Straight from the Source:
Buying Farm Yarns

When you buy yarn from a mainstream manufacturer, you rarely know the details of its provenance. The label may indicate the yarn's country of origin, but that's about it.

Most manufacturers rely on international fiber collectives, processors, and spinneries to locate and process materials for them. Their main concern is the end result—an attractive yarn that suits their objectives.

This means you often have no idea where the actual fibers came from, where the animals were born and raised, and who raised them. While such anonymity of source is standard these days, buying yarn straight from sheep farms lifts the veil of anonymity.

How rare and special to meet the animal whose fleece will warm and comfort you for years to come. Even if you find a better deal from a commercial manufacturer, it's not the same as buying straight from the source, just as buying vegetables at a supermarket is different than buying straight from the farm.

Pricing
Although some farm yarns may cost less, they're by no means free. Farms must pay for land, maintain their facilities, provide care and feeding for the animals, and pay for the shearing, processing, spinning, dyeing, packaging, and promoting of their yarns.

The farm yarns reviewed here average $.04 to $.06 per yard. To put this in context, Brown Sheep's basic Lamb's Pride Worsted is $.03 per yard, while Karabella Yarns' slightly more complex Aurora 8 sells for $.07 per yard.

What's Special
Sheep farms send out their fleece to be processed and spun. This makes the quality of the fleece itself, rather than the specific spin, differentiate one farm yarn from the other. Some farms dye their own yarns, others have the processor or another dyer do this for them.

Typical Choices
Farm yarns tend to be basic, no-frills one-, two-, or three-ply wools, rather like your standard home-baked loaf of bread. This simplicity is partly an issue of economics, with any complex spin or blend requiring a greater investment of time and money than most farms can (or want to) afford.

The standard yarn type is also an issue of resources. Because sheep farms rely on a separate spinnery to process, spin, and dye their fibers, they can only order what the spinnery can provide.

What follows is a selection of farm yarns that we have reviewed over the years, each with a story that goes far beyond the yarn itself.

Farm Yarns Reviewed
arrow  Imperial Stock Ranch DK-weight Columbia wool
arrow  Beaverslide Dry Goods worsted-weight wool/mohair blend
arrow  Elsa Sheep and Wool Company cormo wool
arrow  Maine Merino
arrow  Marr Haven Wool Farm fine wool yarn
arrow  Meadowcroft Farm Seacolors
arrow  Morehouse Farm Merino lace-weight yarn
arrow  Mostly Merino 2-ply worsted
arrow  Tregellys Fiber Farm 2-ply worsted

Farm-Fresh Spinnery Yarns
arrow  Bartlett Yarns Fisherman's bulky
arrow  Green Mountain Spinnery Granite State green
arrow  Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain mohair
arrow  The Irish Ewe The Irish Ewe Aran
arrow  Peace Fleece

arrow Read fiber festival reviews to learn about more noteworthy farm yarn sources
arrow Discuss yarns in our forums

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Read about farm yarns