Friday, December 30, 2011

Warm Heads, Full Bellies

I am busy in the kitchen today preparing to have the family over for the holiday weekend. As I peel carrots and open cans I am thankful that I have good food to fill the plates and bellies of my loved ones. Unfortunately not everyone is so lucky. My home town, Winston-Salem, NC was just named the worst place in the country for hungry kids and the food banks shelves are often completely empty. Growing up I had no idea that kids I saw at school might not have food to eat at home and now that I am more aware it still shocks me. So this year part of my annual giving is going to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. To help raise money we are donating 100% of sales our Basic Ribbed Hat pattern to the Food Bank. So far we have raised about $130 in pattern sales and we have decided that we will MATCH all money raised through pattern sales by Jan 1. So if you'd like to help us fill the shelves please purchase a copy of the hat pattern in the next day or two and we'll donate the $10 from the pattern sale PLUS an additional $10. This hat pattern is my favorite for quick, warm hats which are perfect for giving to homeless shelters

Thursday, December 29, 2011

An Interview with LoBug

In 2012 we have resolved to celebrate the independent designers and artisans that we have the honor of working with through The Unique Sheep. To start things off we have selected LoBug (Laurel Coombs) as our artist of the month. All orders over $30 placed in January, 2012, will receive a free pattern by LoBug.

Laurel has been designing for The Unique Sheep since back when The Unique Sheep first began and when she was just getting started designing professionally. She has been involved in many of our clubs, most notably the Lord of the Rings inspired sock clubs which resulted in our LotR Socks booklets. We asked Laurel to tell us a little bit more about how she got into knitting and designing and to answer some interview questions so we could learn a bit more about her. Enjoy!

I fell into professional knitwear design by accident in 2007 when I joined and answered a call for submissions. I had been knitting and doing limited design for my family for 4 years before that. Knitting and design is a huge part of my life now, but it was never something I even considered before my friend showed me the magic of 2 sticks and a string in 2003. I dream of designs in between homeschooling my 4 children and cooking food for my wonderful husband. I live in Portland, Oregon, and cover my family in knits to keep them warm and dry.

Designing came about because there were no sweater patterns available that my husband liked, so I designed one. It was so much fun to match a design to a person, that I never looked back. I love turning ideas and images into knitwear, and am willing to try just about anything. New techniques are often learned in new designs, and my favorite thing about knitting is that there is always something more to learn and try. I believe firmly in adventurous knitting- after all, if you make a mistake, the worst thing that can happen is that you have to rip it out and knit some more; and more knitting is always a good thing, right? (That being said, lifelines are my best friend.)

1. What is your favorite word? Onomatopoeia. I just love how it sounds.

2. What is your least favorite word? Poop

3. What turns you on? My husband cleaning my house and doing the dishes….

4. What turns you off? Lack of sleep, lots of noise.

5. What sound do you love? Silence

6. What sound do you hate? Bickering children

7. What is your favorite curse word? Blast

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Accounting

9. What profession would you not like to do? Garbage disposal- or cloth diaper service. I’m over the dirty diapers.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Well done, good and faithful servant.

1. when did you learn to knit? November, 2003. I remember b/c my 2nd child was 2 months old, and I taught myself to purl with a book on the way to the In-laws for Thanksgiving.

2. Who taught you? My dear friend, Michelle, from my church.

3. what is your favorite yarn company (HAHA) The Unique Sheep of course!!! But if I can’t get their yarns, I’d prefer Classic Elite or Louet.

4. Wood or metal? I’ve gone back and forth a couple times; currently I prefer metal. Signatures, if you want to be specific. ;)

5. what is your favorite weight yarn to work with? Both for design and for personal use. (If you have one) I just love yarn. I’m not too picky- but I’m not immensely fond of either bulky or lace. I’ll use them, but it’s not as easy or fun for me. Sport is probably my favorite, if I have to pick.

6. What do you have coming up that you can tell us about? Next July, I have a new sock booklet coming out with Charing Cross Publishers. I’m pretty excited about that. Plus some secret projects I’ve been working on with you…. Then in 2013, my first book of patterns that’s not exclusively socks will be published. I’m working on those designs now and loving it.

You can follow Laurel on her blog, A Bug's Life.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Crochet Block of the Month Club

We have some exciting news!

First of all, the Crochet Block Kits from 2011 are now available for individual purchase on the You can pick your favorites or order them all!

Second, the Crochet Block of the Month Club is continuing in 2012! We will have fresh new patterns and colors for the new year and are welcoming two new designers- Donna Kay Lacey and Margaret MacInnis!! All 2012 blocks will remain exclusive to club members until the end of the year.

As usual, you can sign up for the Crochet Block of the Month Club on our website.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New! Fresh From the Farm Club!

