2023 - our second full year in business, and what a year it was!
Our second 'year in review', hard to believe but here we are! We attended over 2 dozen in person events, sold over 200 pounds of roving, 135,000 yards of yarn, over 700 pounds of wool pellets diverted from the waste stream, processed over a ton of wool for regional farms, innovated, collaborated, and found our footing as a new business.
It still feels like we're at the 'throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks' stage, but that's half the fun. We both love the opportunity to collaborate with customer on a project, develop new products, and innovate creative ways to utilize the bountiful wool in our region.
Here's a quick look at what we got up to this year!
January, February, & March
Island Time Romney Yarn, launched March '23
The first quarter of the year we focused on rolling out our small batch / retail processing services. This has proven to be a really enjoyable part of our work - we meet folks with a few precious fleeces from all over the region, and it's a joy to work with them to turn their fleece into something beautiful and useful.
We spent a good portion of this period processing nearly 300 lbs of Romney fleeces from the San Juan Islands for our first big collaboration - the first batches of our Island Time yarn line were produced in collaboration with Island Fibers of Lopez Island and Abundant Earth Fiber on Whidbey Island. Premium fleeces were hand selected by Island Fibers, we worked with Abundant Earth to develop the various batches (including fan favorite lamb edition), and the reception to this amazing hyper-local yarn absolutely blew us away.
We furthered our connections to the San Juan Islands by presenting at the SJI Agricultural Summit - our topic was 'The Changing Tides of Agriculture: Opportunities for Fiber Producers'. Connecting with local fiber farmers and coming up with creative solutions for their fiber when none was available to them before is truly an honor.
April, May, June
Anna & Jess at their first outdoor Valley Made Market of the year, April '23
The beginning of Spring means outdoor market season! We hustled from show to show, market to market the second quarter of the year. Highlights included our first Whidbey Spin-In, Fiber Fusion, and our workshop produced in collaboration with Cloud Mountain Farms - Fleece & Fiber Preparation & Evaluation.
We put a big emphasis on getting our wool pellets out into as many hands as possible, handing out samples, informational postcards, and discussing the many benefits of this zero-waste product.
We also graced the cover of a locally produced magazine and got some snazzy photos out of the deal too! It was quite humbling to meet many folks who'd read the article and were interested in what we were doing. Local media for small businesses like ours is a huge benefit!
July, August, & September
Dyed Coopworth roving for Flock Fiber Festival, August '23
One benefit of processing in the summer is that the washed fleeces dry so much faster! But the downside is...our mill is an oven, and it can get quite hot to work in. So we processed as much as we could while prepping for some fun in-person events.
The inaugural Flock Fiber Festival in Seattle was not originally on our schedule, but the opportunity came up to attend as vendors, and we are so very glad we did. The community really embraced us with open arms, and while we weren't sure if our offerings would fit in at such a big event, our booth proved to be a constantly lively and fun place for folks to learn about our products and what we offer the fiber community.
We also held our first 'Summer Wool School' at the mill, and it was a blast! We held different classes and workshops throughout August and got a feel for what it's like to teach our style of class (more hands on and exploratory). We really enjoy it! Our popular 'Spinning Wheel Spa Day' is something we know we'll bring back again, along with beginning spinning classes and fleece & fiber evaluation and preparation.
October, November & December
'Katie's Kep' featuring our first Shetland yarn 'Thistledown', November '23
The final quarter of the year we prepped for our first holiday markets and wrapped up some larger custom processing jobs. We attended our first International Quilt Show showcasing our newest product, wool quilt batts.
We finally got to launch a very special yarn project, 'Thistledown', our very own Shetland yarn from local farms. It was a labor of love and we enjoyed every minute, from developing the colors to dialing in the spin with Abundant Earth Fiber. We're so proud of this local yarn, and of the relationships we built to produce it. Many thanks to everyone that has supported these efforts thus far!
Our last big event at the mill was our (now annual!) Open House & Mill Tour, which we spread over two days, and had helpers both days to ensure a fun experience for everyone. We got to see so many old and new friends, did several demos and showcased what we love most about being a part of this fiber community - sharing our love of the regions' natural fibers and encouraging a new group of 'wool ambassadors'.
We've got a few larger custom processing jobs to kick things off in the new year, some new products to R&D, new packaging to roll out our wool pellets in a bigger way, and much more. We've said from the beginning that being able to pivot would be to our advantage, and this past year we really put that to good use - and will likely do so again in the coming year! We just never know what opportunities will present themselves, so we stay open to them all as much as we can.
Thank you for reading and for being a part of our fiber family. We're so honored to do this work with you.
Jess, Anna, and Rosie
Jess & Anna gracing the cover of the local newspaper (twice in one week!)