Making Forge + Weld

Both Forge and Weld are spun and dyed at Mountain Meadow Wool in Buffalo, Wyoming. Getting fiber from sheep to skein is a multi-step process (and a bit of a messy one). Our sheepy friends are not the world’s cleanest animals, and finewool sheep like Merinos produce a significant amount of lanolin (an oily substance that coats the fleece and ultimately protects the fibers as they grow). So, once the fleece comes off the sheep, it has to be scoured to remove (most) of the lanolin and vegetable matter (hay, grass, etc.) that sheep pick up throughout the year. Finewools like Merino (which have shorter staple lengths) need special processing equipment to process the raw fleece, so we purchase what’s known as “combed top,” or Merino fiber that has already been scoured and carded. 

We purchase Corriedale fleece from wool pools, and that raw fleece is scoured, carded, and pin drafted directly at MMW. We then combine natural colored and Corriedale fleece and white and grey Merino in various ratios in the later stages of the process, depending on the colorway we’re trying to produce. Our yarn is what’s known as a semi-worsted yarn, so the fibers are combed before spinning to be more “organized” than in a woolen-spun yarn, but not as much as in a traditional worsted-spun yarn, where the yarn would be pin drafted until all the fibers were lying flat and pointing in the same direction before spinning. The yarn is then spun and plied, and the neutrals (Ash, Fawn, and Aspen) are scoured again to remove spinning oil, before they’re hanked, labeled, and prepared for sale.

The team at MMW then gets a huge portion of our spun yarn ready fro the next step in this process — dyeing. Dyeing over grey adds depth and complexity to the colors we’re able to get, as does our mix of fibers: the Merino and Corriedale fibers in our yarn absorb dye differently, producing a multidimensional color and the slightest hint of sheen in some of the shades. After dyeing, these shades get washed (again!), hanked, labeled, and sent to HQ East.

We think our manufacturing partners are the best at what they do, and every time we see new colors come out of the dye house or more natural skeins come back from the mill, we’re thrilled. We’re also psyched about the fact that manufacturing in the northeast corridor allows us to minimize our carbon footprint as much as possible (recognizing that a product with this many steps in its process is always going to involve some shipping), and allows us to support what we hope is a resurgence in American textile manufacturing. American wool—and the farmers who produce it(!)—is amazing, and we want to be able to honor both that raw material and our values by turning it into the best yarn we can as traceably, sustainably, ethically, and environmentally responsibly as we can, and to us, this means doing it right here at home. It is not the cheapest or the most straightforward way to make yarn, but to us, the benefits of ending up with a product that both feels amazing to touch and that we can feel amazing about are worth it.

We’re happy to answer questions about our supply chain and our process, and we’re open to your feedback about ways that we can better serve both our customers and our values as we work on producing future batches of our yarn. We expect that there will always be evolutions in this process, but our core commitments remain the same, and we hope that knowing a bit more about who you are supporting along the way helps you get to know both us and our yarn a little bit better.

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