At Knit Purl, we believe that each knitter is an artist. All of the elements of your carefully-honed craft come together to form beautiful garments: the perfect cast on, an elegant stitch, a lovingly stitched seam. A big part of creating an exceptional garment is starting with exceptional materials. But in Portland, and many other parts of the world, the definition of ‘exceptional’ has changed to not just include the final product, but also the process of creating that product.
When choosing yarn for our store, we do our best to make sure that we research these details so that we can feel good about buying yarn, and you can too. Malabrigo Yarn is one of our favorites, and for reasons that extend far beyond the fantastic color range and super-soft hand of each and every skein. They don’t just understand yarn — they understand quality, and that makes them a Knit Purl Staff Pick.
Malabrigo’s merino is sourced from several different farms across Uruguay, but each of them operates under similar tenets. Sheep are kept in manageable sized herds, and are managed day and night by shepherds. These gauchos follow the herds across the rocky landscape, protecting the sheep from predators and helping to keep the flock together as they cross thousands of acres, grazing on grasses and weeds. If a sheep is attacked, they provide prompt medical care — unnecessary losses are not tolerated. Sheep are never brought to a barn outside of shearing season. The rest of the time, they roam free over the land.
Shearing is conducted by carefully trained, professional shearers. A good shearer is gentle but firm, handling the sheep expertly and removing the fleece in a few simple cuts. The sheep are then tagged and released back out into pens, where they will be sorted, ewe from ram, and re-released to graze. Breeding season is short and closely monitored so that the ewes are not stressed — stressed sheep make for brittle wools.
After the wool is collected, it is sorted by quality. Each fleece is evaluated for micron count, and only the finest wools are purchased by Malabrigo for use in their super-soft yarns. The wool is then sent to a spinning mill to be cleaned, processed, and eventually spun. The mills that Malabrigo uses are all Oeko-Tex certified, meaning they have to follow certain requirements and regulations for the amount of chemicals used on the textiles.
After the wool is spun, it is sent to Malabrigo’s mill, where it is dyed. All the water used in Malabrigo’s processes is recycled, and the system they use to heat both the mill and the water is solar-electric. Any water that cannot be re-used is sent to a filtration and detoxification center in Uruguay, and is not released into the environment.
It feels good to know where your yarn comes from — and this is why Knit Purl continues to support brands that make the effort to maintain quality not only in the yarn, but in the lives of the animals and the people who produce it.