A regional yarn wholesaler is now selling online. Learn about Katie Sullivan and her New England yarns!
Many farmers don't have the time or money to process the wool fleeces from their sheep and sell the resulting yarn. Working the farm and meeting the most necessary expenses is their first concern. As a result, some wool ends up sitting in barns unprocessed.
That’s where Katie Sullivan comes in. Katie, who lives in VT, purchases wool fleeces from farmers, skirts it, and then sends it to be processed. She understands the cost of turning wool fleeces into yarn and wants to save the valuable fiber from gathering dust in barns. So she handles the upfront costs and provides payment for the wool fleeces to the farmers.
For years, her yarns have only been available at selected yarn stores in New England. But the exciting news is now that has changed. Curious about her work? You can now visit her site and make purchases directly.
Making the Most of Her Mission
Why the change in business model? Katie realized that selling local wool means letting consumers know the benefits of their purchases to the larger local community. Although local stores provide access to fiber, she wants to concentrate on providing information on her website to help people understand the WHY of her mission. If you check out her site, you can see her wonderful insights into the many benefits this system of yarn production has for the regional community and its farmers.
Another advantage is that giving more options works for more people. Some want to touch and feel the yarn before purchasing. They can do this by shopping at a store. Others can learn on the website and have their purchases shipped directly to their homes. Either way, the website is a base for learning more about the fiber, the farms that produce it, and the process from farm to skein.
"There’s nothing better than a farm friend when you need one!.” ~ Katie Sullivan (Blog)
Katie is working so hard to enable local purchasing options by collaborating with fiber and meat farmers. By purchasing the fleeces directly from the farmers, she is freeing them to focus on their businesses and the critical care of their sheep.. To that end, she takes on the work of having the fleeces skirted, washed, milled, dyed, and turned into skeins. And the results are wonderful.
A Place to Learn
There are many components to the story of how this yarn comes to be. Fortunately, Katie has skillfully woven them into one user-friendly website where people can learn about the sheep, shepherding, gathering the fleeces, and seeing why a thriving local market for wool can be such an economic benefit for the community both locally and regionally.
She has even added recycled yarn to her breed-specific lines. Teaming up with a New England woolen mill to reuse wool, you can find recycled, lace-weight merino yarn on her site for sale. (Full disclosure, it is super-washed wool.)
Part of her mission is to bring back New England yarns for knitting, crocheting, and more.
How It All Ties In
I had the pleasure of connecting with Katie early in my journey, and I’m excited to wear her fiber at the upcoming Monadnock Coop Earth Day event (see a sneak peek below). That’s where I’ll be officially launching my challenge on April 23. Find me at Railroad Square in Keene, New Hampshire all day surrounded by many incredible vendors specializing in all things local. I’m ready to fit right in as my challenge is to wear local clothing only for the next 365 days. It’s going to be an inspired year of learning for this gal.
Are you a lover of all things local? Someone who’s also fixated on fiber? I’m really looking forward to sharing all the nuances I discover along the way. For instance, I know that these days, many crafters go right to the softest fiber and don’t necessarily know about all the breed varieties in New England and how different yarns can enhance various garment projects.
Thanks to innovators like Katie, there’s a chance to change this by educating those unfamiliar with local sheep's fiber. It’s amazing how each breed lends itself to different applications. But that’s a story for another day.
If I’ve piqued your interest, let Katie help you decide which breed-specific yarns would work best for your upcoming projects. You never know; you might just create your favorite garment or piece of outerwear yet.