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June 17, 2022 4 min read

The UK is home to a wealth of woolly knowledge and expert skills, here are some of the companies which we think are leading the way as local masters of yarn…

We are a family-founded totally organic, stunningly sustainable yarn company. What started as a small mixed flock of sheep and some big dreams, has grown into the first ever certified organic wool producers, and an example to follow for the future of wool. We aim to be the best in the industry and maintain an exceptional level of care for our family and our flock. We want to be kind to the planet, kind to people, and kind to animals. Our goal is to make without compromise.

We’ve been planet-loving trail blazers from the very beginning and we will forever continue to be. Nothing is more important to us than the care of the environment which we call home. As such, we’re committed to having a totally climate positive impact. This means offsetting over double of the carbon footprint of everything we make and do - including the entire lifecycle of each skein, through production, use, washing and disposal. This way our manufacturing can be as sustainable as the fibre we work with, allowing us to create conscientiously.

John Arbon Textiles create traditional British-made yarns and tops designed, blended and spun using vintage machinery at their Mill in the heart of North Devon. They are one of only a handful of small-scale worsted spinning mills still operating in the UK. John, who is retiring soon, likes to use fibre specifically from the sheep on his doorstep whenever possible and, with the help of his trusty team, transforms their fleeces into unique and sumptuous blends in the form of worsted spun yarn and tops. The company is now in the process of being handed over by Sonja and Helena who will steer John Arbon Textiles into ever-more exciting chapters for the future.

John Arbon Textiles believe wholeheartedly in the beauty and benefits of British wool, and the value of sourcing and spinning locally. For him, there’s nothing better than the native fleeces of the UK, perfectly designed for our unpredictable UK seasons. Not only this, but the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions as a result of not flying fleeces half way around the globe, is what makes John Arbon Textiles stand out as exceptional within the industry. We love that John is keeping it local and valuing British wool for the incredible fibre it truly is.

Jamieson & Smith have been around since the 1930s, when it was founded by the Smith family of Berry Farm in Scalloway, on the east coast of Shetland. In 2004 the Smith family retired and the current owners joined with Curtis Wool Direct in Yorkshire. Jamieson & Smith continues to be staffed exclusively by Shetlanders and remains a stand alone company. All their profits received from the sale of Real Shetland Wool and Real Shetland Wool products are put directly back into the Shetland economy. The mission of Jamieson & Smith is to truly value the wool producers - the farmers who raise, nurture, and tend to the sheep whose fleeces we couldn’t live without.

Everything Jamieson & Smith do aims to enhance the profile of Shetland wool, so as to raise the prices for local wool producers. A 2009 trading standards investigation revealed that they purchase over 80% of the wool produced in Shetland. Therefore Jamieson & Smith's activities play a vital role in sustaining Shetland's fragile crofting industry, as well as our textiles industry and heritage. To ensure the future of the Shetland wool industry Jamieson & Smith work closely with key organisations, collaborate with new designers and are dedicated to textile innovation and experimentation.

Cambrian Wool have always had a conviction that fine wool could be had from Welsh flocks. The skill of our farmers, along with the sorting and grading processes of the British Wool Marketing Board depot, has only fuelled their passion for sourcing only the best. Just like John Arbon, Cambrian Wool knows that totally locally is the best way to go, and that nothing beats Great British yarn.

The aims of Cambrian Mountains Wool are to facilitate the purchase and processing of the wool produced on the region’s farms, as well as promote local makers and mavericks, and encourage a community interest in textiles. They value the people just as much as the product, and that’s why they’re investing into the future of wool within their community. Cambrian Wool are reigniting a long-dormant passion for fibre crafts, and nurturing a whole new generation of makers who see wool for what it truly is - the most versatile, adaptable, and healthy fibre.

With a firm commitment to using only 100% British wool from shepherds and producers within the United Kingdom, Daughter of a Shepherd aims to support all aspects of British manufacturing in their processing and production. Founded in 2015 by Rachel Atkinson when she discovered that farmers were being paid approximately 3p per kilo of wool fleece, DOaS is passionate about British wool, shepherds, and farmers. Through their support, DOaS hopes to ensure that those skills are retained within the UK.

Their 'go to' breed has always been Hebrideans as Rachel particularly enjoys seeing how much she can do with their natural colour. In the future she is also hoping to use other British breeds as well, in order to develop more yarns. One of the core values of DOaS is to be waste-free, meaning that they use every part of the fleece, and always find a use for any other wool which crosses their path. We love how much DOaS truly cares about our beautiful British sheep and the wealth of knowledge which our local farmers have.

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