Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Thank you so much for being our customer in 2008. This was The Unique Sheep's first real year in business (we started in 2007 but the first few months don't really count!) and we can't believe how much we have grown. The Unique Sheep started out as a dream so unlikely that I actually filled out all the start-up paperwork without telling anyone about it. I was afraid that if I told anyone about my idea they would point out how unrealistic I was being. A recent college graduate, I thought I could make a living selling...yarn? But I did it anyway and by the time my friends and family realized what was happening I had my business license and was beginning to receive suspiciously large boxes of undyed yarn in the mail! A few months later Kelly approached me with the idea of partnership and, well, as they say, the rest is history. 

In the upcoming year we have a LOT to look forward to. In addition to the Ram Club II and Lord of the Rings Sock Club, both beginning in February, we are continuing our Rubber Ducky cotton club and Color Co-op multi-dyer club (both are always open for new members), and in May the 6 Kingdoms Yarn Club, the follow up to The 7 Deadly Spins, will begin. We've also got a few more club ideas brewing but we'll wait till spring before we reveal anything else!

We are always coming up with new colorways, of course. If you have an idea for a colorway you'd like to see, please let us know. We love to collaborate with our customers!

We will be adding a couple of new yarns this year and they will all be ORGANIC! If you keep up with our blog you know that our environment, and our impact on it, is very important to both of us and so it makes sense for us to include organic yarns in our line up. We haven't finalized all the details yet, but we are thinking about adding a sport weight wool, dk or worsted weight wool, bamboo/cotton blend and possibly a fingering weight wool. We would love to have your input about what is most important to you in a yarn.

We hope that in 2009 we'll have the opportunity to dye for you time and again. Thank you so much for your business. Your purchases allow us to stay in business doing what we love most!

Your Unique Sheep Dyers
Laura & Kelly

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday Slow Down

Like most of you, Kelly and I took some time off this past week to spend time with our families. Because of that, we are a bit behind on our emails and having spent much time dyeing. But now that all the suitcases are put away (well, almost..) and the festitivies are over, we are ready to get back to work. If you sent us an email or an order this week, we promise we haven't forgotten about you. It might just take us a day or two to get caught up! 

Thanks for being patient-- we hope you all had a nice time taking a break too and spending time with your friends and family!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holiday!

From Kelly and Laura

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still need a gift?

Though its too late to order yarn and receive it in time for Christmas, there is still plenty of time left to purchase a gift certificate! We have gift certificates available from $15 to $100. After you check out we will send you an email with the gift certificate "code". Then, to redeem their gift certificate, your loved one simply enters the code when she or he checks out. Because we are busy celebrating this week, too, you might have to wait a few hours for me to get to my computer and email me the code but I promise to check the lap top several times a day, so you won't have to wait long! 

Monday, December 22, 2008


A few posts ago I mentioned that we were trying to decide which non-profits we wanted to donate to this year with our annual "5%" donation. Well, there are so many great organizations out there that we couldn't decide on just one. So we are splitting it up between three very worthy organizations. First is the Entrepreneurship Program at Wake Forest University. We both feel that small businesses are critical to our country. Not only do they employ over half of the workers in our country (and growing!), but they provide more options than if we just had a few big countries. Peopoe who work for small companies are usually passionate about what they do and in touch with their customer base in a way that sometimes isn't possible in larger companies. Small businesses, like ours, are started by entrepreneurs. And Wake Forest's entrepreneurship program educates and supports entrepreneurs. In fact, The Unique Sheep might not even exist if it weren't for the program. They gave me (Laura) my first financing, lots of (free!) classes on all manner of business matters which were completely foreign to me before the program, and the opportunity to give The Unique Sheep a chance. So thats why we chose them as one of our non-profits. 

We continued the education theme by donating to a local Montessori school. Montessori schools provide education to young students using unique and alternative techniques. Unlike regular public schools, they focus on different learning styles and the potential of each child as an individual. Our future rests with today's children, and Montessori schools are one way to prepare them to become tomorrow's leaders. Though the Montessori method isn't for everyone, Kelly has seen how positive it can be in the lives of friends and family. 

