The Loop is thrilled to announce another member of our “House” yarn line! Introducing… “Southern Alberta Aran!”
A truly local yarn, from sheep to dye pot. It has a really great story, and we’d love to share it with you…
Step One – The Fibre
Heidi, of Heart West Haven farm, has a small flock of between 10 – 15 sheep which can swell to up to 35 animals at lambing time. Her flock is composed of Corriedale, Merino, Shetland, Cotswold, Romney, and Rambouillet sheep which allows her to blend for her desired fibre outcome. She focusses on happy, healthy sheep. The flock has a great barn, and is fed twice a day from feeding stations that are kept off the ground. Fibre Fun Fact 1: Heidi makes canvas sheep coats which are worn by the ewes to help keep their fleece cleaner.
Lambing time happens from the end of April to August, and you can contact Heart West Haven to visit the lambs. They also sell fresh eggs and sheep “fertiliser” which is great for your garden. As well as her fibre and other products from her farm, Heidi also runs a work share program, where people stay on the farm, and receive room and board in exchange for helping her on the farm. She hosts many people, lots are from cities, and they’re eager to learn how to work with the animals, and gain a greater understanding of animals and how day to day life on the farm works. Plus, she also runs a Bed and Breakfast at the farm. More information is available on her website here!
Step Two – The Yarn
The raw fleece travels from Heart West Haven to Carstairs, home of Custom Woolen Mills.
Custom Woolen Mills is a local, family run business that’s been providing yarn and wool products for over 35 years.
They wash the raw fleece at the mill, using a mild, plant-based, detergent that is also biodegradable and environmentally friendly. This process removes dirt and vegetable matter from the fleece. Fibre Fun Fact 2: Custom Woolen Mills collects this after the washing process is completed, and combines it with straw, which they use for compost.
The fleece is then spun around in a centrifuge, which removes the excess water. After it’s dry, it’s then carded on vintage, US built machines from between 1895 – 1927. Spinning is done on a spinning mill from 1910 that will spin 192 bobbins at once! Fibre Fun Fact 3: Custom Woolen Mills is the only mill in Canada to still use a spinning mule.
From Custom Woollen Mills it comes to us, making a circuit of within 300 km, where Annie dyes it into the amazing colours you see here.