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10% Off Select Products through December! December 04 2017
We're celebrating the holiday season with 10% off our shawl pins, stitch marker necklaces, fiber arts earrings, & chili pepper stitch markers! Use code 4EWE2.
Follow us on Social Media for Updates October 03 2017
With the newest addition to our family, little Josephine Marie Reeder, we have our hands full and aren't keeping up on the blog like we wish we could. Social media is a little easier for us as it can be done one-handed, so come follow us on Instagram or like us on Facebook to see the latest!
Thank You! November 26 2016
Get $5 off orders over $25 with code SMALLBIZ16. It's our way of saying thanks!
- the whole Dyers Wool family
Lots of New Products November 15 2016
If you haven't been following us on social media, you've been missing out on our new products! There's just not enough hours in the day (less now that it's fall), and I'm only now getting around to this blog post. Sheesh!
This summer, we came up with a new way to dye our Colorado-grown yarns that would allow us to more intricately hand-paint them and still avoid plastic. We avoid using plastic wrap or bags in the heat-setting of our dyes because we don't want our homes or our yarn filled with chemicals that result from heating plastic. Using non-toxic "acid" dyes - meaning they're set with vinegar - we hand-dye all our yarns in our home kitchens and want to keep everything safe for ourselves, our family, and our customers. Anyway, with the new method, we were able to create six new colorways in our sock and bulky yarns. Here's a peak at the three sock colorways:
Some of those colorways were so lovely we decided to dye some of our new Colorado-grown Rambouillet combed top, and are offering the natural as well as the dyed top:
The third new and exciting product is not a new product, per se, but an improvement on an existing one. Our stitch marker necklaces (charm necklaces whose charms are stitch markers) were previously offered in two styles - one with the charms on a chain and one with a large clasp on a cotton cord. Now we have added a sterling silver clasp to the chain version, for much easier use of the stitch markers:
That's it for now. Keep your eyes open for our upcoming promotion for Small Business Saturday (Nov 26)!
Thanks & take care!
Salida Fiber Festival September 21 2016
We had another great year at the Salida Fiber Festival. It's such a lovely town and we enjoy the trip as a business vacation.
Our littlest helper entertained herself during booth take-down by turning packing tubes into Barbie launchers! It was pretty entertaining for all of us.
We always stop at the top of Wolf Creek Pass to stretch our legs on the trip to and from Salida. Gorgeous scenery up there!
Thanks for reading!
What's New? Lots! July 10 2016
Wow, it's been a long time since our last blog post. Sorry about that, but we've been just a little busy. Most of you probably have seen the news on our Facebook feed, but last year the Reeder family part of Dyers Wool moved to a new farm. It's about 45 minutes from the Dyer family farm, southeast of Durango. There was a nice house, but no farm infrastructure so we have been busy building barns and fences, planting trees and gardens, and just generally working our tails off. This move required both the Dyer and Reeder families to manage with not only a household but a farm to move.
First thing first, we built a nice big chicken coop.
Then we built a sheep shed. Obviously we were racing the weather.
We had one of the biggest winters we've had in quite a few years. That was challenging, but nice to see the moisture.
We managed to sneak over to SW Utah to enjoy some adventures before spring got into full swing.
It's amazing country.
We ordered in 20 new chicks to boost our egg production.
We're using electric netting for now.
Another set of cute black lambs this year. This is Ramsey.
All in all, we feel very blessed in our new home.
This year's wool has just returned from the mill and we have several new products to share with you soon, so follow us on Facebook for timely updates and I'll try to keep the blog updated.
Thanks for reading - take care!
Coupon Code November 26 2015We want to thank our wonderful customers and friends by offering a coupon for $5 off orders over $28 from November 26 through December 1 using the code SMALLBIZ. Available on both our website and Etsy shop. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Oodles of Lambs! May 24 2015
Warning: the following article contains insane amounts of cuteness. View at your own risk.
