From sheep farm to spinning mill: we are proud to carry on the tradition of making quality yarns with attention to detail every step along the way.
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The story of Brown Sheep Company begins with a family farm in the North Platte River valley. E.W. Brown purchased the farmland that has remained in the family for over 100 years and counting. Mr. Brown raised a small flock of sheep on the farm, which he passed down to his son, Harlan Brown.
Harlan Brown continued raising sheep and farming until the mid-1970s, when farming prices were low and markets for lamb were diminishing. Harlan decided to take a leap of faith and after several years of research, he decided to switch gears and learn to process wool into yarn.
January of 1980 saw the arrival of the first truckloads of used spinning equipment, purchased from the Southeast where many textile mills were closing at that time. Of course, the machinery came without any operational manuals. By July 4th, Farmer Brown had spun his first ball of yarn.
Peggy & Robert Wells
Some of the first major customers of Brown Sheep Company yarn were traditional Navajo weavers in the Southwestern US—many of the trading posts in that region remain long-standing customers. Yarn shops nationwide began to stock their shelves with Brown Sheep yarn as the company continued to grow and expand, shipping yarn across the country and abroad.
By the late 1990s, Harlan’s daughter Peggy Jo and her husband Robert Wells joined the growing company. This new generation took the mill to the next level, advancing the technology used and updating the equipment. By the early 2000s, the majority of the original used machinery had been replaced by new, state-of-the-art textile equipment. Robert’s background in research enabled him to develop an environmentally-friendly system for recycling the mill’s dye water, putting Brown Sheep Company on the map in a whole new way.
Andrew, Walter, & Brittany Wells
Brown Sheep Company has become one of the most well-known and loved yarn brands across the U.S. among knitters, crocheters, and crafters of all kinds. Although Brown Sheep Company no longer raises sheep on the family farm, they are proud to support U.S. wool growers and purchase the majority of their wool from Colorado and Wyoming.
Most recently, Robert and Peggy Jo’s son, Andrew, and his wife Brittany came on board in 2015. Much has changed since the mill first opened its doors, but the family’s passion and dedication to Harlan’s dream remains the same.
Against all odds, it turns out that wool yarn can be made in the middle of rural America – and catch global attention for its highly sought-after products.
Looking to the future, Brown Sheep Company will continue to innovate, adapt, and develop new products that resonate with the next generation of knitters and handcrafters.