Herders to Home 2020: Luxury Mongolian Yarn and Fiber

Created by Jon Hetts

From herders to home, our yarns are made with exotic fibers from nomadic, free-range animals on the remote Mongolian plains.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

All the yarn is out, still skiening and packing!
5 days ago – Thu, Oct 15, 2020 at 10:39:39 PM

Hey everybody,

Definitely time for an update and some pictures! Everything is done with spinning, but we're still in the process of skeining and labeling everything. 


Shipping

As for shipping, it looks like it's going to be sometime around the first week in November for it to get out of Mongolia. The last flight out of Mongolia this month for DHL is on the 20th, and with the prep work and export forms needed, we're not going to be able to make that flight. Since borders are still closed, the schedule for charter flights comes in at the end of each month, so I can't say yet exactly when it goes out, but hoping to be on the first or second flight. They usually have one every couple of days, so shouldn't be much of a delay. Still hoping to get everything on it's way to you guys by the end of November.


Yarn

Now to build up the anticipation a bit more! The fingering weight is all done and skeined up in all of the colors (except the cream cashmere)

First Full Look at the 2020 Lineup!
Labels for the handspun, with the hand-signed card from the spinners
Cashmere Colors (Minus the Cream)
Camel and Yak Colors

The DK hadn't been skeined up yet when I was at the factory, but yanked a skein of the olive green DK. Had to make a small swatch with 3.75mm/5US needles to test everything out. It been a little bit since I've had the pokers out, but the yarn was really fantastic to knit with! Soft, smooth, wasn't twisting up on me or anything.

In general, I think this year we've really hit a sweet spot. The thicknesses all look spot on, the twist seems great, nice and soft, very even... really beautiful! I think the few years of constructive feedback and applying it has gotten us somewhere that I'm really proud of. I don't think I've ever been this anxious to get everything out to everybody!

My Humble Swatch (washed)

Other News

In other news here, I'm in the process of trying to get some 100% recycled cashmere yarn for us in the future. I work part time doing... kind of consulting at one of the larger cashmere factories, and I have hopes/dreams of working with them on a sustainable cashmere project for the future. One of the first steps is to do a cashmere drive where I buy back old cashmere clothes, break them down, and make new yarn again. Talking to the engineers at the factory, we're really not sure if it will work/if the quality will be high enough, but we need 50kg to get things started and see (darn batch minimums!)

To get moving, I posted some flyers and already bought back around 25kg from some of the people that work at the factory. Mainly old, felted items or items that have some holes.

25kg of old cashmere clothes!

Now I need to find a way to get the other 25kg from the general public here, but hopefully I'll have something to show and share from that in the next month or so. Depending on how the yarn comes out, I might make some products from it and do a small Kickstarter to get some funds to do a citywide buyback and take it to the next step.

Also getting some jars together so I can send out some Mongolian honey! I've found a producer with incredible products that I'm partnering with and already registered them with the FDA in the states. I just need to get some jars, some labels, and some testing done here to pass Mongolian customs, then I think I'm good to send a test batch to the states. Might be a stretch, but hoping to have it in the states around the same time we're delivering yarn.

Da bees!

OK, that's about it for me here. As soon as the flight schedule is released for next month and I know when our yarn is going to be shipped out, I'll send out another update. Also, as soon as all of the yarn is skeined, packed, and counted, I'll update my website with a proper inventory count so we can do one more round of add-ons before shipping (hopefully with honey options as well).


THANK YOU! We're almost there! As always, holler with any questions, comments, or concerns.

-Jon

one more of some of the lineup!
A Happy Fella
in the Gobi

Everything going well! Quick note about hats!
27 days ago – Wed, Sep 23, 2020 at 06:16:31 PM

Hey Everybody,

Not a whole lot to report here other than everything is going smoothly, but it's been a bit of radio silence so wanted to touch base and share a couple pics anyways. Everything still looking on schedule to be ready to ship middle-ish of October. Hopefully if things don't have to sit too long before finding a flight out of here and we can still have stuff being sent out by the end of November. 

