Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Friends

Yesterday I met a few new friends at Juniper Moon Farm. Though Shepherd Suzie was out of town, Apprentices Eleanor and Jen were gracious hostesses and made me feel right at home. They didn't even make me do any chores! It was a cold but beautiful day and the farm blew me away. Its just perfect. In fact, if I hadn't seen all the animals I wouldn't have believed it was a real, working farm-- it was just too clean and neat! Well, at least I thought so until one of the goats rubbed pee on me (did you know that male goats pee on their own faces during mating season? Yep.). The sheep were, of course, beautiful to watch grazing in the fields, enjoying the last of the season's green grass. And I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly all the other animals were. Once Sabine the livestock guardian dog was confident that I wasn't there to steal her sheep she was eager for belly rubs. Its nice to see that even working dogs can be spoiled rotten! And then I met two of the handsomest fellows on the farm- Charley and Churchill. They are pet potbellied pigs and so friendly and funny. It was hard to get a photo of them because when I knelt down they wanted to climb up into my lap or nibble on the camera. Apparently they love to be scratched. And now I'm pretty sure I need a pet pig of my own.

But of course I couldn't stay away from my own home for too long, after all I had a backyard full of very chilly poultry waiting on me to return!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Block of the Month Crochet Along

I have always wanted a big, cozy blanket made out of crocheted squares. Something kind of scrappy but in a pulled together sort of way. Casual enough to wrap up in on the couch but with the quality that will make it an heirloom. I bet you've always wanted one too, haven't you? Or maybe you just want an opportunity to learn new crochet stitches or freshen up old skills. Perhaps its just that you can't resist the idea of yarny gift from The Unique Sheep in your mailbox every month. Whatever your reason, our new Block of the Month Crochet Along Club is the perfect club for anyone handy with a hook. And priced at only $17 per month (including domestic shipping) its even the perfect price.

Find out more on our website.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Corelli Crochet A-Long

The Corelli CAL is a mystery lace crocheting club. Charles Voth has designed an elegant crocheted scarf for our very first Crochet-A-Long. In designing this pattern, Charles was inspired by the music of Corelli, a composer of the Trio Sonata, a musical form popular during the Baroque period of music. This scarf is baroque in nature having 3 different motifs that play against each other but butress and support each other beautifully. To find out more, and reserve your spot, please visit our website!

Wonderland II

Once again we invite you to travel down the rabbit hole to Alice's Wonderland. Join us for another round of imaginative sock making!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What is "Indie"

When I have time I love to follow the discussion in the Yarnthropology discussion group on Ravelry. Though it is often inspired by current issues (ehem, dramas)in the fiber world, discussions generally succeed at being more intellectual and impartial than simply rubber necking. The discussion at the top of the list right now regards the meaning of the term "Indie" when applied to dyers and designers. Kelly and I identify ourselves as being indie dyers and see ourselves as part of the indie community so this is an idea that has kept rolling around in my mind since I first came across the discussion. So, without further ado, here is what I think about it.

Indie is a term that is used in different markets/communities to mean different things.You can make certain comparisons between, for example, indie musicians and indie yarn dyers but there are also a lot of differences in the way the term is used in the different communities. So for the purposes of today's discussion we are only talking about indies in the fiber arts (indie yarn dyers and pattern designers as well as people who make and sell knitting accessories such as stitch markers or knitting bags).

Within the fiber arts, the term means different things to different people. This makes it hard to define on a broad scale but an attempt can still be made to distill the important attributes that most definitions hold in common. Some of these include:

  • business structure - working independently of a major label/brand/corporation. question- what about independent contracting? When a designer has a pattern picked up by Interweave Knits are they no longer indie? What about if a dyer has her yarn used in a Fiber Trends pattern?
  • size- indies are generally considered to be small, that's a given. But in our industry even the BIG companies (Cascade, Crystal Palace, etc) are really small compared to most corporations in the non-fiber arts world. So the question is, how small does one have to be to be considered Indie. Is size a reference the the amount of annual sales, the number of hands in the pot (one owner/no employees vs. partner owners vs. owner + employees, etc) or some harder to define idea of the size of the brand in the consumer's eye?
  • money- does the financial success of the artist make a difference? is someone more or less indie if their work provides "fun money" to supplement their regular income, pays for their share of a family income or supports an entire family? Similarly, does it matter if the fiber business is a full time job, a part time job supplementing a paid day job or a part time job supplementing a non-paid day job as a parent/spouse.
  • availability- does something have to be scarce or hard to acquire to be indie? Do indies only sell retail, direct to customer or can they sell wholesale to LYS and online yarn shops as well? Does having an etsy/artfire shop vs. a dedicated website make a difference? For designers, how does selling through Ravelry fit in?

