Homegrown Sheep Wool Shorn & Dyed Just in Time for 'Sweater Weather'

Hunting & Gathering

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY SEP 25, 2020

If you ever wondered what exists one hour inland off FL-72 E, you’ll find idyllic farmland and some friendly faces many Sarasota Farmers Market regulars may recognize as the Clarkson family. You’ll also find out there in the grassy knoll Florida Cracker Sheep. At Grove Ladder Farm, the sheep are shorn once a year and the fleece is washed and combed by the shearer. “Once it is returned to us, I spin it on my spinning wheel and kettle dye it by hand—it is 100% wool!,” says Chelsea Clarkson, co-owner of Grove Ladder with husband Tim Clarkson. “My part of the process is pretty quick, however, it did take several months to get the wool returned to us.”

Recently back from the shearer, the homegrown and shorn Florida Cracker wool was added to Grove Ladder's online shop this week. The yarn is sold in 200-yard skeins of sport weight yarn in 10 different dyed colorways for $35 each. Ideal for hand-knitting small projects such as hats, socks and scarves, a dedicated knitter could always purchase more skeins and knit a sweater. "I will honestly be surprised if it doesn't sell out based on the amount of contact we are getting!” says Chelsea. “However I still have plenty of wool to spin and will continue to update the website as I finish each skein of yarn.”

For avid knitters, crocheters and DIYers alike, know the yarn has been kettle-dyed by hand in the Clarkson's cabin kitchen using non-hazardous, non-Chrone dye, made by Greener Shades. "Each skein is one-of-a-kind and sold with character with its own unique perfections and imperfections." Also unique, are the names of each colorway the Clarkson's hard some fun coming up with. “Rather than calling it Red, for example, it's called 'Sriacha Sauce'," says Chelsea. Instead of Purple, make it rain and add 'The Artist Formerly Known as Prince' to your cart, along with 'Autumn Equinox,' 'Meatloaf' and 'Elizabeth the First.' Like most art yarn sold, the yarn comes loosely coiled and knotted upon purchase, and must be wound into a ball before knitting or crocheting your new fall beanie.  

Shop Grove Ladder Yarn here. 

Photo courtesy of Grove Ladder Farm, groveladderfarm@gmail.com; 941-928-5891

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