We anxiously awaited the arrival of lambs this spring, schedule for the end of April, because we were using two new rams this year. Our new Navajo Churro ram is what's called a black and tan: he is solid black on most of his body, with a light tan belly and markings on his face. Our new Shetland ram is solid black.
We started the lambing season off with a bang when Claire, our moorit Shetland ewe, had two gorgeous black ewe lambs. Over the span of one week, the Reeder's half of Dyers Wool was done with lambing: three black ewes, one gray ewe, and two gray ram lambs. The Dyer's half of Dyers Wool didn't even start lambing until almost a week later, with the delivery of three lambs in one day: one white Shetland ram, one black Shetland ram, and one gorgeous black Churro ewe. A week later, the last ewe, a brown Churro, had healthy twin dark brown ewe lambs. What a great crop of lambs this year! Photo time!
Claire and her twin Shetland ewe lambs, Fiona and Frankie (top). Fiona relaxing with a full belly (bottom left). Claire gifted us with twin gray Shetland lambs, Fergus the ram and Fergie the ewe (bottom right).
Caelee gave us the only white Shetland lamb this year, a cute little ram (left). Bonnie, our moorit Shetland ewe, had a gorgeous black ram lamb (top right). Fergie and Fergus enjoying some pasture time (bottom right).
Our gorgeous black Churro ewe lamb, Flora.
Our two dark brown Churro ewe lambs, Fata and Fala, are so dark in color, you can't tell they're not black except in the brightest sunlight.
Every evening, the lambs go wild and we get to enjoy crazy lamb races!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the season!
What's in a Name? - Red Mesa Heritage Blend Yarn April 18 2015
We've talked about the wool that went into our Red Mesa Heritage Blend Yarn, a 50/50 mix of Colorado-grown Corriedale and Tunis, but we haven't explained why we call it Red Mesa Heritage Blend. Well, there's a story there; it's a story of location and community. Red Mesa is a town just south of the main Dyers Wool farm, but it's also the name for the general area and surrounding community. The town is not what it used to be - it used to be a thriving dryland farming hub, but now it doesn't even have a post office. Yet there's something about the people here that makes it special. It's not the easiest place to live, as it's called the "Dryside" for the lack of abundant water, but somehow I think that makes the people stronger and kinder. They are good people, good neighbors, and good friends.
An old, abandoned beanery north of Red Mesa is a testament to the former thriving agriculture in the area.
We didn't just name the yarn after the area we farm. The name Red Mesa also invokes the flavor of our region. We are lucky to live and farm between the Colorado mountains to the north, and the Southwest desert to the south, and we enjoy visiting both places. In just a few hours drive, we can visit Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico, Cedar Mesa in Utah, or Monument Valley in Arizona/Utah. The canyons draw us, for both their beauty and the treasures they hold. My husband, Trent, and I are both archaeologists by training, and our love for our region's history takes us, and the family, on wandering adventures in remote canyons.
Chaco Canyon is one of our favorite places to visit in the winter.
The canyons and the desert vistas are so inspirational in their myriad colors. A desert sunset is a vibrant, awesome event, and we're blessed with more such vistas than we stop to appreciate. Desert dawn is one of my favorite times, and a summer monsoon storm drastically changes the desert landscape's colors and scents. Plants in the desert are wise, hardy creatures whose beauty is most visible in their ability to endure, yet when the conditions are right and the rains have come, they'll burst into bloom and amaze us with their vibrancy.
Our rainbow of desert-inspired colors.
There is inspiration also in the knowledge that our feet are not the first to walk these paths, and you can feel the echos of the past when you spot a broken pottery sherd alongside the trail, or your eye catches the faint outline of a pecked symbol in the cliff-face. There is history in this area, and deep mysteries. It is humbling.
Hand prints in Cedar Mesa. Could any of these hands be those of ancient spinners and weavers?
