In the world of wool November is Wovember; a month where we celebrate and promote pure wool and its origins.
This year Wovember has focussed on the politics of wool, and is also looking at breeds from across Europe. We are passionate about real wool and hate the “woolly” untruths so often found in advertising as well as the over simplistic and inaccurate reporting about the sustainability and welfare of wool production and processing. So we are very keen to support Wovember 2016!
At The Natural Fibre Company, we are so lucky to have customers not just in the United Kingdom but all over the world, and so it is a good opportunity to give a quick promotional tour of our friends across the water.
- The first stop on our European journey is in France where Les Toisons Bretonnes can be found. This business was started in 2012 to help promote wool from Breton farms. Over the past four years they have expanded their offerings to include yarn, carded fibre, kits and garments. Yarns are available in a selection of natural shades as well dyed with natural and synthetic dyes.
- From France we then cross the border into the Netherlands:
o Trollenwol, based in Driebergen-Rijsenburg, stock a variety of different yarn types. Their newest yarn is Aalmerk, a 100% Shetland yarn from Uradale (see which has been processed organically to comply with GOTS standards. The fibre comes directly from a single farm on the Shetland Islands and is available in natural, blended and dyed shades.
o The second stop is Wools of Holland. This is a co-operative whose aim is to increase the value of Dutch wool by not only improving the quality but also traceability. They work with indigenous breeds such as the Kempisch Heideschaap to produce a variety of products suitable for knitters of varying experience.
- Crossing over into Germany we come to three contrasting businesses:
o The first (and largest) is Rosy Green Wool. They design and we produce yarns made from organic pure Merino and also Merino blends. The Manx Loaghtan and Hebridean fibre used in these blends is sourced from organic farms in Devon meaning that these yarns are certified as fully organic. As this company is so keen on high-welfare and fair trade they also give 50 cents of every sale of their blended yarns to the Rare Breed Survival Trust.
o The second stop in Germany is Wolle Willich. Predominantly a yarn stockist, Elisabeth Gutschow carries both Blacker Yarns and Rosy Green Wool amongst other brands. It is worth keeping an eye on their new products in the coming months as they have some interesting yarns from German sheep in the pipeline!
o The last stop in this country is Archehof Ketterle and their Kollektion de Vielfalt. With ten different sheep breeds the collection offers not only knitting yarn but also carded fibre, felted and woven goods; a fantastic example of the versatility of wool! It also promotes the natural colour of the fleeces in its variety and shades of yarn. Blacker Yarns is also working with Nathalie Ketterle to develop some cross-border collaboration yarns – watch this space!
- Our final stops are found in Sweden:
o The first is Skaningsmala Mohair which breeds goats and Gotlands for the fibres. Skaningsmala works in a cooperative known as Nord Mohair which produces socks in dyed and natural shades. These socks have proven hugely popular and are stocked all over Sweden.
o Moving away from mohair and, more specifically, to Stockholm. Dandelion Yarns stocks their own brand of yarn made from organic Merino which they hand dye after spinning. The bright and vibrant colours lend themselves to colour work as do the gradient dyed yarns.
That sums up our own short tour of Europe. If you would like to find out more about these producers and their products, then follow the links above. Don’t forget to check out the Wovember website for more information about the different breeds of sheep and the politics of wool.