Strong vendor relationships are something of great value to a business like ours. One of our very first connections we made in the industry was our yarn suppliers, Lori and Shawn Malloy of US Natural Fibers. When we first met with them we knew this was going to be a beautiful thing. They understood the vision from day one and they had the experience needed to guide us through the process.
It all started with a mission to find a yarn that was locally sourced, sustainable, and of course super soft. In my search I found US Natural Fibers, I couldn't believe they were only a short drive down the road in Springfield, KY. Lori and Shawn are a husband and wife duo behind this small batch fiber mill. They have had their hands on every step of the process, from raising the alpacas to sheering to cleaning to spinning the final yarns. It's their experience, combined with their love for what they do, that make them experts in developing perfect yarn.
From Lori and Shawns heard. Mom and baby enjoying the farm in Springfield, KY.
When we first began working together they walked us through understanding the grades of alpaca fibers so that we could land a yarn that checked all our boxes. We then used this luxury yarn and develop our heirloom throw blankets and throw pillows.
Cable knit throw pillow made from our signature alpaca yarns
Not only do these two manufacture for us but they have their own brands. Altera is their high performing and super comfortable alpaca knit socks and Kentucky Royalty their alpaca felt hats that we love so much we added them to our Handmade Home collection.
Alpaca felt outback hat from Kentucky Royalty
Making room for their booming product lines and consulting business, they will be passing a lot of their production equipment on to another mill in Oklahoma, Scissor-Tail Yarn and Fiber Mill.
We took a trip down to visit them last week and capture a behind the scenes look at how our alpaca yarn is made before the machines get packed up and moved on down the road.
But this is not a goodbye to beloved yarn vendor, far from it. As we grow, they are using their extensive network in the industry to connect us to area farmers who supply the raw fiber and introducing us to the right mill that will meet our needs. Continuing our mission of working with local sustainable materials that are sourced locally from heritage herds and farmers who care for them.
Behind the scenes look:
Lori carefully loading the raw fibers onto the belt of a machine that is going to remove vegetation that is still holding onto the fibers after wash. She has to spread the fiber very thin for the the tiny specks of plant to be picked out by the machine.
Clean fibers being released from industrial size combs
Spinning machines and factory floor
Finished yarn can be spun onto cones to be used by industrial dye houses or knitting machines, this yarn will be used in making Altera socks. But because we work with small batches to custom dye we receive our yarn as a skein so we can hand-dye.
Our signature yarn after being dyed. Hand-dying allows us to customize your treasured heirloom.
What makes our yarn signature? We worked with US Natural Fibers to decide on a grade that gave our yarn a unique softness. They also helped us source Huacaya alpacas. Huacaya unlike other alpaca is known to have a much loftier quality that makes it super soft and bouncy. We also customized our twist, leaving some non-uniform slubs in the yarn gave it a rich texture, referred to as cottage yarns. Results yielding a truly one-of-kind yarn, we highly recommend feeling for yourself!
Their sourcing genius also came into play when we were searching for a sustainable alternative to fill our pillows. During the yarn making process loose fibers fall the the bottom of their equipment because these fibers are too short and therefore aren't suited for making yarn. These waste fibers are then collected by them and bailed up. Instead of having to waste this precious fibers we are able to reuse the fluff. Not only was this choice an excellent sustainable solution it also makes for luxurious fill that is weighted, dense, and comfy.
It's safe to say we love working with this lovely couple and they have added ton of value, depth, heart and soul to our work. We hope you enjoy their yarn as much as we do.
Find out more about our amazing yarn partners on their website.