Knitting is an endeavor that ties one to a larger community: a community of knitters obviously, but also to a community of sheep and fiber enthusiast, shearers, spinners, dyers, dye producers and etc. Often, at the point of purchase, this second community is invisible and the wool reduced to a mere commodity.
My passion for knitting has evolved into a passion for all the preceding bits - what breed of sheep did the wool come from? where did that sheep live? what is the history of the breed? what was used to dye it? All of this is fascinating and it matters both to the functionality of the finished garment and to the experience of knitting. Different breeds of sheep produce fleece with different qualities; strength, softness, luminosity. Matching the project to the correct wool type can make all the difference between a garment one likes well enough and a garment one wears every day.
The wool for my yarn comes from backyard flocks and small farms in New England. It is spun in a small, family run "mini-mill" to my specifications, and then I dye it, using plant based dyes, and occasionally one insect based dye, sourced from Botanical Colors, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association El Salvador Sistering Project, and sometimes Earthues.
To sum it all up: Through Upton Yarns I want to support small farmers and breed enthusiasts, heirloom and rare sheep breeds, small fiber related businesses, and natural dye producers, all in the service of creating amazing yarn, which will hopefully be turned into a treasured heirloom and see many generations of use.
My yarns are a very small batch affair, sometimes as small as two fleeces. Due to a combination of factors, from the weather over a giving growing season, to the mood of the person operating the mill, to the water I use to dye with, my yarns may vary quite a bit from year to year. This is the nature of small batch local yarns. Once a yarn is out of stock I may never be able to make it again, so please purchase enough yarn to complete your project. However, if you have a favorite color or yarn that you don't see anymore but would like to see again, let me know, sometimes I can manage something similar.
I meant to be an archaeologist when I grew up, and this interest informs my knitting. I love traditional designs and traditional yarns. I love the craft and the history of knitting, in all its varied forms.
Like most small crafters, I maintain a day job - and mine is a bit unusual. I am an Assistant Engineer aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion, a small cruise ship operated by Lindblad Expeditions. I work on a six weeks on, six weeks off rotation, meaning that for six weeks I get to focus on textiles and dyeing at home, and for the following six weeks I am anywhere from Alaska to Panama depending on the season, maintaining the systems of a boat that carries about a hundred people.
My wonderful mother, Catherine, graciously volunteered to handle the shipping while I am away. I'm not entirely sure if she knew what she was getting into at the time, but she has become an essential part of Upton Yarns.
If you have any question, or would just like to chat about yarn, please get in touch,