Going Once, Going Twice...
Clara Yarn is not a traditional yarn company. It is the pop-up retail arm of a larger odyssey to understand what makes yarn tick. Here you'll find purposefully made yarns that tell a story, give great pleasure, and help support the American textiles industry. What you see here will be in very limited supply, and when it's gone, it's gone.
My name is Clara Parkes, and I am passionate about yarn. I believe that when we use wool yarn that's been sourced from good people and happy animals, that's been spun with care and skill, our experience of knitting deepens in a profound way.
In 2000, I founded the first online knitting magazine, Knitter's Review, with the hopes of learning everything I could about yarn--what makes a good skein, how you can tell, and who's doing it. Over the years I've reviewed hundreds of yarns, taught around the world, been on TV and radio, and written best-selling books on my travels in the knitting world, as well as on yarn, wool, socks, and life. I also have a Craftsy course that teaches you all about yarn.
It's one thing to review someone else's yarn, quite another to try your hand at making it on any large scale. In 2013, I was itching to try. I purchased a 676-pound bale of Saxon Merino wool from New York farmer Eugene Wyatt. Joined by some 750 other intrepid adventurers, I embarked upon a 12-month crash course in yarn making called The Great White Bale. We traveled across the country, from a mule in Maine to madder dyepots in California, from scrap equipment in Wisconsin to a not-so-shiny new scouring train in Texas. We visited facilities big and small, learning what it takes to make yarn well, and who's still doing it in this country.
It became clear that the domestic textiles infrastructure is desperately in need of our support. More than in need, it deserves our support. I use the word "domestic" loosely because many countries with once-thriving textiles infrastructures are now struggling and deserve of our attention.
As we care about what we're putting in our bodies, so must we begin to think about what we put on them. Where it came from, how it came to us, and who it touched along the way.
By the time the Great White Bale had concluded, I'd caught the yarn-making bug. What a thrill to connect with good people, to say "I'll take it," to see the relief in their faces as they know their flock will be viable for another year.
I'm intrigued by the challenge of being a responsible shepherd to these fibers, from scouring to spinning and skeining, identifying the very best people and processes for each special batch.
I want you to have the experience of touching, using, wearing yarns that are truly worth knitting.
Over the years, I have been helped greatly by three invaluable people who put the "we" in Clara Yarn. Clare Potter directs operations, deftly nurturing each link in the production chain to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. The unflappable Adi Kehoe oversaw everything that happened to our yarn once it reached us, from tagging to inventory to shipping the skeins to you. And Jane Cochran filled the most vital role of Director of Customer Happiness, cheerfully answering your questions about our yarns, your account, and your orders.
Together, we've been extremely proud of what we've produced and the people, places, and infrastructures our yarn supported.
* The image at the top of this page was taken in Iceland by Ólafur Kr. Ólafsson.