I recently released a new collection of patterns called Terroir, worked in local natural yarns from France. Knitting with local natural yarns has always been very important to me.
For as long as I’ve been knitting in my adult life, I’ve always loved discovering local rustic yarns from different regions of the world, enjoying their touch, learning about the local traditions, and feeling a bit closer to the sheep and the land while knitting them.
DISCOVERING LOCAL TRADITIONS
On vacation, I would always research if the region produced any local wool and would go to any length to find some. A few years back, when I was on vacation in Brittany, I don’t remember how many stores selling yarns and local products I went to, and asked the owners if there was local wool from Brittany, before I finally found the lovely yarn from the Menez Hom that I used for my Onion Johnnies Hat in my latest collection Terroir.
Local yarns were the best thing to bring back from vacation to me, I collected them (and I still do!) and would love spending time making something beautiful with them, enjoying how unique they are and remembering of the great time I spent on vacation.
But they are more than just postcards, they are also an invitation for me to go look for the local traditions, meet the local farmers, learn more about their life, their values, their process. I’ve always found it fascinating and it adds so much value to my knit to be able to trace its yarn back to its origins, to have met the animals whose fleece became yarn, the farmer whose love and care makes the sheep grow happy, the spinner with their unique savoir-faire who knows all and everything about the fibers and how to make gorgeous yarns out of them, the dyers, color masters, yarn creators and all those beautiful jobs in between that don’t even always have names but it doesn’t make them less important.
A COMMITMENT TO SLOW LIVING
I love that saying: « It’s not a hobby, it’s a post-apocalyptic life skill ? ». I know it’s meant to be funny but I’ve always thought that there were some truth to it. If there was no technology, if we had to go back to a simpler life and find one’s purpose in this kind of society, I know that I could always knit, make blankets and clothes to keep people warm, teach them to knit for themselves, give them some space to breathe in a tough day, some spark of creativity in a task that still produces something useful.
And if I’d be able to do it in a post apocalyptic world, why not do it right now? Why not use these local yarns that have very low-environmental impact, support the people who make them while promoting and preserving their local traditions, while giving back to their local community, creating jobs in deserted rural areas, revenues for small farmers with low income…
Knitting with local yarns is much more than just enjoying the yarn in itself, it’s a commitment to help our planet, just a tiny little bit and to support people doing good things in the world.
UNIQUE AND YET AFFORDABLE
A local natural yarn is usually a very small production. Lots of companies have different yarn qualities from year to year because the sheeps, the weather and lot of parameters were different. It’s like a Grand Cru of wine or tea, it’s completely unique!
When you knit them, you sometimes find little bits of straw weaved in, just to remind you of where it came from. Not two local natural yarns are alike and it’s like a little adventure whenever you try one. It’s no superwash merinos, these yarns have different textures. You will be able to discover different sheep breeds, some are incredibly light, some have a more rustic feel, some are naturally greasy... When dyed, they take on the color differently and can be dyed on base that aren’t 100 % white which gives them very rich and deep tones. When undyed you can marvel at the beautiful natural color of the sheep fleeces.
Local natural yarns are the exact opposit to the standardization that comes from big productions. And to me, that’s what make them so beautiful.
With something that unique, you would think that it has to be super expensive, but not even!
When creating my collection Terroir, I was amazed to see how reasonably priced all of these yarns were. The average price is under 15€ per 100 grams, the minimum being at 8€, the maximum at 25€. The short distribution channel allows these brands to keep their price pretty low which makes their yarn accessible.