Thursday, August 5, 2010

Made in the USA. Part 1.

OK, reach over to your basket or shelf or pail and grab that skein of Brown Sheep yarn. Got it? Nice. Know where it came from? Mitchell Nebraska right? Sort of...

On a mountain slope in Colorado live several herds of 80,000 sheep. They spend their days growing soft wooly coats. When the ranchers shear them, we have an order in to buy the dirty greasy wool. It is shipped in giant bales to our factory.

Upon reciept of the raw wool, we send it down to South Carolina to be washed, carded (lining up all the fibers in the same direction), and combed (removing the short fibers).  The freshly washed, carded, and combed wool--weighing half of what it did when it arrived in South  Carolina--is shipped back to our mill in western Nebraska for processing into beautiful high-quality yarn.

We turn it into roving--great for purchase by those of you who like to spin and dye your own wool products. It comes in 25-pound "bumps."

At this point we spin the wool into yarn. It is all white since the dye-master has not gotten his hands on it yet.

Once we have the yarn all ready to go and put up into fiber-content batches, the dye-master checks the orders from the warehouse and prepares his dye vats. With secret Brown Sheep dye recipes, the yarn is turned from creamy white to verdant greens, vibrant blues, rich reds and a host of oranges, yellows, purples and yes, black and white--a feast for the eyes.

From here the freshly dyed yarn is passed through state-of-the-art drying machines. Now it is just a matter of measuring out a consistant yardage and putting up the yarn in hanks, skeins and balls.
A load of freshly dyed Lamb's Pride headed into the dryer.
A brand new skein that just got a label slapped on it.


  1. It's great to know more about the production side of things, and more about the environment - especially for those of us who don't live in the US! What breed are the sheep?

  2. Hmmm, I think we'll see a blog post soon on this topic. There are a number of good wool sheep that we use. More details to follow in a separate post I think. Stay tuned.