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Yarn Over Red Label
Introducing our first line of yarn: Red Label. This yarn has a very special story, both its origin and its personal meaning to me.
In college, when I still lived with my parents on their farm, I decided I wanted to get chickens. I went to a rural living workshop sponsored by my local County Extension office and met a farmer there named Bridgette Tojek. She was known as a "chicken lady" and taught a class on chicken keeping as well as making goat's milk soap. She's one of those people who's good at everything! When I eventually ordered chicks it was a group order with her and, as I was still finishing my semester of school, I asked her if she could take care of the chicks until the end of the semester. Through this experience we became friends and she was always there when I had questions or problems.
Upon taking over the store I began paying greater attention to local farmers. One of my greatest ambitions was to provide an effective marketplace for local farmers to sell their fiber. Then I saw the pictures of her lambs Bridgette posted on social media. This was the beginning of Red Label.
From there we decided I would purchase the raw fleece outright and send it off to be processed. After researching local mills I discovered there's one right nearby in Prattsburgh: Autumn Mist Fiber Mill. On a beautiful sunny day I drove to the farm and mill and met Leslie, her alpacas, and took a tour of the mill. I was in luck that she was just about to start processing wool, her main fiber is alpaca, and was able to squeeze my fleeces in and get a quick turnaround.
Red Label is from a Jacob/Icelandic cross flock. Jacob sheep are ancient and well known for being piebald, meaning they have irregular patches of color. This was the coloring of the majority of the fleeces and created the beautiful, nuanced gray seen in the pictures. Naturally, it's name is Piebald. I was also lucky in that there was one bag of this beautiful and rich brown, Easy as Pie, as well as two bags of the beautiful Pie in the Sky silver. As you can see I decided to go all in with the pie theme!
The final product is a textured 2-ply yarn that is rustic in its appearance and soft in your hand. A little lanolin still remains, making you feel connected to the sheep, the land, and the knitting of the past. The yarn beautifully showcases lace work and cables, as well as colorwork. The Piebald and Easy as Pie are a tad more weighty than the Pie in the Sky, making any knitted motif that much more dynamic.
We are proud of this yarn. We are proud of this region of New York State and its farms and mills. We can't wait to see what comes next!
Pete MacDonald is a farmer and retired teacher who kee...