In any yarn store, you’ll discover shelves laden with merino wools, sourced and produced all over the world. Sometimes, it feels like if you have seen one merino, you have seen them all. Soft to the touch, merino has become one of the most favored wools in the yarn industry for good reason. It has changed the way that people feel about wool, and opened the door for other breeds like Polworth, Rambouillet, and Targhee.
But occasionally, a merino comes along that is something truly special. With 17 microns and a hand more like cashmere than merino, there’s no denying that Kristin Ford’s new enterprise, Woolfolk, features a merino that is beyond the ordinary. Ovis XXI, a collaborative group of farmers, has a major hand in producing the superfine merino that Woolfolk’s two introductory yarns Får and Tynd are made from. Their methodology expands the horizons of wool conservancy and production for the industry.
Patagonia, a region shared by both Argentina and Chile, has long been a source of beautiful wools, but with increased knowledge and application of environmental conservancy measures, farmers there are taking new steps to maintain the rich grasslands through more conscious grazing procedures.
With such a thoughtful beginning, it’s no wonder that Kristin’s end product, Woolfolk, has an equally thought-out development. The line is a celebration of high-end materials and the knits they become. Inspired by the simple beauty of the Scandinavian and Dutch cultures, Kristin named her line’s introductory yarns Får and Tynd. Får, which means simply sheep, is a worsted-weight, chainette-structured yarn that knits up with lofty decadence. Tynd, which means fine, is a fingering-weight, plied yarn fills in the rest of the line, giving a wide range of gauge options for those hoping to knit with this ultra-soft merino.
Kristin wanted to start with a color palette that would reflect the knitting season.
“I’m not trying to make yarns for spring,” she explains. “Knitting is something done to keep warm, to calm and to occupy in colder months. It just makes more sense to embrace that than fight against it!”
The palette, which contains cozy, comfortable colors in shades of mushroom, indigo, and cabernet, is beautifully utilized in an introductory collection by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, a designer we’re quite familiar with at Knit Purl.
“Olga seemed like such a natural choice. I had worked with her in the past and had a connection with her—her designs are technically meticulous, interesting and have an engineered feel to them, which works very well with my personal history in architecture,” Kristin explained in our interview.
“We had a lot of Skype sessions, it was a very collaborative process. I required that the pieces have minimal seaming but still looked structured. The final pieces truly reflect the wide variety of textures and shapes achievable in these yarns.”
There are more patterns in line for Woolfolk, too. Antonia Shankland, a designer you might be familiar with from some of her Shibui patterns, has a trio of accessory pieces due to be released later in the month. Kristin is busy daily, sending out the yarn to flagship stores from her home base.
“It’s a warehouse where we used to make hard cider. We send the apples now to be pressed elsewhere, it’s nice to be able to use a space on the farm. I ride 200 yards on a bike, past the goats and the barns, to the warehouse each morning. It’s a new identity for me, warehouse handler, yarn manufacturer,” she explains.
With such a rich history behind it, we can’t wait to see what the next year for Woolfolk holds.