The plan for this year is to fly everything to Korea, then put it on a boat to LA, where I'll use a warehouse for distribution. Without me being able to go home (borders still closed here in Mongolia) it's better to have it done somewhere then toss it all at my parents! Although the boat will take a bit longer (3 weeks or so) the distribution center will get everything out in a day or two, so we pick up time there!

Some progress shots! I dropped off this years labels at the factory on Monday, so everything is ready for the final skeining, labeling, and bagging. Some colors are still being hanked first. I will say, the yarn looks and feels GREAT in person. Compared to last year, we reduced the twist a tiny bit, and I think that made all the difference in adding some extra softness and squish to the hand.

Hanked up, ready to be skeined!
Baby Camel Skeins!
Our lovely baby yak knitted pieces!

Hats!

So a note about the hats here. I actually returned the samples that I used for picture taking, so I can't really compare *exactly* what was in the pictures and the hats that I received. I will say this though, the hats that were made are quite big and heavy. 

Unless you're doing some serious mountaineering or live in a *really* cold climate, you probably aren't going to get a ton of use from it. Due to the added length, it really has to be pulled down pretty far on your forehead for it to not look silly. With the thickness, you'll be sweating through it if it's not -20.I personally wouldn't really use it for casual wear. 

Here's some pics...  the light brown is what I was more expecting (a favorite hat of mine), the dark brown is what was made.

Normal, casual beanie!
Thick brim, low on forehead
The extra couple inches makes a big difference ;)

So what I'm going to do is have a production run of the hats made in the light brown size and use those as the standard in the orders. These are better for a versatile use in cool weather, or to double it up and pull it down when it gets cold. Perfect for 95% of us. I'll have the other hats up on my website as a mountaineering, hunting, or cold weather special hat. 

If you were planning for special extreme weather use for your hat or want the extra heavy hat anyways, let me know in the comments or a message and I'll make sure you get the heavy hat! Otherwise, I'm going to send the size I would be happiest with and what I think most people expect from a hat.

A little more complicated than it needs to be for hats, I know, but this is literally the type of stuff I lose sleep over. Other than the size, they are absolutely wonderful. I even found out that all of the hats and scarves are actually handloomed and the gloves hand embroidered, so even more good news on that end.


Other than that, all's good here! Had a bit of a "character building" trip to the countryside the other week, but got some great quality time with some camels. The herder we visited is a part of Green Gold, the cooperative we get our camel wool from, so maybe some of our yarn is from some of these beautiful critters. Maybe in the future we'll have tracking down a bit better to have a definite answer.

Camels in the Gobi at Sunset

As always, holler with any questions, comments, or concerns! I'll be in touch in the next week to two to lock addresses for delivery and get everything nailed down before leaving Mongolia.

THANK YOU!

-Jon

Revision to Locking Orders and Charging Cards
about 2 months ago – Wed, Sep 02, 2020 at 07:58:43 PM

Sorry guys, a little bit of a misunderstanding on my end, but I'm not able to charge cards without first locking orders on Backerkit. So, I'm going to initiate the locking process this evening my time, and that will give everybody a few days to make final changes to add-ons, colors, weights, etc. You will all get an email notification about this as well from Backerkit, linking back to your survey.

After everything is locked, cards will be charged beginning of next week. Emails will go out before cards are charged with a link to change payment info if needed as well. Sorry for the confusion here!

After orders are locked and charges are made, you'll still be able to add-on or change colors if needed, but it would have to be done through me personally.

Hope that makes sense! Holler if you have any questions.

Thank you!

Jon

Just let me cuddle :(

We've received the rest of our fiber! Also Backerkit Locking and Card Charging Info
about 2 months ago – Mon, Aug 31, 2020 at 09:51:09 PM

Hey everybody!

I feel like we're officially through the crux of the campaign now that we've received the rest of the fiber! It's all lovely, soft, and ready to be made into beautiful things. I think we pretty much got the rest of the grey baby yak fiber in the country as well, so thankfully all of that worked out well. I was sweating a bit when the delivery got pushed back a few times, but all in the clear!

