Friday, April 21, 2017

Dyers in Their Studios - Brooke of Sincere Sheep

Welcome Brooke Sinnes of Sincere Sheep, the dyer for our Summer Ficstitches Yarns Kit Club. Brookes booth at fiber shows always catches my eye because of the lovely soft shades of color you can only get when dyeing with natural materials, including Indigo, which is mentioned in several of of the fictional stories author C. Jane Reid writes for our Kits.

Indigo was a commonly used element for dyeing in the historical periods of the stories, but can be used to achieve a whole range of colors beyond the blues one would expect. In fact both the pale blue St. Bart's and dark burgandy Urchin colors choices for the summer kit are created using Indigo. Because Brooke's cormo yarns are custom spun exclusively for Sincere Sheep, she was able to create extra large skeins for our kits, so we would have enough for a larger project for this kit. We are so excited to be working with her! Now let's get to know more about Brooke and Sincere Sheep....

·       How long have you been dyeing yarn? Since about 2013.
·       How did you get started dyeing?  I found out that local farmers were composting or throwing away their wool because the wool prices were so low that it didn’t make sense to ship it to the local wool pool.
·       What is your background?  I have a degree in Landscape Architecture.
·       Do you have any special experience with art or science that influences your dyeing?  My dad is an artist and writer so I grew up around art.
·       Where do you create?  My studio is located in the side yard and garage of my house. It’s not particularly sexy but it allows me the flexibility I need since I have an eight-year-old son. I currently employ 3 people part-time beside myself.

·       What makes your yarn special or unique?  All my yarn is naturally dyed and my yarn bases are primarily domestically sourced and spun and breed specific.
·       How is dyeing with natural dyes different from using other dyes?  It’s more labor intensive and the dyes tend to be more expensive. I think it is all worth it because the palette from natural dyes is eminently wearable and it provides a fascinating connection with the past!
·       What is something interesting about your dyeing process that non-dyers might not know?  My dyeing process is a multi-day process! 
·       How do you choose your colors and name your yarns?  Sometimes I develop a color because I am looking to fill a hole and sometimes new colors come about because of experimentation. Names mostly just pop in to my head!
·       Where do you find inspiration?  All around! The colors achieved by natural dyes are reflected in nature. My inspiration, in a word, is connection. I love that through natural dyes, fiber, and crafting I have a connection to the past, to other cultures, to farmers, to community, to fiber mills and to the land. I love that I help to support other small businesses, family farms, family fiber mills and women owned businesses through what I do. That means a lot to me.

·       How many colorways do you have? About 26.
·       Do you create seasonal or special order colors? I do collaborate to create custom colors. Seasonal colors can come from gathered plants (Queen Anne’s Lace; Fennel; Loquat leaves for example) but most of my colors are available year-round.
·       How many and what types of bases do you use?  I have around 15 bases and focus on breed specific wool and wool blend yarns.
·       Where do your yarn bases come from?  The vast majority of my bases are domestically sourced and spun. My Cormo bases are custom spun for me.
·       How is the specialty yarn, made for Sincere Sheep, processed?  We have our single source Cormo yarns made custom for Sincere Sheep. The yarn making process starts with the sheep being shorn at 9 Mile Ranch in Kaycee, Wyoming. We then work with the representative of the wool pool that represents the Rocky Mountain West region to purchase the Cormo wool and have it sent to Chargeurs in South Carolina. Once there the wool is scoured to remove dirt and lanolin. From there it is shipped to Kraemer mill in Pennsylvania where is carded, combed, and spun in to the three different weights of yarn we have specified. After it is it spun it is sent to me in Napa where I naturally dye it before it makes its way out into the world and into your hands.
·       Where can we find your yarn? LYSs and online? Yes in our Online Store and at shows. 

·       What are your favorite colors? Cool colors in general but green specifically
·       Favorite fibers?  Cormo wool
·       Do you crochet, knit, or spin? What came first?  All the above. I joke that I must be an alien birth because while there are lots of creative people in my extended family I am the only one who knits, weaves, etc. It started when I was a kid and I hated watching TV and not doing anything with my hands. I taught myself how to knit, crochet, bead weave, latch hook and more. I continued knitting through high school and university, and learned to spin after I graduated from college.
·       Anything else you would like to share?  After graduation I moved back to Berkeley and found a place to take weaving classes. That led to classes on spinning, felting, and natural dyeing. Learning these skills inspired me like nothing else. At the same time I was learning all of this, the price of wool in the US was tanking and the slow food movement was really gaining momentum. I also moved to Napa, which is in the epicenter of viticulture and wine making in California. All of this combined made me realize the concept of terroir, or how the location and year an agricultural product is grown affects its characteristics, could be applied to naturally dyed fibers. After all wool is a record of the ewe’s year and natural dyes change from year to year based on growing conditions. With that in mind I set about buying wool from small local farms at much higher prices than what the local wool pool was paying at the time. I had this local wool processed at a mill less than 60 miles from my house and then I naturally dyed it before selling it at area shows. This concept of using my business to support and connect the makers to the fiber producers has served as a foundation of my business as it has grown and changed over the past 13 years.

·       Website?
·       Ravelry Group? Sincere Sheep 
·       Facebook? Sincere Sheep 
·       Twitter? @sinceresheep
·       Instagram - @sinceresheep      
      There's only one week left to order the Summer 2017 Ficstitches Yarns Kit Club. Don't miss another kit and this awesome yarn!

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