For the very first time, The Unique Sheep is offering our handdyed colors on a beautiful, one of a kind yarn from a small local farm. Find out more on our website!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mini Skein Club

Are you knitting the BeeKeeper's Quilt or the Mitred Square Sock Blanket? Do you like to do mismatched socks or stripes of different colors? Scrap-yarn projects are so much fun and a great way to use up stash, but what if your stash isn't big enough? Or maybe you just don't have all the colors you need. If you need small amounts of lots of different colors on sock weight yarn, this is the club for you!

Click HERE for more information

Retreat 2012

Mark your calendars- the annual Unique Sheep Retreat will be August 24-26, 2012. We'll be at Hawkesdene House in western North Carolina again. Find out more here and email me at to reserve your spot.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I love a man with a bit of facial hair. Even more, I love a healthy man. Since the Unique Sheep is run by women we can't join the Movember movement as true participants -- no one wants to see us try to grow a mustache--but we've thrown in our support with the Balls for Balls colorway. One of our "colors for a cause" 50% of sales of this colorway are donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Live Strong through Movember.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween Contest Results!

Thank you for everyone who submitted photos to the Halloween Contest!

We used a random number generator to determine the winners. And the winners are....

Vicki (with the handsome little pirate) and Brandon, i.e. the Green Man! Congratulations!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Contest

Tomorrow is the big day but since Halloween is on a Monday this year many of us celebrated early in order to get our partying in during the weekend. Chris and I (Laura) had a party at our house on Saturday with some of Chris's coworkers. Living out in the country we don't get any trick or treaters, so Halloween parties are our only excuse to dress up. I was an 18th century zombie and Chris went as Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation.

If you celebrated already I hope you remembered to take photos. If not, don't forget your camera when you dress up tomorrow! We've already received several great submissions which we have posted on Flickr. Remember, send your submissions to

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I love Halloween, and not just because of all the sweet treats. I love the costumes. If I could, I would wear costumes throughout the year but since that would likely end with padded walls I have to wait till that one night a year when costumes are celebrated. I'll be going as a 18th Century Zombie. I found this great dress at a local theatre's sale, it was rather worn with some of the lace coming off and a ripped seam or two so I got it for a steal. Then I added a bit more grim by splashing it with black tea and dragging the hem in some dirt. The look is finished off with zombie makeup. I just have to decide if I want to wear a poufy white wig or if I'll be able to tease my hair into something resembling a Marie Antoinette style do. I'll make sure to take some photos at Saturday's Halloween Party so you can see how it turns out.

Aside from the fun of dressing up yourself, there is also the fun of seeing all of your friends dressed up for the holiday. We'd like to see YOUR costumes and to motivate you we are offering up a prize or two. Keep reading for contest rules and details.

Contest Rules
1. Submit a photo of you, your spouse, child or pet dressed up for Halloween by emailing the photo to no later than November 3rd.
2. Photo does not have to be from this year.
3. By sending us your photo you give us permission to post them on Flickr and on this blog.
4. You can send multiple photos if you want to, but you'll only get one entry per person.
5. Winners will be selected by random drawing from all entries on November 4th.

We will be giving away skeins of our special HALLOWEEN themed colorways. The exact colors, yarns and number of prizes awarded will be a surprise.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Holiday Gifts

Now that it is October its time to get serious about our holiday gift making and shopping. I hate to leave it to the last minute because I don't like battling the crowds downtown or at the shopping mall once we get into December. Like most of your I'll be making a few of my gifts this year. My little brother has requested his annual knit hat. He always asks for the same pattern, which I designed for him, but picks out different colors each year. This year he has asked for green and yellow to support our cousin Ryan who joined the Packers this fall.

Of course some of my friends and family knit for themselves so they will be receiving yarn as gifts, rather than finished items. That way they can enjoy the process and the finished result. Since part of the fun is picking out your own yarn and colors, I'll be wrapping up Unique Sheep gift certificates in pretty envelopes to put under the tree.

Not all of my gifts will be yarn related, of course. I've also been searching Etsy for gift. This really unique handmade mug looks perfect for one of my slightly-eccentric caffeine addicted friends!

For neighbors, the ladies in my knitting group and my square dancing club I think I'll do some baking. Which of course means that I need to "practice" some of my recipes now to make sure they taste ok! I think this week I'll do shortbread cookies and use some cute fall cookie cutters to make them festive.

I love gift giving. The challenge of finding the perfect gift - or making it- and then the reward of seeing the recipient open and enjoy the gift. But anytime I'm going to be spending money, even if its on other people, I try to be responsible in my spending habits. So I choose to spend my money at small businesses and on artisan produced goods. My baking ingredients will come from a local co-op grocer, my gifts will be found on etsy or at independent artisans' websites.

