Attending the Texas Yarn Lovers event last month was a great experience in so many ways (you can read about that here). It was very rewarding to hear people who have been in this field for years complimenting our first batch of processed roving. We also came to the realization that while the people we met all share a common interest, this particular market is a very specialized niche and we are currently a tiny niche within that niche. If we are going to become successful at this endeavor, we are going to have to invest much more time (and money) into processing our wool even further. Here are just a few of the ways we are planning to move forward.
The spinners we have spoken with so far really do love our roving, but many of them want to spin wool that is already dyed in a rainbow of colors and patterns. There were countless examples on display at the Yarn Lovers event and we spent quite a bit of time examining these beautiful yarns and roving. The mill we had our wool processed at also had a booth at the even and it just so happened that she was doing a wool dying class. Since we had not yet colored any of our wool, she let us color one of our balls of roving in her indigo dye and it came out beautifully. There’s definitely a learning curve here, but I know we will get more interest if we put some color on our shelves.
I had seen and heard of people who do felting, but until the Yarn Lover’s event I had no idea how beautiful and versatile felting can be. One of the first things I did when we came home was dig into articles and video tutorials on both wet and needle felting. Within a few days I had already created my first piece of wet felt and we just received a needle felting kit. I’m very excited about where this could go. Now if only there were about 6 more hours in each day!
My wonderful wife who has been the inspiration for all things woolie absolutely loves to spin. But like me, there are only so many hours in a day for a busy household and farm to devote to hand spinning this beautiful Debouillet wool. She does as much as she can, but we are going to need to speed up that process if we are going to succeed at marketing our wool as yarn. Thankfully the mill that processed our wool will also machine spin it so we are planning to have a portion of this year’s wool processed into yarn. It doesn’t have quite the same look, feel, or satisfaction as hand-spun wool, but I believe this is going to be some wonderful yarn that people are going to love.
We are so very glad to have found Independence Wool and look forward to a long and happy partnership. That said, processing isn’t free and as our flock grows, so does our processing expense. We have no plans to reduce the amount of wool that we will have processed, but we are investing in our own small hoby farm equipment to process small batches of the wool here on the farm. This is yet another labor-intensive idea that also requires a not-so-small financial investment, but we think there is good reason to do some of the processing ourselves. If nothing else, the educational aspect can teach us a lot about our wool!
Further down the line is a hope to begin small weaving projects. There is so much to learn in this area that it isn’t something that either of us wants to jump in too quickly. Instead, we are going to develop the skills that we think we can master a little quicker and then slowly enter into small looms for art and craft ideas.
As you can see, the wheels of innovation are spinning wildly here on Whirl’d Works Farm! It does sound like a lot, perhaps even a bigger bite than we can chew, but then again, just three short years ago we were just moving onto the farm from our lives in the city!
We would love to hear any ideas or advice from those of you who have been involved in this “little” wool addiction for a while, so please feel free to comment on our page or send us a note on the contact page.
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