Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Week in Knit 5: Unique Sheep - Painty!

This week I am featuring one of my favorite dyers. Painty is one of the two members of the Unique Sheep

She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. I'm also showing off some of their beautiful yarns and projects I've knit with them.

Q: I absolutely loved the Lord of the (St)rings yarn club. You come up with some very unique club ideas, from the Seven Deadly Sins to the 7 wonders of the world. Where does your inspiration come from?

A: Our inspiration comes from all over the place. Because we love what we do, we are always talking about it to friends, family, pretty much anyone who will listen. And often these conversations lead to inspiration. Coming up with ideas is fun and easy- narrowing them down to just a few with the most potential and then doing the legwork to make them happen is more challenging!

Q: You and your business partner are in different cities. How do you keep up with customer orders and shipping etc?

A: Kelly and I (Laura) live about an hour or so apart and only see each other about once a month. We have “business meetings” over the phone and do most of our communication through email. This allows us to work from our homes and on our own schedules which we both love. Kelly and I each have our own colors so when an order comes in for one of Kelly’s colors she dyes it and ships it directly to the customer. Sometimes a customer will order one of Kelly’s colors and one of mine, in those cases the customer ends up getting two different packages of yarn since we each ship our parts of the order separately. It is a little bit more expensive for us to ship this way but doesn’t affect the cost for the customer since we offer flat rate shipping and most orders ship for free since we offer free shipping on domestic orders over $40.

Q: What made you decide to broadcast your dying sessions on Ustream?

A: I have been a long time watcher of the Lamb-Cam ( and thought it might be fun to do something similar but with dyeing. The idea started floating around in my mind months ago and when I discovered U-stream I decided to give it a try. I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet- I am still getting use to using the microphone/headset and sometimes put the microphone too close to my mouth resulting in “dragon breath” (thanks to my mom for that description) and I could use a better quality camera, but it’s a fun way to interact more with customers. It’s great for me since I spend most of the day in the studio by myself and customers seem to enjoy being able to see the “birth” of their yarn!

Q: Some of your gradience dying techniques are very unique. Were you afraid someone else could steal them after seeing them on the video? Will you stream more dyeing sessions? they were so fun to watch!

A: Kelly and I used to worry that another dyer would try to imitate our Gradiance dyeing technique. We have come to realize that there isn’t much of a risk of it happening because Gradiance dyeing is SO much more time consuming than regular dyeing. It easily takes four to six times as long to dye the same amount of yarn but obviously we can’t charge even double or normal prices—no one would be able to afford it! Even if another dyer experimented with Gradiance dyeing, I don’t think that they would adopt it to the degree that we have. It would be much easier for them to just come up with their own unique technique!

Q: Some people consider gadgets to all be electronic, but not always! Tell us about your waterproof paper.

A: I keep a notebook filled with all my colorway recipes. I used to just use a regular notebook until the day that I knocked over a bottle of dye and ruined the entire thing. That’s when I discovered the Rite in the Rain line of notebooks/papers. Designed for outdoors people they look and feel almost just like regular paper but as long as you use waterproof ink they don’t blur, smear or fall apart when you dump a cup full of dye on them!

Q: I went to the oldest blog post I could find to see where the Unique Sheep had its beginnings and saw it was previously the Handpainted Sheep. When did you start dyeing yarn?

A: I started dyeing yarn for myself and friends when I was in college in about 2005. As graduation neared I realized it was time to decide on a career and my degree in Anthropology & Gender Studies wasn’t terribly practical! I had this crazy idea to start a hand dyed yarn company and originally called it the Handpainted Sheep. I soon discovered that another dyer was using that name, so I switched to The Unique Sheep. At the same time as I made the name change, Kelly joined me as a business partner so it seemed very fitting that The Unique Sheep officially began with both of us on board!

Thank you again Painty for the interview!

1 comment:

  1. I love both Laura and Kelly - AND their yarns! Their colorways are above and beyond incredible - and because of the Gradiance technique, irresistibly luscious combinations are possible. I loved seeing their yarns used in the new sock book. Bravo! and a heartfelt wish for their continued success.