What gift making and giving do you have planned for this year?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Knit and Crochet Show- Greensboro, NC

Thanks to everyone who stopped by this weekend at the Knit and Crochet Show! We had such a wonderful time meeting new customers and spending time with old friends. Now its back to the dye studio we go to prepare for our next show-- SAFF in Asheville, NC October 21-23. See you there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Come See Us at The Knit and Crochet Show!

We will have a booth at the Knit and Crochet Show in Greensboro, NC Sept 23-25 so stop by and say hello! There is a great line up of vendors and teachers so it looks like it'll be a fun weekend.

See you there!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The wrath of Irene

The flooding from Irene has caused great devastation in Vermont, the state where I (Kelly) grew up. The people of Vermont have lost big parts of hundreds of roads, and many, many bridges were destroyed, including several historic covered bridges.

Here is a part of the road that my family used every day to go to work, school, and even the grocery store. This road abuts the Cold River, so there was more than this one wash out along the 10 miles we used to travel.

It is going to take a long time for this little state to recover. Homes and businesses were destroyed and damaged, along with all the roads and bridges. I grew up with the owner of Wilk's Paving, pictured below:

Although I now call North Carolina "Home" (well really anywhere my DH resides is home for me :)), seeing all the pictures and videos of Vermont, after Irene, has brought tears to my eyes and lumps in my throat. I have seen pictures of disaster many times before, but seeing places under water and torn apart, that I knew as a child and young adult, make this storm much more personal.
As you all might know, we donate 5% of our net profits to charity every year, so Laura and I decided this is a good time to put some of that money to work. We know that other states have suffered great damage due to Irene, including many counties in the Eastern part of our beautiful state, North Carolina, so we chose to donate $1000 to the Red Cross. Since it is an international organization, we are sure they will find a good place to spend our donation to help people in need no matter where they are, including Vermont.

We want to also take this time to thank all of our customers for their support of The Unique Sheep. If not for you, we would not be able to make this generous donation. 

Warm, fuzzy and hand painted HUGS to all of you....

Kelly and Laura

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Pattern: Bashful Butterflies

We are so pleased to announce the release of this new shawlette pattern! It can be knit with one of our Fingering Weight Sock Sets (the sample is in Sushi Socks) or 200g of Pima Petite. Julia is an up-and-coming designer from the UK; you can see more of her designs on Ravelry.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canadian Post

Canadian Customers,
Due to the Canadian Post strike and lock out it is unclear when packages sent to Canadian addresses will arrive. If you would like for us to send your package using a different shipping method (i.e. UPS, FedEx, etc) or hold your package until the lock out is over please let us know. There may be an extra charge for shipping but we'll handle it on a case by case basis. You can email us at or include a comment with your order to let us know what you'd like us to do!

Laura & Kelly

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Come See us at the Carolina Fiber Fest this weekend!

The Unique Sheep will have a booth at the Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh this weekend, May 20-22. This is our first year doing this festival and they have a great line up of vendors, teachers and speakers. We will have lots of Gradiance yarns, of course, and may even pull out our Serendipity basket with odds and ends of our yarns at deep discounts. Laura will be driving all the way from her new home in Kentucky for the event so come out and say hello! This will be our last event before our Retreat in August so don't miss it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Extra Yarn

Many of our customers have been knitting Susan Pandorf's In Dreams shawl using one of our Gradiance sets. Unfortunately Susan has announced that if they ordered 4oz they may run short near the end. Susan has posted alternate instructions for completing the shawl with the original 4oz on her website. This is the recommended strategy if you fear you are going to run out of yarn. If you'd like to continue with the original pattern, however, and order an additional 1oz skein of yarn to add to your 4oz Gradiance you can order these extra skeins for Eos or for Marici on our website. When you order, please let us know which end of the colorway you want your extra skein added to. Handdyed yarn is, by its nature, unique and varies significantly from batch to batch. Because of this we cannot guarantee that the extra skein we dye will match your original set. For that reason we suggest that you use the alternate instructions and stick with the original 4 oz, but we are leaving that decision up to you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Phoenix and The Carpet Mystery KAL

We are excited to announce our next mystery lace KAL- The Phoenix and the Carpet! Find out more on our website.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Yarn for Susan Pandorf's Lothlorien Cape

Susan Pandorf just revealed her stunning Lothlorien Cape pattern and guess what? She used Unique Sheep's Wild Thing yarn for it! Wild Thing is a really nice yarn that doesn't get much attention because its DK and DK yarns just don't seem to be that popular right now. But if you've been drowning in miles of laceweight and fingering weight yarn you'll welcome the extra heft of this soft, smooth silk/merino blend. Its a great choice for cables because it has great stitch definition and the thickness of the yarn makes the cables nice and plump.

