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!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fiber Arts Marketplace THIS WEEKEND in Sanford NC

If you are in North Carolina and are a Knitter, Quilter or Fiber Artist, be sure to check out the Quilting and Fiber Arts Marketplace in Sanford, NC this Friday & Saturday (Jan 7-8). The Unique Sheep will have be there along with many other great vendors. This is our first year with a booth but I visited last year as a shopper and came away very inspired (and loaded down with shopping bags!). The marketplace is indoors so you don't have to worry about chilly weather and there is plenty of parking. Even if you don't have any shopping to do its worth a visit just to see all the beautiful samples on display and be inspired by what other fiber artists are up to!

More Information Here