My Design Inspiration: Jeane deCoster

Our guest blogger this week is Jeane deCoster, owner of Elemental Affects, a yarn company out of Desert Hot Springs, California. Elemental Affects has four yarn lines: Shetland, Romney, Cormo, and Civility (our favorite). Jeane's mission is to "sell yarns that touch the feelings of knitters and evoke an emotional response."

My first love is finding the breeders who are working hard to raise their animals with care for the quality of the wool, the health of their animals, and the environment. Although it can be crazy-making, I also enjoy finding and using our dwindling U.S. manufacturing resources to scour and spin the yarn. Then, there's how cool the whole mad scientist/alchemy thing is when I design and dye the colors.

I started Elemental Affects with my Natural Shetland yarn.  A yarn that shouldn't have been possible – the sheep are too small, there aren't enough of them and the larger U.S. mills that charge commercially viable spinning prices don't like processing the wool.  The same could also be said for the second yarn, Fancy Tiger Heirloom Romney which is too long for most of our mills to happily spin.

These original yarns are a reflection of both my journey of learning and the community that continues to help me make the impossible – possible! Both are naturally-colored, rustic, heritage style yarns spun at a multi-generational commercial mill in Massachusetts.  Who'd have thought that a mill that makes baseball guts by the thousands could make such yummy, knit-table yarns?

But the journey continues! These yarns are not soft and knitters love soft – soft and luxurious!

What to do? Well, a wonderful opportunity came along to add Cormo fleece to my line of yarn – a very soft, Merino-style fleece with a little bit of extra luster and length that makes a wonderful “against your skin soft” yarn. It is a great addition to my breed-specific line of yarns.

But luxury called and knitters want soft and luxurious.  So, when a friend (Tina Whitmore of Freia Yarns) came to me with a challenge to replace one of her European import yarns with a domestic version of the yarn – using U.S. Mills, U.S. Merino wool and silk  – I thought, here's my chance! On my part, I wanted to meet her challenge and make absolutely sure the yarn was not only soft but strong, very resistant to pilling and affordable – hence the choices of using 3-plies in each weight and a bit more twist than usual and big, full-size 4oz skeins with lots of yardage.  

I love a challenge. In many ways, this is the most American yarn I've ever made – even including the use of the silk which comes from China! After all, Americans all have a bit of “somewhere else” in them. Finding a ready supply of fine U.S. Merino, a reliable source of silk and a U.S. mill with the expertise to mix and spin the yarn consistently was truly a challenge but ultimately rewarding.

And so, my yarn Civility was born! (Civility, because all the parts of the yarn “plays well together.”)

Next time . . . the magic of colors and the difference between dyeing over the naturally-colored Shetland and Romney yarn versus the all-white Cormo and Civility.

August 22, 2016 by Guest Blogger
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Judith said:

I love the story. It’s so interesting to learn about what it takes to create such beautiful yarn. Congratulations!

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