There's another story to our yarn - it was made possible by the support of our community of friends. The heritage Tunis wool is raised by our friend, John, who lives just up the road from the main Dyers Wool farm. Actually, he's more than just a friend - he's my former Wildland Fire Captain, from when I volunteered for the local fire department. This man exemplifies what I was talking about when I said the people in the Red Mesa area are amazing. I developed immense respect for him when serving with him on the fire department, and literally trust him with my life. I know if I ever needed help with ANYTHING at all, he would be there. He also has a great sense of humor.
The Corriedale wool came from our friend and fellow spinning guild member, Pam (there are too many Pams in the area that work with wool!), who lives on the eastern edge of our county. Her sheep enjoy lush pastures and great health at the base of the gorgeous HD Mountains. The fiber she produces is amazing - she is a former operator of a fiber mill, so she KNOWS her fiber!
Then there are a few other members of the local spinning guild who have really contributed to this yarn. Branding this yarn, from blend name to label to colorway names, would not have been possible without the copious advice and feedback from our wonderful French-bulldog-loving friend, Sheila (credit for the "Red Mesa" brand name goes to her husband). Thanks again, Sheila!
There were many renditions of the labels, with EXCELLENT feed back from Sheila, before we settled on these.
Lastly (but not least), are our friends who, when the yarn came back from the mill, we gave a skein of the new yarn to try out and play with. We needed feedback and they jumped into projects with the yarn almost immediately. They gave us great, and honest, responses, which helped us improve packaging and figure out the labeling, description, and advertising of the yarn. Most amazingly to me, two of them knit up their yarn into projects that they then GAVE back to us to be used as display pieces - thank you Susan and Carole!
Susan's gorgeous shawl in our Desert Rose sport weight yarn.
Carole's super fun Dr. Who-themed hat. (The Tardis is easily seen on the side, but there are also Daleks on the top!)
We really are blessed with an amazing community of neighbors, wool-growers, fellow fiber-artists, and friends. That is why the name of our community as the brand name of the yarn was so fitting. We see ourselves as more than just a retail fiber shop - we try to provide unique products with important stories of friendship, community, sustainability, and history, and encourage or support other fiber-producers however we can. I hope the inspiration we find in our community and the desert southwest inspires you in turn.
Thanks for reading and happy spring!
Our Sock Yarn is Here! January 30 2015
Remember when we sent off that crazy amount of gorgeous Corriedale and Tunis from our local-farmer friends back in July? We have spent the last week anxiously waiting to see the delivery guy coming down our driveway after receiving a call from the wool mill that our sock yarn was READY! Equal parts anxiety and excitement had us wringing our hands, but when it arrived it exceeded our expectations. Fantastically processed, it is just begging to be made into socks, sweaters, shawls, etc. in a rainbow of colors - including the natural bright ivory. Made of 75% Colorado Corriedale & Tunis wool and 25% nylon, it is durable yet surprisingly soft. Its softness isn't an alpaca or Merino kind of smooth soft, but instead a lofty, plush soft. The bloom on this yarn is amazing - it's really pushing into the sport range of yarn.
I assume many of you have encountered Corriedale wool in your fiber explorations, but let me give you a quick history of the breeds of wool we used in our yarn. The Corriedale breed has long been a favorite of Pam's, and she has infected me with the same love; indeed, Corriedale was the first wool I was able to successfully spin. They were developed in New Zealand out of Merino, English Lincoln Longwool, and Leicester stock, and are known for producing an excellent spinning fiber of generous staple length that translates into a great, elastic yarn. Tunis is one of the oldest indigenous breeds in the United States, is relatively rare as recorded by the Livestock Conservancy, and was preferred by Thomas Jefferson over Merinos. Containing Leicester Longwool and Southdown genetics, this background gives Tunis fiber its soft and bouncy hand, qualities which it has lent to this sock yarn. (Much of the breed information is from Clara Parkes's The Knitter's Book of Wool.)
We plan to sell it in 3.5 oz hanks as well as 1 lb cones.
Look at how nice that yarn is! It is 2-ply.
Using a US size 2 or 3 needle, there are 6 stitches per inch.
Can you believe we sent in this...
...and got back this?
