North Light Fibers is a Micro Yarn Mill that produces high quality handcrafted minimally processed yarns made 100% on Block Island! The primary lines of yarn range from Water Street (Cashmere/Merino) and Beach Avenue (Alpaca/Merino) to Forever Lace (Alpaca/Bamboo) and Ocean Avenue (a special high twist 100% Merino wool). We are always developing new yarns from exotic fibers such as yak, camel, mohair, qiviut, etc as well as new lines of yarn – please stay tuned for our re-introduction of our line of fingering yarns!
Our goal is to make world-class handcrafted artisanal yarns from exotic fibers and demonstrate that year-round manufacturing can work in a highly seasonal location like Block Island. We love working with fibers and making the yarn 100% on Block Island – from washing and dying to carding, spinning and finishing as well as producing hand knit and handwoven garments and home décor.
North Light Fibers has been highlighted in many publications over the past few years including: Vogue Knitting, Knits, Piecework, Knitters Review, Cast-On, Hand Woven, Shuttle Spin & Dye Pot, Yankee Magazine, Providence Journal, Providence Business News, Block Island Times and many national Blogs and Newsletters.
In order to do this, we have been fortunate to build a great team of folks here at North light Fibers as shown in the photograph below.
In order to make beautiful garments and home decore items, we work very closely with island knitters such as Renate Fitzgerald and organizations such as the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center that is comprised of blind, visually impaired and senior citizen weavers and we work with Udruzene (Women for Women) which is a non-profit organization that helps women in war torn countries such as Bosnia. Most recently, we have begun a fantastic partnership with the Seamen’s Church Institute that helps mariners around the world. These socially responsible organizations are great partners and are philosophically aligned with North Light Fibers’ beliefs and principles.
While our yarns and handwoven/hand knit items are central to our vision, we are also very focused on demonstrating that year round manufacturing can be viable on Block Island. There are approximately 900 residents in the winter with well over 15,000 people in the summer! Given the seasonal nature of the island, the economy is based on summer tourism. Unfortunately, year round employment has been limited to government, education (The Block Island School), construction and service businesses like the grocery store and bank. Now there is manufacturing and the potential to create items on the island that are exported off island for sale. North Light Fibers is working hard to strengthen the foundation and diversity of the island’s economic base.
In order to run North Light Fibers, we had to actually re-write the zoning regulations to establish a permitted use called “light assembly.” In fact, manufacturing or “Light Industry” was not a “permitted use” on the island but after 12 public hearings and a lot of work, we were able to apply for a building permit. Justin Abrams has truly helped our cause as he built and is leasing the mill building here on the farm. Justin, his daughter Rita and so many others have been helping us create commerce on the Block Island – evidence the island’s true character.