Now I have to go write a lawyer-speak letter to a candy brand upset about our use of Chocolate Kiss as a colorway. More about that later. I'll follow up with more thoughts about the indie concept soon!

Laura's Thoughts

Something about this time of year always makes me more thoughtful. Or maybe its because by the end of October we are done with festivals for the year and I can settle back in at home with a cup of coffee and a view out the kitchen window of the chickens scratching through the blanket of colored leaves. Writing about my thoughts helps me organize them, and re-reading what I've written helps me to evaluate these thoughts. So over the next week or so I'm going to try to post some of these mental meanderings to the blog. I'd love to have your input so please leave comments.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Christmas Club

When Kelly and Laura asked me if I would like to design a Christmas themed sock or stocking I was delighted. I immediately had a vision of an old fashioned, Victorian style dressing gown – the sort of thing that scrooge might wear in a heavy brocade fabric with a fur collar.

This is what inspired the design. A heavily textured, brocade like stitch pattern, topped with a fluffy cuff and of course leg shaping adds up to a fun knee sock that you can wear over the holidays. Not into knee socks? Hold the yarn double and make a beautiful Christmas stocking to hang on you mantel on Christmas Eve.

---Janine le Cras


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Carolina Tiger Rescue

Carolina Tiger Rescue is a non-profit wildlife sanctuary that rescues wildcats, educates the public and advocates for the preservation of natural habitats for wildcats and the humane care for those held in captivity. The Unique Sheep supports Caroline Tiger Rescue by donating 50% of the sales of the Tiger, Tiger colorway and the patterns Fierce and Reginald.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Computer Problems and Eos Sale

I use a laptop for almost all of the Unique Sheep Business. Having experience the devastation of hard drive crashes and viruses I conscientiously back up to an external hard drive. What I never expected was the have the screen/lid break off from the body/keyboard! But somehow that's exactly what happened and the only way to get it fixed is to send it off to the manufacturer and it could be gone for up to a week! I'll be able to use my husband's laptop for emails and basic things but please forgive me if I'm a bit scattered or delayed in responding to emails. Without my laptop I feel like I'm missing half my brain!

One of the things I won't be able to do until my laptop is returned is to edit the website. Which means that I can't take down the Eos sale which was supposed to end at the end of June. So now instead of taking 10% off Eos until the end of June, you have until I get my laptop (and its website editing software) back!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Yarns!

We have three brand new yarns to introduce you to! Lace weight yarns are very popular right now- in fact we have a hard time keeping them in stock. So we have added two new lace weight yarns to our collection

Ling is an elegant, cultivated silk/superwash merino blend that soaks up deep, bold and bright colorways. The twist is tight, giving the yarn more the slightest texture that keeps it from slipping from your needles as easily as 100% silk and making it not quite so shiny.

Ostara is a more casual alternative in 100% cotton. Ideal for those sensitive to animal fibers, it is also perfect for lightweight summer wraps. It is also a more economical alternative to some of our more expensive lace weight yarns.

If your taste is for soft and squishy yarns in a slightly thicker fingering weight, you'll be delighted with Pashmi. This Cashmere/SW Merino/Nylon blend makes the most luxurious shawls and scarves and can even be used for extra special socks. Its so soft, I can't stop knitting baby items out of it!

