A while back I was blissfully listening to episode 15 of the podcast Woolful. Ashley Yousling and her two guests Sue Blacker and Kim Goodling, were discussing the merits of Gotland sheep, a Swedish breed that American shepherds have been painstakingly trying to recreate from imported semen samples over many years (yes, seriously!).
Gotland is an island a couple of hours from where I live and the sheep are quite common around here. I never really thought about gotland sheep or the wool they produce. Now I got schooled on them from 3 people on the other side of the world.
I have been thinking about the importance of locally produced yarn for a while and this just cemented it. How weird that I orientate myself almost exclusively towards other countries when I look for wool and yarn inspiration. I buy local, organic food, but even though I live in a region known and celebrated for it’s sheep and knitting history I dont apply the same parameters to my yarn purchasing. The internet is so seductive though and it’s hard not to feel a little pang of craving when a new brilliant yarn makes the instafeed.
There is a lot of hype (I mean that in the most positive way) around locally produced yarn, breed specific or even flock specific yarns. The reason for this is probably varied, but I think the most important one is an increased awareness of the declining textile industries in most developed countries, where production is outsourced to other countries and a lot of knowledge lost in the process. In Denmark where I was born there used to be around 60 spinning mills producing yarn, now there are 2, both of which mostly cater to bigger yarn companies, spinning imported wool. In my feed I see yarn by Brooklyn Tweed and Quince and Co and even the British Hole&Sons. Produced locally and marketed as such. So worth supporting.
The problem for me living in Scandinavia, is that none of this amazing movement towards sustainable locally produced wool is local to me. It’s not that we don’t have sheep and wool and amazing yarn here, this is Scandinavia after all. We just don’t have a Brooklyn Tweed or the likes to call attention to the issue. I hope it is a question of time. In the meantime I’m researching to educate myself on what is already taking place in this part of the world. If you have a comment or know of anything exiting and wooly happening in this region please let me know, I would love to hear about it!
The yarn pictured here is spun at Hjelholt, one of the remaining spinning mills in Denmark. It is not entirely, but mostly spun out of beautiful Scandinavian Gotland wool.