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.
My 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.
I buy the wool for my yarn directly from small Maine farms, selecting the fleeces that will go into each yarn. The wool is spun in a small, family run mill, and then I dye it, using plant and insect based dyes sourced from Botanical Colors.
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.
My yarns are a very small batch affair, sometimes as small as two fleeces. Due to a combination of factors, from the weather over a giving growing season, to the mood of the person operating the mill, to the water I use to dye with, my yarns may vary quite a bit from year to year. This is the nature of small batch local yarns. Once a yarn is out of stock I may never be able to make it again, so please purchase enough yarn to complete your project. However, if you have a favorite color or yarn that you don't see anymore but would like to see again, let me know, sometimes I can manage something similar.
I meant to be an archaeologist when I grew up, and this interest informs my knitting. I love traditional designs and traditional yarns. I love the craft and the history of knitting, in all its varied forms. I am especially interested in “working” knitwear; functional, hardy garments that protect people from the elements while also displaying knitterly beauty.
I’m home with a small child for the foreseeable future, but prior to that, like most small crafters, I maintained a “day job”. For about twelve years I was a professional mariner, working in various capacities aboard traditionally rigged schooners, Maine State Ferries, a small cruise ship, and finally and Antarctic research and supply vessel. It was an unexpected career choice for someone who gets seasick in a bathtub, but a life is funny and I fell in love with a schooner, and then with the sea. I wore the gansey to the left while trawling for icefish in the name of science off the coast of the Antarctic peninsula.
If you have any question, or would just like to chat about yarn, please get in touch,