Lost Coast Yarn
As you know, we love where we live. You might remember the blog post I wrote back in January, when I talked about all of the awesome things to see and do in our coastal, mountainous, forested county. The grand beauty that surrounds us is so sublime, that it can be an extreme challenge to capture- even for the most poetic wordsmiths and the most expressive artists. That is, however, unless you're Amanda- the fiber artist and proprietor of Lost Coast Yarn.
Lost Coast Yarn began as a passion, but it filled a need. The fiber artists of Humboldt County, as well as the tourists that visit, needed a local yarn that embodied the spirit of our home. Lost Coast Yarn not only embodies the spirit, but it is saturated in it. This yarn is as unique and beautiful as the county it celebrates.
Fun fact: the city of San Francisco alone has over 700,000 more people than our entirecounty! Small, local, and family businesses play a very large role in our rural and semi-rural communities. As a business run out of a residence in a town with only a little over 300 people- supporting Lost Coast Yarn makes a larger difference in our local economy than you may immediately think.
Like all yarn, it begins with the raw materials. You can assume that in a small town like Petrolia- everyone knows everyone. Luckily, Amanda knows the owner the Valley View Ranch, which has been family run for the past 50 years. The sheep bred and raised (with all-organic practices) at the Valley View Ranch are intended for meat, and typically their wool has been an afterthought which is usually sold to a company that processes it to be used for things such as mattress stuffing. Nonetheless, when it's shearing time- Amanda is at the ranch helping out and getting the first pick for the fleeces before they're shipped out. Not only does she hand select the wool fleeces, but she also hand picks the alpaca fleeces from a locally owned ranch in McKinleyville. You can officially say that each and every fiber in Lost Coast Yarns is from Humboldt County.
When it is time to collect dye materials, Amanda puts out a request to her friends, family, and neighbors. From her expression as she told us her story, it seems as though her call to action worked- because it sounds like she has enough scotchbroom and black walnut hulls for a lifetime. Admittedly, not all of the dye materials used are local- but she took care to ensure that they are all natural and all fair-trade sourced.... Even if they're not from the county, they still blend in with the all-natural Humboldt vibe just fine.
Since Lost Coast Yarn is such a small production (even though I'm sure the amount of work put into it feels far from "small"), we are the exclusive retailer. Last Friday, Amanda dropped off all of her Fingering weight.... So, essentially, what we have is what there is. Once we sell out of a color- that's it, folks! And, I'll be honest, the yarn started selling before we even took them out of the box that Amanda delivered them in. As I write this, a few colorways are already running low in stock. Did we expect any less? Nope. As we went through each color we were repeatedly crooning "ooooh, ahhhhh" and we were proclaiming each one as our new favorite. I'll break down the dyes for you (from left to right in the images below): The color named Humboldt Rain is dyed with Chestnuts, the color Walnut is the Black Walnut Hulls, Grass-Fed Butter is dyed with Scotchbroom (which is an incredibly invasive non-native plant. Hooray for someone putting it to good use!!),River is dyed with both Scotchbroom and Indigo, Pacific Blue is dyed with indigo,Raspberry Sorbet's bright color is from Cochineal, and Sunrise and Cayenne are both dyed with Madder. The Natural color is all thanks to the sheep's beautiful lustrous wool- it has only been washed!
Beyond being a master hand-dyer, Amanda is also quite the photographer. The gorgeous images of the Petrolia landscape are all from her (there's more below because they are beautiful and I couldn't choose which to leave out!). I want to send her a big "THANK YOU". Not only for allowing me to use her photographs, but also because she has provided us with a quality option for shopping local, and, above everything else- she has given us all another way to rejoice in everything our county has to offer.