We have all three yarns in stock and they are available on our website now! Or, encourage your favorite Unique Sheep retailer to place a wholesale order for these great new yarns!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Color for a Cause

The green of new rice seedlings for the children and their innocence
The blue of the clear sky over the coastal ocean for the endless potential in each child
The burnish orange of baked bricks for the foundation upon which each child needs to grow
The red of the watermelon for the sweetness of sharing our lives and bounty

Find out more here!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sharing our Gifts: Project 6

This month's Sharing our Gifts project is a lot of fun- we are making stockings and toys for needy children in Virginia. Toys are one of my favorite things to make so I jumped at the excuse to try a few new patterns. These googley eyed toys by cheezombie are addicting! I used size 3 needles and scraps of Super Wool for everything except the eyes which are done in mystery scraps of white and black that I found in my stash. They were so much fun to make! And quick and easy, too. The sheep was a bit fiddly with all its parts- the slug was the easiest and seems to have the most personality, somehow. I have just packed them up and now they are off to Virginia!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


You asked for it, and now we've got it! Mugs and mini-notebooks with the Unique Sheep logo, just for you! We only have a limited supply of these, so get yours while they last! They can both be found under "Accessories" on our website.

Moonfleet Mystery Lace KAL!

Are you ready for an adventure?
Click Below

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eos is Back!

We have great news- we finally have Eos back in stock!! We were completely unprepared for the rush of orders for Eos for the Evenstar KAL and not only did we run out, our distributor ran out! So we had to wait for more to be spun. But big boxes of cones arrived this week and we are ready to fill more orders now. So if you have been wanting Eos for Evenstar or for your other lace knitting projects, now is the time to order! We've also been adding more pictures of our colorways dyed on Eos to the website. We love how Eos takes colors in a soft, shimmery almost magical way!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Unique Sheep SWAG

Customers keep asking for us to offer coffee mugs with the Unique Sheep Logo on them, and maybe even t-shirts or tote bags. We'd love to offer these things for sale or as "extras" in our club shipments. But to get decent prices we need to order large batches, so we need to decide on just a few things that we want a lot of (rather than a lot of different things that we only want a few of). And its really hard to decide because there are so many options! So we want your help. Leave us a comment and let us know:

1) Would you prefer a t-shirt, mug and/or tote bag? If you would buy more than one thing, let us know that, too!

For Mugs:
1) Do you prefer white, dark color, pastel or bright color for the main color of the mug?
2) How large a mug do you like? (small/med/large or # ounces)
3) Do you like the standard shaped mugs or the fancier ones with smooth curves or interesting shapes?
4) How much would you pay for a Unique Sheep Mug? (this will help us choose a mug style since they range in price)

For T-Shirts:
1) short sleeved or long sleeved?
2) favorite color?
3) size?
4) How much would you pay for a Unique Sheep T-Shirt?

We need to do more research about tote-bag options before we know which questions to ask!

Thanks for your help!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Unique Sheep Ambassadors

We love all of our customers, but sometimes a customer stands out above the rest. This is the customer who talks about her experiences with The Unique Sheep on his blog and podcast, encourages her LYS to start carrying Unique Sheep yarns or convinces all of her friends to join our clubs. This is the customer who keeps our Ravelry boards active and encourages her fellow club members when they need help with the patterns or are indecisive about continuing. We can't do enough to thank these customers; not only do they help our business grow (word of mouth is our primary form of "advertising") but they make it so much fun for us and for other customers. And they do it without being asked or receiving any reward. But we feel like they do deserve to be recognized for all that they have done, and so we have decided to give them the honored title of Unique Sheep Ambassador.

We would like to publicly thank and recognize the following customers as official, card carrying, Unique Sheep Ambassadors:

Ivy Reisner: Ivy is a member of many of our clubs and an active participant in our Ravelry groups. She is almost always the first to have finished her club projects! She has brought many new customers to The Unique Sheep through her podcast, Knit Spirit.

L-B Hessa and Ruth Hamlin-Douglas: L-B and Ruth are two of our most active customers on Plurk. They first discovered The Unique Sheep when they signed up for our Secret Garden Mystery Shawl KAL and since then have been so enthusiastic about the KAL and Unique Sheep in general that we credit them with the increased subscription to our next mystery KAL, The Enchanted Wood!

David Reidy: Well known for his podcast Sticks and String, David has been a member of our Ram Club since the first series and everytime he receives a club shipment he reviews it on his podcast. Its so much fun for us to be listening to his show and suddenly hear him mention us!