Our third non-profit is also related to children-- Victory Junction! This one was recommended by my husband, who has classmates (medical students) who have volunteered and worked there. Victory Junction is a camp for children with chronic medical problems or serious illness and their families. It gives kids the freedom to be a kid and enjoy all the normal camp activities- arts & crafts, horseback riding, swiming, canoing, hiking, etc., tailored to meet their individual needs. Whether a kid is confined  to a wheel chair, needs daily medical treatment or is the "sick kid" in his or her every day life, at Victory Junction camp he or she is just a normal kid. A fully functioning clinic makes daily medical care easy, and if an emergency occurs several world renowned hospitals are nearby. When I was growing up I went to summer camp almost every year and, like most kids, took it all for granted. I spent more time complaining about the food or itching at my mosquito bites than being thankful for being healthy enough and physically able to go to camp. Now that I'm a little older, I can see how fortunate I was. Every kid deserves to be "normal" and have fun getting muddy and sunburnt for at least one week a year! Oh, and everything is completely free for the campers-- their families have enough expenses with all their medical treatment. Donations, like ours, pay for everything.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A New Stole

Ever since I dyed the first set of Gradiance yarn and knitted The Gluttony Socks there has to be at least one project OTN using Gradiance yarn.

My latest FO is the Earth Maiden stole designed by Ilga Leja. The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn but I used Leili, a fingering weight yarn, so extra stitches were added and the pattern was modified by including several more repeats of each of the stitch pattern segments.

I used, Henry, one of the newest colors in the Gradiance collection:

and made sure to alternate colors as we suggest here, so the transition from one skein to the next really is seamless.

The final project came out better than expected!

We will add Henry to our list of Gradiance colors soon, but do let us know if you would like to order a set by putting it in as your color choice when you order from our site.

We do not have the Earth Maiden pattern available on the Unique Sheep site, but of you use Moonshadow, you will get a similar effect as it is also knitted with stitches cast on from end to end, plus you would get the extra enjoyment of knitting with beads!


Monday, December 15, 2008

What I have been crocheting

Our 1st Rubber Ducky Club shipment went out a little over a week ago. Here is what I made from the test skein of yarn.

Frosty(the yarn) was inspired by the famous snowman with the icy blue background, the orange to represent his carrot nose, and the dark teal to represent his hat. The blue in the test skein was a bit darker than the yarn the club members received.

I used the center part of this pattern ,with some major modifications. The final cloth is 10" in diameter and took
less than an ounce of yarn.

We would love to have you join us in the Ducky Club!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Nutcracker

A few weekends ago my husband surprised me with tickets to see the Nutcracker ballet. Growing up my family would often go see the Nutcracker performed by the local art school and I've always had a love for the music, costumes, set, dancers..the whole thing. But this year I noticed something for the first time-- the beautiful colors! The whole evening I couldn't stop thinking about all the COLORS and how great they would look on yarn! So of course as soon as I got home I started experimenting and I ended up with 6 new colorways that I am pleased to introduce to you now. Like all our colors, they can be ordered on any of our yarns or fibers. But, if you'd like a skein of each colorway, you can get a very special deal-- $20 or more off the regular price!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lord of the Rings "Teaser" Sock Patterns

As you know, the Lord of the Rings Sock Club begins in February (sign ups end Jan 1). But because February is still soooo far away, we are very excited to introduce two "teaser" patterns that are available for individual purchase NOW! Because they involve irregular yarn amounts I would highly recommend purchasing the kits (available in child and adult sizes), but the patterns are also available on their own as PDFs or print. Enjoy!

Hobbit Feet
When Laurel, the designer, started thinking about socks based on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy she thought to herself "What socks would Hobbits wear?". Well, as we all know, hobbits don't wear shoes and so they probably don't wear socks either. Their tough hairy feet make it unnecessary. But for us humans with our soft, unprotected soles we need something to keep our toes toasty warm. Hence, the Hobbit Feet pattern. Knit this up for your favorite Lord of the Rings fan- child or adult- and they can pretend to be a hobbit too!

Prancing Pony Socks
For a pair of socks that can be worn under your riding boots, or down to the local tavern, try the Prancing Pony socks! A basic top down sock pattern is livened up with a fun intarsia pony on the side of the leg or the back of the heel. Options are given for boot-high socks, short "ankle" socks, adult sizes and kid sizes. You can make a pair for everyone in the family! The pattern is written for our Tinsel Toes fingering weight Tencel/Merino sock yarn for a bit of silky, shiny elegance. We've been told by many customers that Tinsel Toes makes the most comfortable, hard wearing socks in their collection!

Helllloooooo out there?

Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself on this blog. I know thats not true because I've checked the website statistics and I know you are out there. But when you don't leave me comments, it makes me lonely! More importantly, your feedback is really important. We are always coming up with new ideas for yarn bases, colorways, clubs, patterns, etc. But without your feedback is hard for us to know if they are good ideas or not. The reason we are in business is for you all- our customers. So help us out by letting us know what you like. Really-- we want to know! 