We are looking forward to dyeing up some of the yarn in a nice variety of colors, and have already started playing around with some fun colors. Additionally, we are going to do a little quality assurance for the yarn's performance and durability - we want to know as much as possible about this wool so we can share that knowledge with you. Once we have run this yarn through its paces, we'll get it up on the website for you to enjoy!
Thanks for reading!
Holiday Gift Guide 2014 December 02 2014
Have a wonderful holiday season, and stay warm!
- Kelsey & the Dyers Wool family
It's Time to Spin November 04 2014
Fall is definitely here. Frost has put the garden to bed for the year, and there's snow on the mountains. We had a great year for tomatoes and peppers, which we stored for the winter by freezing, canning, and dehydrating.
I find myself gravitating toward my spinning wheel now, despite the fact I should be making inventory for the holiday season, cleaning the always-dirty house, or doing some other tangibly productive activity. Going back to my wheel and spinning is such a soothing activity in light of how busy we have been. I always look forward to winter days when there's a fire in the fireplace, snow flurries outside, and I can sit down and do some spinning. My husband laughingly says Sundays are a good day for me to spin, because football is on TV and I wouldn't have the attention-span to sit and watch it with him if I weren't spinning. The sheep are all nice and snug in their warm fleeces - it is always amazing to see the frost on them early in the morning - and that makes my fingers itch to spin up some warm handspun for winter hats and gloves.
I've enjoyed working with some of our dark brown Corriedale roving, which spins up like a dream, but now I'm clearing off my bobbins for my true passion - our homegrown Shetland wool. I finished plying some of our shaela (charcoal) wool from last year (from Caprica, the dark ewe in the above photo). It is such an easy spin, and one of my favorite colors. This year's crop looks to be as nice as last year's.
I'm very conscious about the quality of our Shetland roving, as I'm constantly evaluating our breeding program and many mills seem to have trouble processing Shetland fiber well. We've had it come back from the mill with noils, which could be on the mill's end from over-carding or -washing, or on our end from wool quality or biological issues (mites etc.). Additionally, our Shetlands do experience a "rise" of their wool, which is a historic trait of the breed that allowed Shetland shepherds to "roo," or pull/comb out, their sheep's wool instead of shearing. If we don't time shearing just right, we can get a natural break in the wool before or after shearing. Then there's always the vegetable matter, or VM, issue in roving as we don't coat our animals. Some fleeces just seem to attract VM, and the silly ram lambs sit in their hay while eating! It's enough to drive a shepherd mad!
With the limited number of Shetland sheep we have, and the small fleece sizes, we use a small mill who is willing to do small batches of each color for us, but small mills just don't have the capabilities of the larger ones. With all these concerns, it's always nice to evaluate the wool through spinning, even though we've gotten very good at judging the wool quality when we open up the shipping boxes fresh back from the mill. Anything that doesn't meet our quality standards is relegated to felting, woven roving pot holders, or pillow stuffing, although we do expect fellow spinners and fiber artists to understand our roving did come from a live farm animal and is not combed top. (On the subject of combed top, we feel that would be a disservice to Shetland fiber, as its beauty is in a woolen spin.)
I was a little leery when I sat down to spin some of our moorit (brown) Shetland roving from our ewes, Bonnie and Claire. I could tell it was nice and soft, and I knew the fiber staple was 4+ inches (I can't spin short fibers well), but there were some visible noils and VM. Not horrible, but when you only have two moorit ewes, it's tough to see your precious brown wool come back anything less than perfect. I started to spin, and a minute into it I was very, very happy; it was a great spin! The VM tended to fall out as I spun, and what didn't was easy to pick out, and the noils were very easy to pick out of the wool or even the yarn. That was a very different experience of noils than I've had in the past, and it hardly slowed me down. It spun as fast as the Corriedale roving, and soon I had a full bobbin.
Next I have my eye on the gorgeous gray roving from Cameron and Chloe. I had written off their fleeces as too coarse, but it came back from the mill as a lusciously soft, luminous gray shot through with darker (albeit, coarser) fibers. There are some noils visible in it, but I'm hoping they'll be as easy to handle as in the moorit roving. I'm watching the weather report, looking for the next nice spinning day - wind, snow, freezing temperatures, and maybe some football. It's time to spin.
