Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you sell?
My wholesale customers are loyal independent business owners, art galleries focused on American made work, well respected museum stores, and businesses with an eco-environmental focus. I encourage you to visit and shop at the one near you. These folks do a great job creating interesting commercial spaces in their local community that offer a meaningful presence, regular shop hours, and in-person service. We are a small and growing, production studio. I sell online in my own shop, and at various shows and events. I have always believed my products sell best in person, so I have developed relationships with wonderful, select retailers across the USA since 2001. If you are wishing for something not shown in my shop but you know I’ve made it in the past, contact me.
Your stuff would be great in my store. Can I get wholesale info?
Yes! Please check out my catalogue to see the items I currently wholesale, and contact me for further information. I have been wholesaling my work since 2001. I look forward to hearing from you!
Do you teach classes?
Classes or Workshops, when available, are listed on the Events page.
Do you keep sheep?
No, I am not a shepherd, other than to the ones I make in the studio, and those are often with me just a short while.
Where do you get all your wool fabrics?
In 1998 I started my business working exclusively with post consumer sweaters. Sweaters made in the 1980s and early 1990s were vibrant, heavily patterned, and abundant along with middle class wealth/opportunity. Thrift stores were full of less fashionable and desirable sweaters. Around 2008/9, along with the financial crash which solidified the big box retailer and hastened the closing of the mall as the middle class shopping zone, 80-100% wool sweaters became harder to find. If they are not made at the first level, they do not cycle down to the used market. I introduced virgin wool fabrics about this time. I primarily source virgin wool fabrics from Pendleton® Woolen Mills with whom I have a Fabric Use Agreement, and other USA woolen mills and suppliers.
Where do you get all those different wools for the little sheep you make?
Since 1998, I have purchased raw wool fleece directly from shepherds in Oregon and across the USA. There are as many breeds of sheep as there are breeds of dogs. Different wools have different uses, and different breeds do better in different climates. The fleeces I buy for my work are hand spinning quality. That means they are free of vegetal matter, matting, breaks, or other problems, thanks to the significant efforts of shepherds who take care to grow such lovely fiber. Each fleece can weigh anywhere from 1.5 to 10 lbs. when it is shorn. After washing, the fleeces will weigh less (sometimes as much as 40% less) since the grease and dirt will be removed.
Are there any 100% American wools in your products?
Yes. The wools I source from shepherds are 100% American, and the yarns used to embroider the felted ball ornaments are 100% American. The wool for the embroidery comes from sheep raised in the American Southwest, the wool is then scoured in the Southeast, and finally carded, spun and dyed in the Midwest. Pendleton Woolen Mills also sources raw wool from American shepherds.
Are most of your things One-of-a-Kind (OOAK) or done in multiples?
My studio is a production studio; this is my “work”. It is also a place of creative expression. I am always exploring and testing the limits of what is art vs. what is labor. There is an argument to be made that most of human history has been driven by an ethos to get rid of the demands and necessity of labor. If we can’t do that, then the next best thing is to treat it disrespectfully, like paying non-living wages in domestic or foreign locations, or ignoring the value of the contribution altogether (like caring for children, elderly or disabled family members, cleaning houses or offices, or paying adjunct faculty less than living wages). I have many good ideas about PhD worthy subjects to study on this topic of disrespecting labor, especially in our global economy! I may explore some on a blog one day, but for now, back to the more immediate topic - Are my things unique, OOAK, or mass produced?
Although I may make hundreds of particular design, and although thousands of individual products leave my hands each year, most of the materials coming into the studio, whether post-consumer or virgin, are not available on a continuous basis. Add to this that I over-dye fabrics, felts and yarns, and the result is lots of variations of color and pattern in each item and most items are not usually exactly repeat-able beyond several dozen. We are working on greater repeat-ability, as this is the nature of business growth, and we are tempted by that next level of production for economies of scale. But unlike the manufacturer-distributer-box-or vanity brand multi-national-retailer, we don’t produce based on algorithms and numbers and contracts. We produce based on being humans, working with our hands. (Right now the “we” is just me and my husband.)
Thus, if you see something that you really like, it is best to get-that-one-now as it very well may not show up exactly just-like-that-again.
Do you use glue?
Rarely. The use of glue is avoided as much as possible. Sometimes I need a dab (under a SnowFolk ornament hat, for example) but that’s about it. Machine sewing, hand sewing and needle felting are the techniques I use 99.9% of the time.
Is the studio really zero waste?
Yes, I reclaim 99% of all scrap, cuffs, collars, seams, selvages, bits of yarn, felt and fiber. This waste is “reclaimed” and used in the production of new items. When it comes to sending stuff to landfills, the only trash that exits my studio about every six to seven weeks is a vacuum bag, some thread scrap from the machine sewing, and some bits of leather. There are some things that come into the studio that cannot be recycled, like those little colored plastic tags from pricing guns used to tag thrift store items, and it pains me to send these to the garbage (aka landfill or ocean), because they appear to be food to unsuspecting fish, but they do go out in the trash along with the vacuum bag. Water is also a waste product from my studio, and currently this waste goes through my community’s public water treatment system. Paper is recovered in my local curbside pick up as well.
Do you make everything yourself?
I am the maker and designer behind all of my products. I get assistance with production tasks like cutting, tagging, and inventory management and even making certain parts and items, from my husband, Jonathan. Jon makes all the ball blanks from the waste wool, and Jon has even added needle felting to his skill list! Two friends, highly skilled and who create their own wonderful works, helped out on occasion in the past. My work is physical, material, and not digitally reproduce-able or endlessly repeatable with a faster chip. I am learning that assistance helps me to expand my offerings and enlarge my zero-waste practice, permits me to teach needle felting skills, and stretch beyond wool with an aim toward zero waste with other materials. I am grateful.