The Briar Patch Story

Thank you for visiting the Briar Patch website.  I’m Janette Osborne and I established Briar Patch in 2006 when I was living on a 12-acre lifestyle (life sentence) block in West Melton just outside Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand.

I am originally from South Otago where I grew up on a 400-acre sheep farm located between Milton and Balclutha.  I have always loved sheep and wool and my mother taught me to knit at an early age and I taught myself to crochet a few years later.
Spring 1968 - My Dad, older brother Richard (with unknown Romney lamb) and me in the pushchair
Spring 1968 Dad Richard and Me_300px

I started Briar Patch after having spent hours knitting a cardigan with wool I had bought as “100% wool” only to suspect and then discover it had a large amount of acrylic mixed into it.   When I flame tested it – it melted into a hot bubble of plastic – I wish I had tried that first before knitting it!

So often we buy yarn and put it aside before deciding what to knit – so it’s really important that you can trust who you buy your yarn from and not discover a problem a couple of years later. 

In 2009, while visiting the boutique Riverdale Fibre Mill in Otorohanga in the Waikato I met Kim.   A year or so later he persuaded me to pack up my life, dog Jack, flock of black sheep and herd of llamas and shift to his family’s 3,000-acre sheep and beef farm in the hills behind Waitomo Caves about an hour and a half south of Hamilton, New Zealand. 

Kim and I Exploring On Farm
Kim and Janette Exploring_small

Over the years Briar Patch has evolved from traceable New Zealand manufactured wool knitting yarn to include other imported natural yarns including hemp, cotton and cashmere from people that we trust.   We are the exclusive New Zealand stockist of the Hemp for Knitting range of knitting yarns that we import from the wonderful Lana Hames in Canada.

The other yarns that you won’t find anywhere else are the super soft 18.5 micron organically grown natural merino from Lammermoor Station and the less soft but machine washable range of 4 and 8 ply Perendale yarn from our own Te Toko Station sheep.

There is also mid-micron soft enough for next to skin natural carded wool from our own sheep for spinning or felting with a limited number of boutique spun skeins also available for those that prefer their wool already spun.

The next stage of the Briar Patch journey is a collaborative one – we have some wonderful people in our local community curating and creating some wonderful natural products from wool knitting and crocheting kits to carved limestone pendants to solid silver jewellery cast from natural seeds and shells. 

Our next step is to bring some of these products onto this website – giving you an opportunity to purchase unique gifts for yourself or loved ones and giving these wonderful curators and makers a wider audience for their talent.

As we bring each new product range on board we will also add information about the wonderful people behind each product on the Meet the Team Page.