We are excited to welcome Sara Healey from Buckwheat Bridge to Knitty City on Saturday, September 23 from 2-4pm. Buckwheat Bridge is a sustainable local Fiber Farm and Mill in the Hudson Valley. They are completely Solar and Wind powered, thus implementing their philosophy of renewable energy. Learn about how Buckwheat Bridge yarn is processed before you buy their gorgeous hand dyed yarns.
Buckwheat Bridge's fine Cormo wool and Mohair yarn is produced by their Cormo sheep and Angora goats. Those who visit Wool and Sheep festivals must already know about Buckwheat Bridge hand dyed yarns. We are in awe of how Sara Healey runs her farm and cannot wait to hear her story. We asked her a few questions so you can get a glimpse of what it entails to run a farm and mill.
Q and A with Sara Healey
Q: What does it mean to you to practice sustainable agriculture?
A: We use methods which reduce our environmental impact, reduce waste and consumption of resources. For instance, covering our sheep with coats year round reduces the amount of debris and dirt in the fleece. That means we use less water and soap to get the fleece clean for processing. Reducing environmental impact by using alternative energy - 11K wind, 10K solar.
Q: How many goats and Cormo Sheep do you have today?
A: 200 fine wool sheep, about 25 of which are Cormo. Cormo are ONLY white. That's the breed standard. The Breed organizations do NOT recognize any color other than white as a Cormo. Cormos were developed in Tasmania in the 1960's specifically as sheep that produced a fine wool WHITE fleece.
Q: Did you always want to have a farm with goats and sheep? Was it a longtime dream come true?
A: Not always. I was interested in knitting from a young age, learned to spin in my 20's and got sheep soon after.
Q: Do you hand dye the fiber yourself? Where do you find inspiration for the colors?
A: Yes, everything is done on the farm start to finish by either myself or the woman who works with me in the mill, Margot. Color inspiration comes from the things we see everyday.
Q: What are the challenges of your business? What do you love most of your business?
A: The challenges are many, but I would say marketing the product - fiber products born, raised and processed in NY State, is very challenging. We do not buy and resell anything. If an item has our farm name on it, it's from our farm. Some 'fiber farms' buy yarn commercially (from china or elsewhere) dye it and then put their farm label on it. The cost basis of those types of products is much less, takes much less work than raising and producing the product yourself. There really are no labeling regulations or laws requiring transparency in this type of labeling right now - using the name "farm" or "green" product or "sustainable". So consumers really need to be savvy when they read labels, question what those words mean. Maybe by asking those questions they'd determine that a product is labeled nebulously - giving the impression its entirely from a farm, when it's really mostly from somewhere else and just dyed and packaged on a farm...
Projects with Buckwheat Bridge yarns
We wanted to show you a couple of projects made with Buckwheat Bridge yarn. First up is a design by Melanie Berg named Whiteout in 80/20 Finewool kid mohair:
Next up is a design by the famous Alice Starmore called Fulmar knit in 80/20:
And the following design is by designer Dee O'Keefe named Ashton Shawl 70% Kid Mohair / 30% Fine Wool:
Join us Saturday, September 23rd for a meet and greet with Sara Healey of Buckwheat Bridge! And just so you know, three lambs of Sara's flock are grazing at the Basilica of Old St. Patrick's Cathedral at 273 Mott Street in Manhattan. The New York Times wrote an article about lamb-scaping, featuring Sara's three lambs.
Find Buckwheat Bridge yarns on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/brands/buckwheat-bridge-angoras
Buckwheat Bridge website: http://bwbagoats.com/hudsonvalley/