The Rest of Our Grey!
Dark Chocolate Yak
Milk Chocolate Yak

Here's also some looks at the different yarn weights. I think third time is a charm and we have properly weighted yarns! They really do look beautiful up close

Fingering and DK Copper Camel
Lace Copper Camel

Some more videos of the processing, making our charcoal gray. Starting off with the mixed cream and black, then it gets carded and mixed all while going through the machine. A long clip, but too cool not to share!

Here's our green, ready to get twisted and plied:

It's definitely got some depth to it!

Beautiful Blue:

So that's about the updating there is as far as the yarn goes. All of the items (hats, scarves, and gloves) are in the finishing processes and I'll have pictures of those in the next update. The handspun is also on its way and will be ready soon. Talking the factory manager today, we're looking at around mid-October for everything to be skiened, labeled, and ready to ship. As long as things don't get too goofy with shipping to the states, we should still be looking right on schedule.

For Backerkit, orders are going to be locked for spinning fiber on the 3rd, but leave the yarn and other items open for add-ons up until shipping. Almost all of the fiber not earmarked for the fiber bags has already gone into the yarn, so that's going to be limited and don't want to over extend.

For orders on Backerkit, I'm going to charge cards on September 3rd. If you'd like to get back to your survey to make edits, please follow this link:  https://herderstohome2020.backerkit.com/ 

After cards are charged, you'll still be able to add more items, swap colors, etc. up until the final prep for shipping in Mongolia where exact counts will be needed. That will probably be in about a month.

That's about it for me! I'll post again in a few weeks when the spinning is done and we're all into the skeining and labeling work. As always, feel free to holler with any questions!

Thank you!

Jon

View from a Bee Farm!
A baby camel telling me about it!

Things are spinning and some yak wool is coming!
about 2 months ago – Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 12:40:18 AM

Hey everybody!

A bit of an update to share. I got some of the extra grey yak wool, so there are pics! Still waiting on our original order of yak, which is going as expected. By our contract we were planning for middle of next month, but hoping for end of this week or middle of next week. There's a bit of a backup at the moment for yak wool processing, so things have gotten pushed back a couple of times. Today we got 55kg, and around the end of the week I'll get another 85kg. With the originally planned yak wool order, we'll get 50kg of the gray and all the browns as well.

Trips to the factory for fiber delivery also mean pics of yarn process! Camel and crimson cashmere are in different states of production at the moment, so got some cool stuff to show. The copper camel also looked exactly like what I was hoping for in yarn form. It definitely picked up some depth and some of the rustic/natural color look I was hoping for. I'm still having a really hard to get great pictures in the factory lighting to show the color exactly though! The plying video coming up might show it best.

For those interested in the production process, here's some of our cashmere after going through the carding machine. Here is just together in bands without any twist, waiting to be twisted into single ply.

Crimson Cashmere

After the single plys get made, they come here to get combined either for 2ply (lace) 3 ply (fingering) or 6 ply (DK). The copper camel getting in on some work here!

Finally, the plys are twisted and balanced together here to get the final weighted yarn.

The twisting racks!
Making some DK!

After this process, they will make the hanks, and then twist them into skeins. Not quite there yet, but that's where it's going! Everything so far is definitely on schedule, so as long as there are no substantial delays in the yak wool, we're looking good. Even if the yak doesn't come for a few weeks, there's enough work with all the different cashmere colors that we're not losing time.

I still want to wait until I have pictures out of the brown yak fibers to lock orders and charge cards on Backerkit, so hopefully the end of next week will be enough time for that. I'll post another update with pics and a reminder for everything!

That's about it for me... but I think I'm starting to run out of animal pics! I'm waiting on some audio equipment from the states, then I think I'm going to hit the countryside a bit. Until then, sorry if some of these are repeats. I should also do a better job of remembering what I post!

If you need to get back into your survey to make corrections, you can follow this link to get it sent to you.

As always, holler with any questions, comments, or concerns!

THANK YOU!

-Jon

A smiling face from the winter
Stud bull from last year's yak fest! Unfortunately no Yak Fest this year :(