I love bringing back yarn as a souvenir from vacation. But not just any yarn! I always look for a natural yarn, produced locally, if it exists in the region I am visiting, because I care about promoting local products of wool and traditions. This quest led me to discover the Menez Hom yarns, without knowing it at the time, when I was in Brittany a few years back. It was in a local shop in Locronan (called Ar Stivell), where in between wooden clogs and other local products, there were a few skeins of beautiful rustic local yarn in natural brown and white colors.
It’s one of those skeins that I took out of my stash when I started working on the Terroir collection, thinking that it deserved to be a part of it! Of course, the yarn didn’t have any tag so I had no idea what its yardage was nor where it came from. Still, I created the Onion Johnies Hat with it, inspired by the stories of farmers from Brittany travelling to Great Britain to go sell their onions (and at the origin of the French cliché of the béret, marinière and bicycle). I was really happy with the result because the rustic yarn really highlights the cables, the béret is very light and warm at the same time, and my sister loves it (which is great because I made it for her!)
Then I started a new quest: Finding the origins of that beautiful yarn. Thanks to the magic of the web, I was able to discover that it came from the Menez Hom farm and I got in touch with its owner Patrick Sastre-Coader who agreed to answer a few questions!
How was the Menez Hom farm born?
The farm was born out of a desire to raise sheeps with specific qualities:
The Landes de Bretagne sheep breed is rustic enough to graze on the Menez Hom mountain, and the Avranchin breed which as a superior wool quality.
Can you describe the different steps of production of your yarn?
First comes the sheering. We work with 2 professionnal sheerers who come to the farm so that the animals aren’t hurt and we get a well cut wool.
Then we sort out the fleeces. At the Menez Hom farm, about 30 to 35% of the wool is thrown away.
We send the fleeces to be washed at the Laverie du Gévaudan located in Saugues in the center of France.
Finally, the wool is spinned into yarn at the Terrade spinning mill in Felletin.
Can you tell us more about this historic and patrimonial sheep breed which is the Landes de Bretagne? What’s its story?
It’s a breed that didn’t disappear but was forgotten. They are the ancient breton sheeps and they’ve known a redevelopment since the 2000s.
The genetical stake of these sheeps is their capacity to take advantage of the environment of atlantic moors which are made of very rough food like gorse, heather, molinia. And we can raise the lambs born outside whatever the season.
Their fleeces are of various qualities. Some are really soft, others completely felted. And they have different colors: White, grey and black.