Quality Merino Wool from Provence Tricote Moi un Mouton
Merino Wool in Provence
Tricote Moi Un Mouton is a producer of premium merino wool in the Luberon. Located near Apt in the Luberon Valley, Emilien et Emilie Bonnet raise a herd of some 500 sheep. Their farming operation includes a breed called the mérinos d’Arles chosen for their high-quality wool and tender meat. Emilien Bonnet began the farming operation in 2005. He quickly settled on the mérinos d’Arles as these sturdy animals adapt quickly to their natural environment and extensive breeding.
Originating from southwestern France, the mérino d’Arles is an ancient breed of sheep from the 18th century. At the request of Louis XVI, a group of prized Spanish merino rams were exported to France and crossed with a local sheep variety from the Camargue. The National Bergerie in Ramboulliet managed the original reproduction program in 1786. In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte established the Bergerie Impériale d’Arles. This sheep variety has further evolved through research and breeding programs. Well-suited to the pastoral conditions and the seasonal temperatures in Provence, the mérino d’Arles population is roughly 150,000 animals down from a high of 300,000.
Relatively small in size the ewes are 50-55 kg and the rams roughly 80-85 kg. Covered entirely in a fine, wavy white wool, and it is possible to gather 5 kg of wool from a sheared male. The mérino d’Arles as initially bred to produce yarn, but today with synthetic textiles the woollen market is weak. Farmers in Provence primarily raise the lambs for their meat, with wool providing an incremental income stream.
Merino wool production at Tricote Moi Un Mouton begins in the spring with sheep shearing. Animals 18 months and older are sheared, before this age, the lamb’s wool is soft but too short. When shearing and sorting wool, one of the selection criteria is the wick length, it must be at least six (6) centimetres long.
The wool is washed, combed and spun in Biella, Italy. Then the Filature Fonty, a manufacturer in the Creuse in central France, twists the fine merino thread into skeins, dyes the wool and creates the balls for knitters.
Buy Merino Wool from Provence
Online: Tricote Moi Un Mouton kits (include wool, pattern and needles) or individual woollen balls are available for sale on the website.
In person (make an appointment):
Emilien et Emilie Bonnet
Tel: +33 (0)4 90 74 03 99
For more information on their animal husbandry click here.
Image credits: All photos provided by and published with the permission of Emilien et Emilie Bonnet