Our hand-spun organic wool
Our wool starts life on the mountainsides of the Ala Daglar mountains, in south-central Turkey. In this sparsely-populated area, most shepherds still live a semi-nomadic lifestyle, moving between high summer pastures and wintering in the valleys.
In the harsh, snow-bound winters, the shepherds keep their flocks at the edge of their home village. The sheep are corralled together for warmth in simple wood or stone shelters. Lambs are born in early spring. By April, the snows have melted and temperatures risen sufficiently to allow the flocks to begin the annual migration to higher altitudes.
In summertime the sheep graze the open high pastures, often above 2000 metres altitude. At this time the shepherds stay in basic stone shelters owned by no one in particular. There are few mountain springs on the surface, but ancient stone-lined wells allow them to draw water for their flock. Wolves and jackals roam the mountains and frequently attempt to snatch lambs, so each shepherd keeps a couple of Anatolian shepherd dogs, a fierce and strong breed that nonetheless typically wear spiked collars for protection against the wolves' jaws. Around May, the sheep are sheared for their wool - Angora goats are shorn a little earlier.
Sheep wool fibres grow longer and stronger when the sheep are reared in colder temperatures. By migrating to the highlands in summer, the sheep stay cool year-round, producing better quality and longer-lasting wool. This can be seen in the Turkish carpets that are the destination of much of Turkey's hand-spun wool. These carpets maintain or increase their value over time, and it is not unusual for century-old carpets to be in daily family use.
Spinning wool by hand
Hand-spinning of the wool is performed in the villages, always at home, and always by women. Most of the wool is hand-spun in the winter months, when there is little farming work to be done. The wool is spun on traditional spinning wheels. Unlike machine-spun wool, hand-spinning does not break the wool fibres. As a result, hand-spun wool is stronger, and has a longer life, than machine wool.