You know those origins that are almost too fantastic to be true? Well, Hudson + West's - our latest yarn and pattern addition to the webshop - one is right there with the best of them. Sloane Rosenthal and Meghan Babin, H+W's co-founders, first came up with the idea of a designer-driven, knitter-focused, 100% US-made yarn company at Rhinebeck, one of the biggest sheep and wool festivals on the planet. On a napkin.
Fast forward to 2019 when they formally founded Hudson + West Co and embarked on the journey of creating "yarns thatsupport the ready-to-wear inspired garments and accessories that form the core of the modern knitter’s wardrobe", allthewhile keeping their sourcing and production not only within the US, but also within a traceable, sustainable and fair supply chain.
When Jess, our tech editor and test knitting manager, first suggested Hudson + West as an addition to our shop, I couldn't believe how much of their story and values resonated with ours. I mean, we're all about making things that you'll wear and love for a long, long time - "the core of the modern knitter's wardrobe" - and traceability, fairness and sustainability are prerequisites for every single product that flows through our hands.
Jess also has an unfailing eye for beautiful, versatile yarn, so I immediately set to ordering two skeins, one of each of their bases, and then waited impatiently for their arrival from the US. When I finally unwrapped the parcel, I was smitten - not only were both yarns beautifully squishy and bouncy, they were also unlike any of the other yarns we carry. Plus, they had put a gift copy of one of Meghan's hat patterns in the parcel - talk about enabling a knitter!
I immediately contacted Sloane to see whether they'd be interested in working with us as their first European stockist. Hudson + West is really well known in the US, and carried by some of our favorite yarn shops, but so far, there were no shops here in Europe stocking it. I sent off that email, and crossed my fingers - maybe they'd actually be interested? And then I got the loveliest reply back - yes, they would! *Cue happy dance*
Our original idea of launching the yarns in the summer got thwarted by delivery, shipping and financial issues, but I am so glad we waited a little while because now we can not only show you the beautiful two yarns from Hudson + West, but also their brand-new Autumn / Winter 2022 collection! (Stay tuned for another blog post coming up on the patterns!)
Working with Sloane, Meghan and Jocelyn has been so, so sweet. You know I love when a company we work with is not only great when it comes to sustainability in their products, but also their relationships - and the team at Hudson + West went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and help us prepare as best as we can for the launch. (THANK YOU!!!) It just adds an extra layer of delight to new products when you know they're made by genuinely good people.
"Made" is an excellent segue into the actual production process of the yarn, which is the last thing I want to share with you in today's blog post. As you know, all the products we carry are sustainably produced. Sometimes, though, it's hard to know what exactly "sustainably" means in this context - is it a certificate? Traceability? Knowing the people who make things and their processes?
Hudson + West are super transparent when it comes to their production process - more transparent than any other yarn company I've worked with so far. Their two yarn bases, Forge (worsted) and Weld (fingering), are a blend of 70% Merino and 30% Corriedale, both sourced in the US.
Their Merino - both white and grey - is grown on larger ranches in Colorado and New Mexico, their Corriedale comes from smaller farms in upstate New York. (Here's a fascinating article about their sourcing!) Why Merino and Corriedale? "Blending Merino and Corriedale fleece gives us the best of both worlds: the majority-Merino mix gives us great softness, loft, and next-to-skin wearability, while the Corriedale adds wonderful natural color and enough strength and durability for heirloom-quality FOs."
After sourcing, the fleeces travel to Buffalo, Wyoming to be scoured, carded, drafted and spun at Mountain Meadow Wool. Forge and Weld are so-called "semi-worsted" yarns, meaning that the fibers are combed somewhat before spinning, so that they are more organized than for a woollen-spun yarn, but not as much as in a worsted-spun yarn. This way, the resulting yarn is airy and bouncy, but also has great stitch definition and strength.
A portion of the undyed yarns are then sent on to Ultimate Textile in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, where they are dyed into the beautiful, slightly heathered shades we've come to love. They then travel back to Hudson + West who send them on their way into loving stockist and knitter's hands all over the globe!
They're truly spectacular yarns, made by a very special company. I am so delighted that we get to carry them, and I hope you join me in a very warm welcome for them!
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