Thanks for reading!
Magazines & Taos October 10 2014 1 Comment
It's been a busy month since the Salida Fiber Festival at the beginning of September. Our cards were featured in Victoria Magazine's October issue, which came out in mid-September. We were busy getting ready for the Wool Festival at Taos, and then had amazing interest in the cards and have had to keep making the cards to keep up with orders. A good problem to have, right? The Wool Festival at Taos was a spectacular weekend and fiber-enthusiasts came out in huge numbers. Our locker hooking kits, dyed and natural Corriedale and Navajo Churro roving, sheep earrings, shawl pins, and stitch marker necklaces were extremely popular. I guess I know what we'll be doing for the next few weeks - making products to restock our inventory!
Isn't that the cutest product photo? We are honored they wanted to showcase our notecards!
We couldn't have fit more into the trailer for the Wool Festival at Taos!
We were so busy on Saturday, right from the moment we opened, that we hardly had a chance to sit down. Grandpa Jim watched Abby, Pam demonstrated locker hooking and fielded technical questions, and Trent and I were the cashiers. On times like this, I'm very glad this is a family effort!
Abby was exhausted by all the excitement and fell asleep in her chair behind the booth. I wanted a nap, too!
On a sad note, Lucy, our guardian dog, passed away over the weekend. Thank you so much for being a great farm companion and protecting our sheep for over a decade (from predators as well as whirlwinds, thunder, and bunnies). We'll miss you, good girl! Rest in peace.
Thanks to all our customers for your support online and at the wool festivals, and thank YOU for reading!
A Great Salida Fiber Festival September 12 2014 1 Comment
Many thanks to all the Salida Fiber Festival volunteers, our customers, and our locker hooking students this past weekend! It was a great festival, with amazing attendance, and even the weather cooperated (it was a bit windy, and some storms threatened but never really rained). Our Colorado-grown roving was a huge hit, and everyone loved accessorizing their woolen items with our handmade shawl pins. Looks like we'll be busy this month restocking our inventory for the Wool Festival at Taos!
We packed as much into our 10 x 10 booth as possible.
See all that gorgeous hand-dyed Corriedale roving? We should have done more; it was almost gone by the end of Saturday!
Vertical displays are the only way to go with all our diverse products.
Pam's class on locker hooking went well. Between the class and her demo on Sunday, we have many more people "hooked" on locker hooking (sorry, I couldn't help myself with that pun).
Thanks again to everyone - especially our helpers, Jim, Trent, and Abby - and to you for reading!
Awards at the County Fair! August 15 2014 1 Comment
Last weekend was the La Plata County Fair, and my mom (Pam) and I entered a few things we had created during the year. We do it more just to support the fiber arts and local fiber groups, but appreciate getting feedback on our work at the same time. I was very proud of my mom for winning the Grand Champion ribbon for the weaving division with her handwoven pillow made from handspun, homegrown Navajo Churro wool. There were some amazing weaving entries this year, which is part of the reason I'm so proud!
Handwoven pillow made from handspun, homegrown Navajo Churro wool - natural and hand-dyed colors.
I've been spinning for seven years now, and was very excited to win the Reserve Grand Champion ribbon for the yarn division, along with the Best Use of Local Wool award!
The yarn was spun with fawn-colored Shetland lamb roving. This lamb (Edward) was born moorit/brown, and faded to nearly white by his first shearing. The Shetland colors are so fascinating! (Don't get me started on Shetland sheep genetics...)
Additionally, at the urging of my mother and my friend, Carole, I entered one of my stitch marker necklaces in the jewelry division of the fair. It won not only first-place in necklaces, but Judges' Choice award as well. Apparently, the judge was amazed at how nicely I do my loops. I am very flattered, and it's nice to have my hard work recognized; I work very hard on getting my loops just right and the edges tucked away because of their intended use as stitch markers.
