Tools + Supplies

Published on April 2nd, 2009 | by Kelly Rand


Yearn Worthy Yarn: Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool

Thirteen Mile Farm is located in big sky country in Belgrade, Montana. Here you’ll find about 100 sheep being raised on a farm that looks out for the environmental concerns of its livestock and the land.

Owned and operated by Becky Weed and Dave Tyler, this pair are still learning ways to green up their farm but currently practice crop and animal rotation, use plants instead of chemicals for fertilizers and never use antibiotics or hormones in their sheep. They are certified organic by the USDA
and have a Predatory Friendly certification as well. That means they do not use lethal methods to deter predators. This is especially crucial in areas such as Montana and other farming states where important predators are on the come back, such as wolves.

While these are great and wonderful points about the farm, we’re here for the yarn!

From Thirteen Mile:

With our shift to start-to-finish wool processing here in our barn, we are now able to put more energy into providing the raw materials for the fibers arts — yarns, roving, batts, yarns and needle felting materials. The yarns include a range of natural colors, along with a selection of natural vegetable-dyed fibers blended with our natural grays and browns to varying degrees for a range of heathers. Thirteen Mile yarns are spun on the semi-worsted system; this means that the fibers are pin-drafted after carding and before spinning, yielding lustrous, strong yarns that are less prone to pilling than yarns spun on the woolen system. Thirteen Mile yarns are made with our organic wool, certified by the Montana Department of Agriculture.

You’ll find seven different undyed skeins and twelve(!) plant dyed skeins of 100% wool. I love the variety and bright colors that plants can give. Thirteen Mile also has a small selection of wool-alpaca blend, perfect for a softer feel. The alpaca fiber is sourced from Alpacas of Montana and you’ll also find batts, roving and felt in an aplaca-wool blend.

As stated above all the fiber from the farm is processed right no the farm. So you know how the yarn was created from start to finish. You can read more about their process and how they are consistent in their organic certification over on their website. Be sure to check out their solar hot water panels on the roof of the barn!

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About the Author

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting. Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.

2 Responses to Yearn Worthy Yarn: Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool

  1. Pat Foster says:

    I am so pleased to see a growing number of ‘ethical’ yarns available. I stopped knitting about 5 years ago, but am beginning to feel tempted to pick up the needles again. This is thanks to inspiring producers like Thirteen Mile!

  2. Wool is such a fabulous product. Beats most things for warmth and doesn’t need lots of chemicals to make it look and feel wonderful. Let’s hope it makes a comeback. It lasts a long time and can be easily recycled, so we won’t need to throw out our wardrobe every season because its all worn out. And just imagine the benefits to us of clothes and home textiles made from wool from ‘happy’ sheep ? Great for the eco system, too. Did you know you can get paper made from sheep poo? Awesome !

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