We came across Love Fest Fibers at November’s West Coast Craft event and have been following along with them ever since. It’s an independent company based in San Francisco that creates yarns from 100% alpaca and merino wool, using materials such as recycled plastic bottle fiber and fashion industry remnants.
Their incredible products and commitment to collaborating with artisans from Washington State, Nepal and New Zealand are right in our wheelhouse. We’re also very taken with their stunning branding, developed by Menta, a brand identity and illustration studio founded by Laura Méndez in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Founder, Britt-Marie Alm was taught to knit and crochet by her mother. She describes her knitting sessions with her as “a little love fest of making things and listening to family stories.” Time went by and she forgot these skills until she moved to the Himalayas, where she worked with farmers and nomads on the Tibetan Plateau. Knitting with locals became a way to connect, learn the language and understand the ins-and-outs of raising and spinning fiber.
Eventually Britt returned home to California, where she continued to focus on international development and philanthropy, and researching fiber traditions. She became obsessed with big, fluffy, chunky yarn, which led her to strike up partnerships with talented yarn makers both at home and abroad to design a range of huge yarn.
“I wanted to focus on yarn that supports traditional livelihoods through the raising of natural fibers, and also find a use for something that now litters our landscapes throughout the world: plastic waste.”
Britt’s dedication to artisans and the environment is commendable and she doesn’t skimp on style, which are three things we applaud. To learn more, read below…
What is the story behind Love Fest Fibers?
Britt: Growing up, my family used to dress my siblings and I in the most beautiful, hand knit clothes. My mother, who had grown up in Germany making a lot of her own clothing, would sit and patiently teach me to knit. Each session of sitting with her was a little love fest of creating things and listening to stories.
Sadly I forgot those skills as I got older, until I moved to Asia. Following a fascination with the Himalayas, I went to live and work on the Tibetan Plateau. Sitting with new friends (mostly gorgeous, wise old women) as they knit became a way to learn language and understand all that goes into raising and spinning fiber. Eventually returning to San Francisco, I continued my focus on international development and philanthropy while at the same time researching fiber traditions locally.
I then got completely infatuated with finding the thickest, most opulent yarn out there. I struck up partnerships with wonderful yarn makers both at home and the Himalayas to design a range of huge yarn. I wanted to focus on yarn that supports traditional livelihoods through the raising of natural fibers, while also finding a use for something that now litters our landscapes throughout the world: plastic waste. You'll find that many of our yarns blend time-tested techniques with recycled materials. We're all about sharing interesting yarn and the process behind making them.
Where is the yarn sourced and processed?
Britt: We currently have two distinct styles of super chunky yarn, the first is West Coast local and the second is made in the Himalayas.
We partner with a family-run mill in Washington State to spin our Pure Love and ReLove yarn range. They raise their own Huacaya alpaca in a meadow steps away from the mill where our yarn is spun. Each carefully crafted bump of Pure Love and ReLove takes 1-2 hours to spin.
Our Tough Love felt yarn line is made from New Zealand wool that is hand-felted by women at our partner workshop in Nepal. A single 50-yard ball of Tough Love takes 3-4 hours to create. Our aim with Tough Love is to create consistent income for our team in Kathmandu after the devastating earthquakes of 2015 and the country's ongoing fuel crisis.
Can you briefly describe the types of yarn that are available?
Britt: Our Pure Love Alpaca line is made from 100% family-raised, undyed alpaca fiber and designed to be the softest super bulky yarn imaginable. Cappuccino, our current color option in Pure Love, brings together the full range of natural alpaca colors into a single, variegated skein. We'll be adding new natural colors and styles to the Pure Love collection with each season. And because alpaca is naturally free of lanolin and other oils, many find it to be hypoallergenic and no harsh chemicals are needed to process the fiber.
Our ReLove line is a fresh take on chunky yarn. Each ball of ReLove is made from our own blend of either alpaca or merino and premium US-made recycled plastic bottle fiber. Each 50 yards of ReLove rescues some 10-15 plastic bottles from being landfilled. That means the blanket you knit from 2 bumps of 100-yard ReLove Merino reuses some 60 plastic bottles. Recent figures show that over 90% of the plastics we consume in the US end up in landfills; that is millions of tonnes of plastic that could be put to better use and that's exactly what we're hoping to do!
Our Tough Love line is skillfully hand felted. Using water, soap and muscle power, they transform New Zealand wool into hearty felt yarn. The full line is dyed locally in Kathmandu to create our own range of vibrant colors.
Interview and bio courtesy of Imagiknit and Knit Purl