Origins of Peace Fleece

 

Peter and Marty moved to the small town of Porter, Maine in the foothills of the White Mountains in 1974 as part of the back to the land movement. Marty made pottery, Peter went logging with horses and they both started a small flock of sheep. But living at the end of a dirt road growing their own food, shearing their own sheep and cutting their own firewood did not protect them from the threat of nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States.


So in 1985 Peter went to Moscow with a proposal. If he could find a Russian who would sell him wool, he would buy it, bring it back to Maine, blend it with American wool and make a yarn called Peace Fleece. Central to the creation of Peace Fleece was the belief that if historic enemies could do business together, the potential for conflict between them might be reduced. The Russian and American fiber would be spun together and the hats and sweaters knit from this yarn would affirm that Soviet-American cooperation was possible. “Warm wool from a Cold War” became the Peace Fleece motto.

 

Peace Fleece Barn

The Peace Fleece Staff

The Peace Fleece Staff: Hannah, Peter, Marty, Brenda, Christina and Lauren.

On his first trip that summer Peter met one of the few people in the whole of that country who could make this dream a reality. He was able to buy one bale of Russian wool and have it shipped home. This shipment would be the first Soviet wool to ever legally enter the United States. Peace Fleece found ranchers from Montana and Maine to supply the American wool for the next six years. In the early nineties Peace Fleece expanded its offerings to include fleece from Israel, the West Bank, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Romania,

blending this wool with fleece from Cottage Hill Farm in Ohio and mohair from Texas.  Now 30 years later Peace Fleece continues its commitment to keep communication open when sabers once again rattle.

 

 

 

 

 

Transition from Overseas to USA

In 2008 Peter and Marty’s son Silas was asked to film a horseback ride by Lakota and Dakota Native Americans to commemorate the death by hanging of forty of their ancestors in 1863, the largest mass execution in American history. The effect that the film had on Peter was profound and begged this question. Rather than working overseas, should we not refocus Peace Fleece’s efforts to better understand what we did to our Native Americans?  Might this not be an important step in healing the social and political divisions that plague our country today?


So in 2010 Peace Fleece purchased its first native Rambouillet wool from the Cook Ranch on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Reservation, beginning the journey of learning what happened to these tribes a century and a half ago. The following year Peace Fleece visited the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and New Mexico and met with native ranchers to learn how it might assist them in the production and marketing of their wool.

For three consecutive years it has purchased Reservation fine wool. In 2014 Cottage Hill Farm in Ohio traveled in the Southwest with Navajo ranchers and both groups purchased high quality breeding rams, hopefully providing Peace Fleece with a future generation of ever improving genetics. Today Peace Fleece is spinning skeins that are 25% mohair from Texas and 75% Merino and Rambouillet wool from native and non-native American ranchers.

Navajo Fine Wool Sheep

Navajo fine wool sheep, Tsaile, Arizona

 

The Yarn Journey

The Harrisville Crew

The Harrisville Designs Crew – spinners of Peace Fleece yarn since our inception in 1986

Every spring Peace Fleece partners with several other buyers of wool and mohair to sponsor the Navajo Wool buy. In one week’s time the group sets up in seven different locations on the reservation. Each day is a long one, as upwards of one hundred ranchers arrive to sell their wool. Mid-States Wool Coop, our partner in this venture, then trucks the wool we purchase to Chargeurs, a French owned wool washing company located in Jamestown, South Carolina. It is then dyed by the family owned Littlewood and Sons of Philadelphia, spun in historic Harrisville, N.H. where woolen yarn has been spun since 1794 and then sold from the Peace Fleece farm in rural Maine. The members of this production team have worked diligently over the years to make this yarn better and better.  With distributors throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Japan and now China, the staff hopes that you can enjoy Peace Fleece yarn and knitting accessories wherever you live and invite you to visit them online or even better, in person on the farm in Maine.

 

 

 

 

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