Inspired by some blog posts about buying yarn from local farms and also after reading articles about the cruel treatment of sheep in the countries that most of our yarn comes from, I decided to start knitting with yarn from local sheep.
After all, even though I live in a very industrialized area, even here I see tons of sheep happily grazing on the banks of the river Rhine all the time. So there must be lots of yarn from those sheep that I could buy right?
Wrong. After doing some internet research I found out that german sheep are kept for the meat only and shearing them is expensive, though necessary. It would apparently be way too expensive to process the wool here, so it is usually burned or otherwise destroyed.
We have lots and lots of sheep here and instead of processing the wool that is here we burn it and import yarn from the other end of the world? Sometimes you can only shake your head at the world we live in.
Nevertheless, there are few select shops that sell local yarn and I ordered a big batch from Finkhof, a shepherding community in southern Germany that has been going strong for over 30 years.
Their yarn is 100% local sheep wool which retains a lot of the good qualities that industrial yarn lacks (such as natural grease content). There a a couple of undyed natural colors and I also got a couple of dyed mustard yellow skeins as well. Paradoxically, these skeins were also a lot cheaper than storebought yarns.
The yarn is pretty rough and scratchy to the touch, but once knit up it actually doesn’t feel scratchy to the skin at all, just cozy and very very warm. After the first wash it is supposed to really soften up as well.
The first thing I’m knitting with it is socks of course, with my new rosewood needles. I can’t wait to wear them inside on winter weekends (we’ve just had our first heavy snow yesterday and it is going to go well below 0°C even in the day in the next couple of weeks).
Like a friend has said recently “If you are taking the trouble and the time to make something yourself, might as well do it properly and with the best quality, organic ingredients”. I find myself more and more looking beyond the rim of consumerism and trying to trace back where my food, yarn and household products come from and for me, that is a very good place to go.