You’ve heard me say it, tweet it, & pin it before, “If I could only knit with one yarn the rest of my life, organic Green Sheep Cotton Bamboo hand-dyed by Kelly from The Unique Sheep is on the short list!” So it is with pleasurable yarn-loving bias that I bring you today’s interview with Kelly & Laura from The Unique Sheep and reveal the next Solar Flare MKAL prize.
1. After perusing your website I discovered that environmental impact is an important to you. You highlight the following areas in which you strive to be eco:
- Re-use water multiple times in our dyeing process
- Use recycled boxes and bags to pack and ship our yarn whenever possible
- Use recycled paper for printing our patterns, ball bands, and other paper work when we can
- Conserve energy by winding our yarns by hand and drying them in the open air
- Offer an organic line of yarns, The Green Sheep Collection
- Additionally, the dyes we use are the most environmentally responsible option as well as safe for us to work with and for you and your loved ones to knit with and wear.
- Donate at least 5% of our net profit to charities. We have created colorways inspired by each of these [Doctors without Borders and the Amani Children’s Foundation, Carolina Tiger Rescue, Breast Cancer Research, Animal Rescue, and more] organizations; 50% of our sales of these colorways are donated to the organizations!
- We discontinued this treatment [moth proofing] in late 2008 in an effort to make our products more eco-friendly.” We now use a blend of essential oils when rinsing our yarns. These oils are know to repel fiber loving vermin. We will use plain water for rinses if the customer would rather we not use these scented essential oils.
What promoted you towards incorporating eco practices in the Unique Sheep?
Both of us are very close to the natural world- we love to garden and spend time outside and care greatly for animal welfare. Its only “natural” that our personal concerns would bleed over into our business policies!
In addition, most of our eco-friendly practices not only help save our environment, but also save us money so we are able to keep prices as low as possible for our customers.
2. I absolutely LOVED the Green Sheep Cotton! (Yep, it’s on my “if I could only knit with 1 yarn the rest of my life” short list.) Would you tell us more about the Green Sheep line? What are the eco aspects of the Green Sheep yarn bases that led you to offering it?
We like to offer yarns that we think our customers would enjoy handling and wearing, and if we can encourage them to use organic based yarns, all the better. The cotton bamboo has a nice sheen, makes a very soft and drapey fabric and takes our cotton dyes nicely. The Green Sheep wool yarns take dyes a little more on the subtle side, but the super fine organic Merino is also super soft so it feels great when worn against the skin. All of the yarns in our Green Sheep line are made with as much organically grown and processed fibers as possible.
3. Your colors are absolutely stunning. What inspires you and how do you convert inspiration into a color scheme?
We get our inspiration from EVERYWHERE. Some of our clubs are theme based, so we try to think of colors that fit each theme. Many times our customers ask for a certain combination of colors, and we do our best to dye the yarn to match the customer’s vision, or at least to come as close as we can to matching it!
4. Would you walk us through the Solar Flare color creation?
That was an easy one! Lindsay asked for a Fiery/Sun color way, so we started with Torch Song (which was also originally a customer requested color). Kelly took out the purple and ended with the red instead.
5. How did you Laura & Kelly meet and decide to join forces?
That is a long story, but the short of it is that Kelly was ready to expand her previous line of hand dyed yarns (originally Liisu Yarns), but needed help, so she found Laura on Ravelry and contacted her. Luckily Laura’s skills complimented Kelly’s so we decided that joining would be a great thing for both of our businesses. Here we are 7 years later, so we must have made the right decisions!
6. I know you have a picture book out, The Story of the Unique Sheep, so without spoiling the ending, please tell us briefly how you came up with such a creative business name?
The business name came about a long time ago long before Laura actually had a sheep farm. But now she does have her dream farm and has filled it with Shetland sheep. Her mother–in–law, Dianne Lough, is a watercolor artist and when she comes to visit the farm is always inspired by the animals and natural beauty on the farm. She began to imagine, what if the Unique Sheep logo was a sheep on the farm. What would its personality be like? What is the story of how it became so colorful? The Story of the Unique Sheep is the answer to those questions!
7. Puddles species to species question: is there a Unique Sheep? If so, what is his or her name? And who does he or she live with? And do you spin your own yarn from his or her fleece?
Puddle needs a copy of the book! The Unique Sheep’s name is Elizabeth and she is one of the matriarchs of Laura’s flock. Up until recently the flock has been so small that each year’s shearing (they are shorn once a year in the spring) produces so little wool that it all gets spun and used by Laura and her family. The flock has grown a lot over the last year or two, though, and last year we finally had enough to mill process it into roving and yarn! We will be shearing the flock over the next couple of weeks and most of this year’s wool will also be mill processed into yarn. Once it is done, it will be available as a special limited edition Fresh from the Farm club shipment! You can follow the process of shearing and other activity on the farm on Elizabeth’s Blog: http://thestoryoftheuniquesheep.com/blog/
*Aside from Puddles’ human: Puddles thoroughly enjoyed having the charming story read to him! The illustrations are captivating and the book is great for yarn lovers of all ages. Get your copy today in print or online.”
::drum roll please:: The second Solar Flare prize announcement is:
Yarn from The Unique Sheep
Thanks Laura & Kelly!!!!