episode thirteen: custom woolen mills

welcome to the thirteenth episode of from field to skin! we’re kicking off the second forage collection with custom woolen mills as we focus this year on alberta’s fibreshed. i'm hoping to dig a little deeper into different fibresheds by profiling multiple players within them and use their fibres for an accompanying design collection. i had the privilege of visiting alberta in march and july of this year and interviewed alberta yarn project, custom woolen mills, megan samms of live textiles, and tin forest farm all on location. our opening episode was filmed on location in july 2019 on treaty seven territory.

custom woolen mills is an incredibly important part of the canadian fibreshed, and in particular for the western part of the country. one of three remaining functioning historical mills in canada, custom processes yarn both for their own store and for many farmers to sell direct to consumers. they also make bedding, wall insulation, and socks, and work with other fibre artisans using both their wool and their rural space (like through their residency program). their particular equipment, all from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s, creates a different kind of yarn than the newer equipment popping up around the country and the world, and maintains both traditions and important skills that would otherwise be lost to rust in forgotten fields. custom happens to be the source of several of my own yarn bases, so being able to see the processing in action was an extra treat for me.

you can purchase forage: volume 2 on ravelry here.

following this year’s forage collection, interviews will be going on hiatus until the new year and after i have secured funding (stayed tuned next month for news about how you can be a part of that!). if you would like to support future episodes, including ensuring the continuation of in-person interviews, please visit our support page!

mentioned in this episode: ilya oratovsky; old strathcona farmers’ market

ash albergmill