Producing great eco-friendly yarns is a laborious process involving lots of care, dedication and commitment for quality.
The journey to create great wool yarn starts with finding great sheep! We found our sheep at local Romanian shepherds. We looked carefully how the sheep lived and fed - we wanted to ensure that we only buy fleeces from healthy and happy animals, well taken care off and that enjoy their life outside, on natural pastures. Luckily we found such herds in the vicinity of the village where I grew up! These sheep do not have their tails clipped and no mulesing is practiced on them (mulesing is the removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the buttocks of a sheep. Mostly practiced in warm climates with the argument behind that it prevents flystrike. I personally think it is just a barbarian practice).
Even if the fleeces were of very good quality, they still needed to be cleaned. Living your life on natural pastures has a downside - more vegetable matter tangled in the wool. We first sort the fleeces and kept only the best wool. Then, we pick out the vegetable matter as good as we can, by hand. Next operation is washing - we use warm water, salt and then mild eco-friendly detergents. It is a laborious process and we invest a lot of time and energy into it. Our aim is to remove the dirt and around 70% of the lanolin on the wool (this is important for the spinning phase). And finally, after all this work, we have a beautiful wool that is ready to be sent to the fiber mill!
When we were children there were fiber mills everywhere, close to our place also. But after the 1989 revolution the wool industry collapsed and these old-fashion fiber mills closed, one after the other. We found some that still survived. The machines in these fiber mills are hundred years old, still working and in good shape! But make no mistake - these are not modern machines that can be operated with a push of a button! They are in the family for generations and the craft of spinning yarn was transmitted from parents to children and to grandchildren. Despite the difficulties raised by working with these traditional fiber mills, we were determined to carry on with our initial plan. Visiting these fiber mills and watching their process was like a trip back in time!
At the end of such a long and laborious process is the yarn. After we receive the yarn from the fiber mill we wash it again with eco-friendly detergents, sodium bicarbonate and we rinse it in water with vinegar. We do this because we believe it is important to remove dust and impurities that stick to the lanolin. Still, even this additional wash will not remove all the lanolin on the fiber. When you will use the yarn, your hands will feel the difference! Our yarn is a minimally processed yarn, that means that it still has some vegetable matter and lanolin in it. It is the price of not using any harsh chemical agents during the production of the yarns.
I hope you enjoy using our yarns! And if you like to know more about traditional yarn processing in Romania, here is a collection of short films that I made during my visit to the fiber mills that spin our yarns!