To perhaps state the obvious, I love wool. For me wool is safety and security and artistic expression all in one. A hand knit wool sweater is both a tie to tradition and a hug made manifest.
What was a passion for knitting has evolved into a passion for all the preceding bits - what breed of sheep did the wool come from? where did that sheep live? what is the history of the breed? what was used to dye it? All of this is fascinating and it matters both to the functionality of the finished garment and to the experience of knitting. Different breeds of sheep produce fleece with different qualities; strength, softness, luminosity. Matching the project to the correct wool type can make all the difference between a garment one likes well enough and a garment one wears every day.
Knitting is an endeavor that ties one to a larger community: a community of knitters obviously, but also to a community of sheep and fiber enthusiast, shearers, spinners, dyers, dye producers and etc. Often, at the point of purchase, this second community is invisible and the wool reduced to a mere commodity.
The wool for my yarn comes from backyard flocks and small farms in New England. It is spun at a small, family run, mill to my specifications, and then I dye it, using natural dyes (most plant based) sourced from Botanical Colors, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association El Salvador Sistering Project, and sometimes Earthues.
To sum it all up: Through Upton Yarns I want to support small farmers and breed enthusiasts, heirloom and rare sheep breeds, small fiber related businesses, and natural dye producers, all in the service of creating amazing yarn, which will hopefully be turned into a treasured heirloom and see many generations of use.
Check back often - I'm always adding new colors.
I meant to be an archaeologist when I grew up, but somewhere during that (long) gap between college and grad school applications my life took a left turn, and I ended up working aboard traditionally rigged schooners (this one being my gateway drug). Many adventurous years later, and no closer to grad school, I find myself in Maine, working for the Maine State Ferry Service, living in a real house, finally able to indulge my decades long passion for yarn. And I get to garden too! (Though I am far better at the yarn).
Sept 2013: I have a new day job! I will continue to fill in on the Maine State Ferries, but I am now the Assistant Engineer on the National Geographic Sea Lion, a small cruise ship that sails in Alaska during the summer, Costa Rica and Panama in the Winter, and the Columbia river (among other places) in between. Unless we are offshore, I will be able to respond to questions and accept orders (orders will be shipped in my absence) but I won't be able to do any custom dyeing until I get home. We work for about six weeks on the boat, and then I will be home (and dyeing) for about six weeks. I will keep the message on the home page message updated in regards to my general location.
Thank you for your interest and patience,