Allison George: Alli is our official Head Groupie. Aside from the important job of keeping Laura sane, she helps run the booth at SAFF. As an employee at her LYS she has encouraged many new customers to try Unique Sheep yarn.

Chelsea Powers: In addition to being outspoken on Plurk, Chelsea told her LYS owner about us and encouraged her to place an order. Now the Middleford Yarn and Stitchery Shoppe is one of the best places on the West coast to buy Gradiance Sets!

Do you know of someone who deserves the title of Unique Sheep Ambassador? Please nominate them by emailing us at laura@theuniquesheep.com and telling us who and why.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Crisis in Haiti

As the world rushes to help Haiti after the massive earthquake hit the small country, many people are wondering what they can do to help. In a situation like this its easy to feel powerless when we are stuck at home, dealing with the every day needs of our families, work, etc. The best thing to do, if you are able, is to donate money to an organization such as Doctors without Borders. Stephanie Pearl McPhee encouraged knitters to do exactly this on her blog, and if you haven't read it yet then please do.

We have noticed that many designers/dyers/etc have been posting products for sale where a portion of the proceeds are donated to Doctors without Borders or the Red Cross. We feel that simply donating to the organization of your choice is best because then 100% of the proceeds go directly to those in need. However, if you prefer to donate by purchasing, we'd like to remind you of our Doctors without Borders colorways and pattern. You could even buy a skein, knit a pair of socks and then send them to Doctors without Borders to keep the feet of one of their doctors or nurses warm and dry!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Knitting for Knitters

You know what we don't do enough of? Knitting for each other. As in, for other knitters. As knitters, we often knit for other people. But how often are those other people knitters? If you are like me, almost never. When I need to give a gift to a knitter I chose yarn or needles or fun notions. Instead of gifting a knitter with socks, I give her a pattern and skein of yarn and tell her to knit her own. And there is nothing wrong with that- she gets to enjoy knitting them and then wearing them, its like a gift that keeps giving. But its also nice to give, and receive, already knit items. I can only think of three hand knit gifts that I have ever received, and yet as a knitter I'm hugely excited and appreciative of hand knit gifts (unlike many non-knitters who don't understand the time and attention and expensive yarn that goes into hand knit gifts). I need to remember this the next time I have a knitter friend that needs a gift!

You might wonder why I'm thinking about this topic, and I have a good reason. My good friend Alli (the Official Unique Sheep Groupie, really, she has a card. and a button) knit me a beautiful cowl as a Christmas present and gave it to me yesterday. I wore it out to dinner today and love, love love it. And you know what makes it even more special? She used a pattern designed by one of my friends- Daniella at Danido Crafty. The pattern is the Verge Neckwarmer, but made a bit smaller so that it didn't eat me (what can I say, I'm petite). And you know what makes it even more super special? She used Unique Sheep yarn. So I can wear it at festivals and stuff to show off Unique Sheep yarn. Plus, its Super Wool Gigante so its insanely soft and squishy and warm. How lucky am I?

Friday, January 8, 2010

And the winner is...

Our random number generator has picked the following comment as our winner:

Blogger errs said...

Oh - definitely Reflecting Pool.Delete

Congratulations Errs! I'll ship the magazine to you next week!

p.s. Reflecting Pool is even the color I ended up picking- I'll post photos soon!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ruth's Tunic

Now that all my holiday projects are done, I'm ready to cast on something for myself and I think its time for a new sweater! Every since Ruth's Tunic was published in Yarn Forward this fall its been calling my name. So I've decided that if I can get one more thing off the needles I'll let myself cast on. I'm going to use Sashimi since its the yarn the pattern was written for and because its soo soft and light but I don't have a sweater in it yet. But what colorway? It needs to be Gradiance, obviously. I like to wear blues, browns and greens. Maybe Queen Krista or Reflecting Pool? Or something more neutral like Wood Stock? Or a bit bolder with Hurricane Meadow? Its so hard to decide!

If you were going to knit this sweater, which colorway would you pick? Leave a comment with you answer and we'll randomly pick one commenter to win a FREE COPY OF YARN FORWARD, including this pattern!