Not every shepherd is a knitter. That is what Bobolink Yarns owner Katie Sullivan has realized over her years raising sheep. Indeed, there is an informal divide between shepherds with small fiber flocks who focus on yarn, and shepherds with large flocks focused on meat and other sheep products. For those larger shepherds, spinning their wool into yarn and bringing that yarn to knitters effectively can be a huge challenge – Milling costs, market knowledge and time all stand against such shepherds.
Another struggle: with the rise of dominant online yarn retailers, smaller local yarn shops can struggle to find locally-produced offerings that highlight our unique wool heritage. Local yarn shops are key to the ongoing viability of the fibercraft community, offering lessons, tutelage, inspiration and connection. But they can’t compete with large online entities on price. Yarnshops die off when customers treat them as “showrooms” for merchandise later purchased online.
Tired of seeing shepherds getting poor returns on good wool while local yarn shops struggle to stock local yarns, Bobolink Yarns aims to bridge the sheep to yarn market gap by paying shepherds a fair price and sustainable price for raw wool, milling it into top quality breed-specific, flock-specific yarn and bringing that yarn to New England yarn shops.
Why Bobolink Yarns?
Bobolinks are a grassland bird that breeds in the open fields of New England. They are notable for their unique, complex song and for being the only songbird in North America with a light back and dark belly.
As more fields grew back to forests and others became monocrop corn, the Bobolink lost habitat and declined in population. They are now restricted to small fields where late haying allows young to fledge and hedgerows provide perches and shelter. We have bobolinks on the home farm, as well as several other threatened species that seek small fields with trees and bushes interspersed. Check out the Bobolink Project to learn more about this precious species.
Katie Sullivan and Matt Wimmer raise sheep at Cloverworks Farm in Irasburg, Vermont. After successfully producing and marketing yarn from their own flock for several years, they decided to use their passion for local yarn to improve wool markets and yarn store viability in Vermont.
What People Say
Classic yarn for projects that will look good for years to comeDonna Druchunas, Sheep to Shawl
We are excited to see our wool spun into something special!Sean and Annie, Scuttleship Farm
Real yarn from real sheep – I appreciate the local, ecologically-grown wool that makes this yarn unique.Judy S., Customer