After the 'made in China' Ralph Lauren debaucle of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, all knitwear apparel for the 2014 Winter Games of the Sochi Olympics is American-made. The Polo sweater worn in the closing ceremony, February 23rd, stars Shepherd's Wool yarn from Stonehedge Fiber Mill in East Jordan, Michigan. Midland Daily News reports that Deb and Chuck McDermott's sheep farm and mill was chosen to supply 400,000 yards (4,000 pounds) of merino wool knitting yarn for the closing ceremony turtleneck fair isle sweater.
Operating since 1998, the fiber mill is the uniquely creative venture of a former General Motors automotive employee and his knitting wife. The 1860's era farm, 55 acres in all, includes their 1864 log cabin home, a flock of 60 sheep, and Deb McDermott's yarn shop. The fiber mill uses machinery designed and developed by husband, Chuck, who at 70 years of age, also sells his fiber mill equipment around the country.
According to the Daily News article, the ball started rolling in the summer of 2012 when a passing motorist caught sight of Stonehedge Fiber Mill's road sign, stopped and took a tour of the mill, then bought a skein of the soft merino wool. The tourist just happened to be employed by Ralph Lauren in New York City. After months of communication and yarn shipments, the final contract was made January 2013. Burlington Industries of North Carolina dyed all the eight colors for the fair isle sweater and Ball of Cotton machine-knit the turtlenecks in California. A limited number of sweaters are selling for $395.00 on the Team USA Ralph Lauren web site.
Make no mistake, that 4,000 pounds of merino wool didn't just come from the McDermott's flock,
"To make their Shepherd’s Wool yarn, they routinely buy from a 'wool pool' at Burlington Industries in North Carolina, which sources from sheep all over the U.S."
Deb calls her Shepherd's Wool worsted yarn "next to the skin soft" as do many knitters who know and love Shepherd's Wool available in a vast array of 59 colors online and country-wide in many yarn shops. Shepherd's Wool Yarn can be purchased online at Stonehedgefibermill.com or at a yarn shop near you.