Backyard Fibers is an independent, family-owned company in Chicago, Illinois. We offer luxurious, responsibly sourced wool yarn, grown in the USA, processed by small U.S. mills, and hand-dyed in our home studio.
As handcrafters, we developed a passion for soft, gorgeous yarns in colors ranging from subtle to bold and everything in between. We began coloring small amounts of undyed wool and fell in love with the process. So we built a home studio and launched Backyard Fibers, intending to develop our own products from American wool bought on the wholesale market. We quickly discovered, however, that almost all undyed wool we found was actually imported. To obtain the type of product we wanted, we decided to source it ourselves. That’s why Backyard Fibers can assure customers that we know the history of every skein they buy.
Each Batch Has a Backstory
We source our own wool from U.S. farmers who practice sustainable methods. They pasture their sheep on organic and/or sustainable farmlands and tend them with care. We do not purchase wool from large factory farms, those that use GMO feed, or use unethical shearing practices. We buy wool fleeces directly from U.S. farmers we have met in person and whose farms we have visited. We also know the millers who process and spin our wool. We are proud to have become part of this community, supporting the American farmer and small, family-owned companies. It is their work that is woven into the history of each unique batch of yarn we offer.
No Harsh Chemical Processing
We also assure our customers that no harsh chemical treatments or resins are used during the processing of our yarns. This means that although the fleeces are thoroughly skirted and scoured, a small amount of vegetable matter (VM) remains in the finished yarn. This is easily picked out during use. It is also a sign that none of our yarns are superwash, a process that uses chlorine and petroleum-based resins to either erode or coat the wool fibers. Please keep this in mind when washing your swatches and finished objects and treat them with care, handwashing and drying them flat.
Most of our hand-dyed yarns are made using low-water immersion and hand-painting methods, with subsequent steaming, to minimize water use. All steaming is done in reusable wrappings or containers, rather than plastic wrap, which is generally used once and then thrown away.
We use the least amount of dye possible for our colorways, so only a small amount of rinse water is necessary. Water, both for dyeing and rinsing, is reused whenever possible and returned to its normal PH before disposal.
Studio and Business Practices
We utilize USA-made tools and supplies, whenever possible—from storage bins, steaming pots, and glass jars, to towels and plastic bottles. Whether you purchase from us online or at a show, any packaging materials you receive can be recycled or reused. All printed material is produced at a neighborhood, union print shop, utilizing low-impact inks.
We believe that there is a price to pay for cheap, fast fashion, including yarn. Bargain-basement costs require the exploitation of impoverished labor forces around the world, working in unsafe environments. These corporate practices force American workers to compete with workers overseas, resulting in declining wages, and the continued loss of jobs in the United States. By supporting us with your hard-earned dollars, you’ll be providing jobs right here and sending a message to large manufacturers that the American consumer believes we should be investing in the USA.