Thanks for stopping by - take care! :-)
I found it pretty exciting to send off over 250 lbs of wool off to the mill to be made into yarn, but maybe that excitement was because we were done skirting, sorting, and packaging 250 lbs of wool! It was a lot of work, but it will be so fun to get the yarn back. The yarn will be a 50/50 Corriedale/Tunis* blend, and will be available in a worsted yarn and a sock yarn with 25% nylon for durability. We will offer the yarn in plain and dyed 4 oz. skeins.
Both the Corriedale and Tunis fleeces were grown by farmer/friends near us in Colorado.
The Corriedale fleeces are so gorgeous!
I forget the exact numbers, but I think it was about 20 fleeces each of Corriedale and Tunis. That's a LOT of skirting!
* The Tunis sheep is one of the oldest indigenous breeds in the U.S., and were preferred by Thomas Jefferson over Merinos. They are a heritage breed listed on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy: http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/tunis. The wool is soft to medium, semi-lustrous, and resists felting.
Thanks for reading!
Lambing is Done! May 18 2014
Lambing started May 1st with a double-header - one lamb in the morning and the next in the afternoon. To top it all off, I had a board meeting to attend that evening. It was a busy day. Two-and-a-half weeks later, and we were done with lambing. Yay!
This was Chloe's first lambing, and she did a great job. She had her little white ram lamb, Eddie, up and nursing in 20 minutes.
This handsome little guy is Ewan, out of Panda and Cameron. He is such a friendly little guy, and his pattern is so much fun! We expect he'll go gray, but he carries brown through his mother.
This was Claire's first lambing, too, and she didn't have as easy a time as her sister, Chloe. I had no inkling she was carrying twins, but sadly one of the twins didn't make it. The surviving twin, Elsa (Frozen the movie, anyone? our toddler named this one), is a gorgeous brown katmoget ewe lamb.
Gwen saved the best for last this lambing season. She has always twinned before, but this year she had a single ewe lamb, Eun (Gaelic for 'little bird'; pron. "En"). We've been waiting for a ewe lamb out of Gwen and McIntosh, and Eun did not disappoint. Her fleece is a soft, luminous white.
Nothing like a late-Spring snowfall. The lambs enjoyed it!
Happy Easter April 20 2014
Our Easter was festive with apple blossoms and homegrown and hand-dyed Easter eggs.
Our homegrown eggs - pink dyed with homegrown beets, yellow dyed with turmeric, and green/blue naturally colored.
Fingers crossed we get some apples this year despite the cold weather, especially from our Almata apple. Pink-skinned and -fleshed, it makes the most beautiful applesauce!
Packing Day March 20 2014
The fleeces are all skirted and sorted, so today we packed them up to be sent off and processed into roving. It's a lot of work, but very exciting to know that this year's crop of fleeces will soon be back and ready!
One of our Navajo Churro ewes, Amber, had the most amazing staple - 14" in length or so. That is why it is so important to send our wool to a mill who won't cut the long-stapled wools.
Happy spring, everyone!
Shearing Day 2014 March 18 2014
It was a cold and windy day this year for shearing day. We all bundled up as much as possible and had Abby (our toddler) sit in the dog house out of the wind. Our friend, Susan, came and helped us, thankfully! Nick, our shearer, did a great job as usual. I didn't take as many photos as usual, because my fingers didn't want to work in the cold. I felt a little bad taking the sheep's coats off on such a day, but I think they're a lot tougher than I am!
I was excited to see my moorit (brown) Shetland ewe, Claire, hasn't faded. This is her second shearing and her fleece is definitely dual, but soft and wavy.
Caprica, our shaela (steel gray) Shetland cross ewe, had another gorgeous fleece. I thought she would coarsen by her second year, but her fleece is still soft, crimpy, and has great staple length. Hers is a single-coated fleece.
We were please with our Shetland ram's (McIntosh) soft, wavy, pearly fleece. Shearing day is like Christmas!
Take care and stay warm!