’s how I felt at Hampton Fiber Mill & Spinnery. The whole shebang (except for the scouring room) is housed in a small building next door to Michael’s home. Later I’ll post some photos and tell you about the equipment. But for now, here’s a blurb about the mill from their website:
Hampton Fiber Mill & Spinnery is a custom textile fiber-processing mill located in Richmond, Vermont. Established in 2010, the mill is a cottage industry serving the needs of New England’s diverse community of fiber producers.
Hampton Fiber Mill & Spinnery is the realization of a dream of Michael Hampton, a fiber enthusiast since childhood. He has been knitting since elementary school in Montana and has been hand-spinning yarn for many years in Vermont. After 20 years as an engineering consultant to the petrochemical industry, it was time to turn a hobby into a vocation. Eighteen months of research, planning, and waiting paid off in late 2010 when the equipment arrived at the mill. Word traveled quickly and the mill has been busy since startup.
Hampton Fiber Mill & Spinnery strives to assist New England fiber producers realize their own dreams of regionally-produced, high-quality, value-added products manufactured from their own fiber.
Dave Martin & Settlement Farm
When we were visiting the mill, I asked Michael if he had a batch of yarn that we could buy to sell to our customers at the studio and online. But he had a much better idea. “Why not buy 50 or 100 pounds of wool from a Vermont farm,” he said, “and create your own custom yarn?” Well, why didn’t I think of that? That’s what we’re doing. We decided to get 80 pounds of wool from Settlement Farm in Underhill, Vermont.
Here’s what Michael had to say about Dave:
Dave Martin is a fellow member of the Board of Directors of the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association. For the last 30 years Dave has maintained a large-ish white flock of crossbreed sheep at his farm, Settlement Farm, in Underhill. Built on a foundation of the Montadale breed, he has crossbred his ewes with various long wool and down wool rams over the years so the fiber, which varies a bit from fleece to fleece, exhibits characteristics of both long wool and down wool. Dave breeds primarily for meat production so his fiber quality might be considered a bit of a happy accident. Not all of the ewes have great fiber, so skirting time is also sorting time. A little fewer than half of the 114 ewes sheared last week were individually bagged for eventual production of yarn, roving, and batts, and the remaining fleeces were skirted and aggregated for sale at the Vermont Wool Pool. Feel free to email Dave for any information that you need. Maybe you need a visit to the farm?
The wool is between 3.5 and 4 inches in length and exhibits crimp form wavy to kinky, gentle to extreme. When blended together, the wool resembles the best that Norway has to offer! Not too soft and not too harsh. Just the right amount of luster and strength.
If you know me, you know I like what I call “wooly wool.” That is, wool that has some tooth and feels crimpy and spongy. It’s easy to work with and creates a comfortable and cozy end product. That’s what we’ll be making!
Vermont Sheep and Goat Association
Over 100 years old, the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association represents producers of meat, dairy and fiber sheep and goats as well as other species of fiber animals such as rabbits, alpacas and llamas. Their aim is to promote humane treatment of animals, a high-level of animal health, and sustainable farmland stewardship on all farms, as producers of meat, dairy and fiber.