To encourage a bit more dialogue every so often (maybe once a week-- we'll see how it goes) I am going to randomly choose someone who has left a comment and send that person a little gift in the mail. A bar of handmade soap, a mini skein, set of stitch markers, 10% off coupon...something like that. The only rules are that a) you have to leave a comment on this blog-- it can be on any of the posts and be about anything b) I can figure out who you are from your comment and c) you have placed an order from us in the past (otherwise I won't have your mailing address on file). 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Giving

You may have noticed that on everyone of our ball bands or patterns, right below the little Sheepy logo it says "at least 5% of Unique Sheep's profits are donated to charity". Did you ever wonder what we meant about that? Of course we have our Yarns and Patterns for a Cause Collections, but thats different. At the end of the year, when we do all our financial paper work and figure out how we did for the year, we donate at least 5% of our net profits for the year to one or two charities that we personally feel are worthy. We haven't made up our minds yet about where we want our money to go this year-- there are so many great causes out there. 

I know we aren't the only ones who give a little more around the holidays. What charities do you donate to (or wish you had the resources to donate to)? 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Unique Sheep Meets Miss Violet!

Guess who Kelly and I got to meet this week---- Miss Violet ala Lime & Violet. Thats right, THE Lime & Violet. As in, the Lime & Violet Podcast and the Daily Chum. Probably my favorite knitting celebrity in this country (though I have to admit to having 'favorites' in a number of different countries...). Miss V was in North Carolina for some businessy meetings and decided to extend her stay by a few days to visit with knitters, yarn shops and other must-sees in the state. On Monday my friend Alli from Winston-Salem played hookie from school (shes a teacher, shhh don't tell the principle!) and we had coffee with Miss V at one of my favorite Carrboro coffee shops. Then Miss V came over for a tour of the "studio". I think she was pretty impressed by how much I managed to cram into my little apartment! I had a very nice time and it was so great to meet someone who's voice I hear so often on her podcast. You know, I love the yarn and the knitting and the dyeing and everything, but my favorite part of this job is meeting all the great people from around the country and even around the world. I feel like I "know" so many of you-- customers, designers, fellow dyers and yarn shop owners--even though I've never met you in person. Having the opportunity to meet face to face is like icing on the cake! 

Today Kelly had the opportunity to play tour guide for Miss V in Greensboro and Highpoint, visiting all the great yarn shops (Knit Picky Yarns, Gate City Yarns and Common Threads-- all of which either carry or are soon to carry Unique Sheep yarns!)  I'm sure she'll share her stories/photos with us tomorrow after shes had a chance to rest up from all the fun! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Introducing....Something Blue

The Something Blue Stole was designed for The Unique Sheep by Marie Haigh.

This stole symbolizes the structure of a happy marriage. The knitted columns ebb and flow into each other just as one half of a married couple shoulders the majority of the responsibilities and provides unconditional love during times of hardship. Later, such support is reciprocated by the other half of the married couple.

Knit the stole as a gift for a bride, as an anniversary present or as homage to your own happy marriage.

May the stole bring you or your loved one many years of marriage bliss.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A little bit of Holiday Cheer

More pictures of Honeybun in her Santa hat can be seen on my personal blog.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gift Shopping

Everyone has holiday gift shopping on their minds right now. Most holiday knitting has been started already (unless you are a really fast knitter!) but what about the knitters on your list? We have a few suggestions.

Our no-rinse Sheep Soap is a great stocking stuffer for all the knitters in your life. Sheep Soap is an all-natural, handmade liquid soap that easily dilutes in a tub of water to gently soak your hand knits. And the essential oils that make it smell yummy also deter moths and other pests!

And because people need soap too, you can now buy our Human Soap by the bar. Its the same great, handmade soap included in our Wash Set Kits. I have a bar in each of the guest bathrooms, a couple bars by the bathtub, and one in the kitchen. Oh and of course I have a few hanging in their Soap Sacks in the shower.

Shawl Sticks are great gifts for knitters who knit wraps or shawls. Our wooden shawl sticks are simple and subtle enough to let the beauty of the knitting/crochet to be in the spotlight. We have lots of different styles available!

For the sock-knitter on your list, our mini sock blocker kits fit the bill. Each keychain comes with a pattern and mini skein of Unique Sheep yarn to knit a tiny sock!

And if you just can't decide, gift certificates are always great gifts!