In Review: Brown Sheep Company Burly Spun

About a decade ago, my husband, myself, and our infant son took a road trip from our home in Wisconsin out to Colorado. It’s true that many people look at Nebraska — and all the Great Plains states — as somewhere to drive through in order to get somewhere else. That’s just too bad because Nebraska is gorgeous country. Those long views and big sky of the plains states complete with the stunning rolling hills as you move further west have captivated our hearts as much as (or maybe even more!) any mountain range or ocean view. There is something about standing in a sea of grasslands that is… it feels like the essence of freedom.

As I was a new but already avid knitter, I was excited at the prospect of checking out a Brown Sheep Company, a source for American wool. You have to remember, this was before other big name American wool yarn purveyors that we are familiar with today even existed. Back in the early 2000s, the family owned and operated Brown Sheep Company had been making yarn for 20 years and really was the source for American wool yarn for knitters and crocheters. Going to Mitchell to visit the Brown Sheep Company was like a pilgrimage for me. My husband, who is a native of Nebraska, was more than happy to travel the full length of the corn-husker state in order to visit the far western reaches and the home of the Brown Sheep Company.  We were both pretty pleased with the details of this trip, indeed!

The timing of our visit — not to mention the fact that we had along a baby and a dog — made it impractical to do a mill tour, but I did get to visit the outlet shop. Let me tell you — oh, how I would LOVE to go back now knowing so much more than I did back then! In any case, I’d been thinking about that trip out to Western Nebraska recently, so when I received an email inviting me to review their Burly Spun yarn, I jumped. What a great way to reconnect with not just the memories, but also this fantastic yarn!

Burly Spun is a single-ply yarn, spun from 100% USA wool and is available in 31 solid colors as well as 8 hand painted colorways. Brown Sheep Company buys the majority of their wool directly from the growers and employs sustainable practices, too, so you can feel pretty darn good about the wool they produce. I selected a skein of the colorway named Strawberry Patch and Brown Sheep Company generously sent it my way. I knew my daughter was in need of some mittens and this yarn and its super bulky status was just the ticket. As warm as it is fast to knit, Burly Spun is pretty darn phenomenal for mittens to keep our northern tier fingers warm.

I’d originally planned to get them done earlier this month, but all the obligations of December got the better of me. Thankfully I knew once I sat down to it, they would be done in the blink of an eye. Two night ago I cast-on mittens using this Classic Cabled Hat & Mittens pattern on Ravelry.


I started them around 4pm and knit on them throughout the evening. Even with a stop for dinner and multiple trips to chase the new puppy around the backyard, I was done before bedtime. When they call this yarn the “Fastest in the West,” they are not kidding!


Didn’t they turn out great?!


They are bright and soft and oh-so-cozy!


Burly Spun is wonderful for mittens as it keeps your hands warm and dry. Normally I’m wary of knitting a cabled pattern in a handpainted yarn, but I think because of the size of the stitches (13 stitches and 18 rows over 4″ on size 10.5 needles) it just works super well. I got both mittens out of a bit less than 1 skein of yarn — enough that there was no yarn chicken, but not so much that I feel like any bit was wasted. And they might just be the prettiest mittens I’ve made yet!



The only thing that bums me out is that I didn’t get enough to make the matching hat! I suppose with so many pretty colors, maybe I should get enough to make a set for myself in addition to the matching hat for my girl!

I want to thank Brown Sheep Company for providing this yarn and the opportunity to review their beautiful yarn. I truly hope one day that I’ll make it back their way again, but whether I do or not, this certainly will not be the last Brown Sheep Company yarn I work with!


15 thoughts on “In Review: Brown Sheep Company Burly Spun”

  1. I LOVE these, and the cable shows beautifully! The Sproingy Haired Bandit is going to love them too. The variegated pinks are right down her alley, and you definitely need to buy enough for a matching hat, as well as enough for a set for you! Just don’t choose a pink range for yourself or you won’t get to keep them! 😉

  2. Mitchell Nebraska is on my bucket list, I am jealous of you having been there! How does the new yarn compare to the old bulky? Is it more bulky? Those mittens are great, by the way! Lucky bandit! Though no bandit action needed, they were made for her!

    1. I’m not quite sure what you’re asking?! The Burly Spun felt pretty similar to what I remember. I actually think I had picked up some Burly Spun from their seconds bin when I was there, but it had no label so I didn’t realize it until I was knitting it this time!

      I hope you get out there. Western Nebraska is pretty amazing and beautiful. I’m a huge fan of the Great Plains and W. NE is just the cream of the crop!

      1. I have used Lamb’s Pride Bulky, but never heard of Burly. Wondering if they still do both, or are dropping one?

        I have only seen Nebraska from the train, but grew up loving pioneer stories, so do want to get there to see the Nebraska of Bess Streeter Aldrich and Willa Cather. And if there is also yarn, how could it be wrong???

      2. RIGHT?! I love Willa Cather!

        Lamb’s Pride Bulky is Bulky. Burly Spun is a super bulky. It’s fatter and little more dense, maybe even just a smidge felted (that’s my impression anyways).

      3. Thanks for the yarn i fo, I will look for it!

        My grandmother gave me my first Willa Cather novel, Shadows on the Rock when I was about the Sproingy-haired bandit’s age. I loved it and devoured all the books of hers I could find. The other Nebraska stories were found at about that age, Aldrich’s A Lantern in Her Hand, and the sequel, White Bird Flying were very different but wonderful tales of settling a new land.

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