As I’ve said before (over and over), I love farm-to-needle yarn. I love the feel of it: the drape and the structure, rustic or next-to-your-most-sensitive-skin soft. I love it all. When I started designing our unSalted base, I was at the Michigan Fiber Festival across the aisle from Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill, with the super lady boss, Carol Wagener, and helper (and photographer) extraordinaire, Carrie Flores. Carol and I got talking, as is wont to happen, and I started sizing up her lovely Coopworth fleece. Carol and Paul raise Coopworth and some Corriedale (as well a few donkeys) on their farm in Valders, WI where they also have a fiber mill that processes fiber to roving for clients and their own sale. They’ve been running the mill since 1997 and are amazing folks.
Back to MFF - After playing with a bit of the raw fiber, I snagged Claire, my business partner, and showed it to her for her opinion. She looked at it and went “go for it!” And so, as we were packing up Sunday, I bought most of what Carol had left with her at the show. After getting home, I started working with it to see what fiber it might “play nice” with. Huacaya Alpaca was plentiful in my area from various farms.. So, we went for it. Our first full run was 50 pounds of Coopworth from HVFWM and 50 pounds of Alpaca from multiple farms around Michigan, processed into a 2-ply worsted yarn at Hoof-to-Hanger mill in Bridgeman, MI. It was divine. Since it had fibers from “both sides of Lake Michigan” we called it unSalted, cause we’re quirky like that.
unSalted has a lovely sheen and softness, strength and stitch definition. It can take a beating (or frogging) and just keep on going. It’s funny because I never know exactly how a yarn is going to turn out until it is in my hands, but this one was all I hoped it would be. I’m now dyeing my third round of unSalted, this one with alpaca from Northern Dreams Alpaca Farm and processed at Ewetopia Fiber Mill in La Farge, WI. I still use the Coopworth from HVFWM, and I love it just as much as I did when it was only an idea.
To hear more about the the yarn portion, you can catch up with Jill's “to needle” part of our collaboration here
*Coopworth photos used with permission from Carrie Flores