We collaborated with Susan to create the Nature Walk Gradiance colorway just for this pattern, but I'm sure it would look lovely in other colors as well. Because it calls for an unusual amount of yarn we have set up a special listing on the website to make sure you get exactly what you need for this project!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Unique Sheep at Juniper Moon Fiber Farm

For the last month Kelly and I have been going nuts keeping a secret from you guys and finally we get to spill the beans! You can now find exclusive colorways and base yarns by The Unique Sheep available only through Juniper Moon (previously Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm). The Spring 2011 collection has just been posted in their online yarn shop. The colors in the Spring collection are exclusive to Juniper Moon and will only be available this spring. Once summer arrives we will be replacing them with summer colors so make sure to stock up now!

We are dying to order, just like we do on our own website, so you can order as much as you want and we will dye everything you order in the same dye lot. I.E. if you need to order 6 skeins for a sweater, we'll dye them together to make sure they match. Usually it can be hard to find a sweater's worth of hand dyed yarn from the same batch.
Make Custom Gifts at CafePress

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Amani Children's Foundation

Every three months we send in a donation to Amani Children's Foundation based on sales of our Amani colorway and sock pattern. And after they receive our check they always send us a thank-you note with an update on how the kids are doing and pictures. I always look forward to these letters and when one arrive this weekend I thought you might enjoy it too!

Thank you so much for your gift to care for children at New Life Home! Hooray for Unique Sheep, your beautiful wool, and your thoughtful spirit. What a difference your gift will make for a child as he waits for his new Kenyan parents this coming year!

We've just received word from the social workers at New Life Home that they completed their 100th adoption from New Life Home for the year during the week before Christmas. I'm attaching a picture of Fidel, one of the little boys whose adoption was completed during the last week of last year, as well as Arthur, his buddy who is still awaiting adoption in the Nairobi home.

Your gift will go to care for Arthur and the other 46 toddler boys in the 4 baby homes across the country. Little girls are usually adopted within their first year of life, so in this coming year, the social workers and advocates at New Life Home will be hard at work to find new parents for them--as your gift is hard at work caring for them until they are found.

You'll receive a hard copy receipt and letter in the mail, but I wanted you to know that your hard earned and faithful gift is already at work

Thank you!

Jane Stephens

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Krienik Threads

Here at the Unique Sheep we are usually talking about natural fiber yarns but since I know that many of you also enjoy the occasional "bling" in your knitting or use metallic threads in your other crafting pursuits (like needlework) I'd like to tell you about a wonderful company that I had the pleasure of touring this week: Krienik- Metallic, Silk and Iron on Threads & Embellishments.

Krienik manufactures beautiful metallic threads and yarns and they do it all with 18 employees (many of whom have been with the company for 20+yrs) in an office park in Parkersburg, WV. The company was started back in the 1970s when Estelle Krienik was frustrated not being able to find quality threads for her needlework. Like any good entrepreneur she realized that if she was looking for a source of unique, quality threads then there were likely to be others in the same position. And so the company was born. Her husband Jerry soon joined the business and later their sons took over. Today Doug, one of Estelle and Jerry's sons, runs the business.

As it happens, Doug and his wife were taking Jerry and Estelle out to dinner to celebrate Jerry's birthday on Tuesday night at the same restaurant where Chris and I were out to eat with Chris's parents and grandma. And Chris's mom, having grown up with the Krieniks, stopped at their table to wish Jerry a happy birthday and somehow the conversation turned to yarn and before I knew it Doug was inviting us over for a tour of his factory the next morning.

The factory was really, really neat. First of all, the place is full of shelves and shelves full of brightly colored thread and yarn. Wow. Compared to the wools I'm accustomed to the metallic yarns are SO vivid. And then there were all the machines. I can't show you pictures of many of them, I'm afraid, because I wouldn't want any of Doug's "trade secrets" to get out. But there were machines- most of them made or customized by Doug and his employees- to braid thread, twist yarn, wind skeins, fill cones, label bobbins and even a machine to put the little bobbins of yarn in those plastic blister packs you see on the shelves at the thread shop. I always wondered how they did that!

But best of all was Doug's enthusiasm and his clear passion for his work, his employees and the needlework industry. I could have spent the day chatting with Doug about the changes hes seen in the 30+ years he has been in the industry, the amazing things his designers and customers are coming up with and where he sees the future of the needlearts industry headed. Oh and can you guess what Doug said I asked him if he was familiar with TNNA ? Why yes, he just got back from the Long Beach conference and, get this, he used to be on the BOARD OF DIRECTORS. Wow. If I wasn't trying to play professional business woman myself I probably would have squeed and asked him for his autograph.

So if you are looking for metallics to carry with your knitting yarn for a bit of bling, or threads for your embroidery or cross stitch and you want to support a small, family owned business right here in the US, choose Krienik. You can find them everywhere from small sewing shops to online stores to JoAnn's! I personally have my eye on this cute sheep kit!