Can you tell us about the different bases O-wool has to offer? Do you have a favorite??
I feel like choosing a favorite yarn base is like admitting you have a favorite child... I feel guilty about it. However, in confidence, I will admit right now I am obsessed with my newest yarn called Chunky Merino. It's a big, fat, chunky 100% organic merino 2-ply and knits up like a soft, fluffy dream. It also has the dreamiest palette - really gorgeous, weird, muted colors. I envisioned this being a great sweater yarn, so I went with a more wearable color palette to start.
I'm also very fond of my yarn called Local. This yarn is a labor of love. I drive around to small family alpaca farms about an hour radius of Philadelphia, buy their clip, load it into the truck and take it home. Once I have about 500 lbs, I "skirt" it all (unroll the fleece, remove the dirt and yucky hairs, roll it back up). This takes one filthy, exhausting weekend. And then I stuff it all into big freight bags on pallets (more filthy, tiring hours), and send it off to be scoured, spun, skeined and dyed!
My O-Wash Fingering and O-Wash Sport line I am so proud of. This is a highly unique yarn for handknitters - it is essentially organic superwash merino. So it is organic, machine-washable, crazy soft and has gorgeous colors. I hope to offer dk, worsted and chunky weights in the next couple of years. Superwash is so popular, so I think it's important to offer an organic alternative in every weight.
In addition to Chunky Merino, I have two other classic 100% organic merino yarns that have been workhorses in the O-Wool line for many years. Classic Worsted is the flagship O-Wool yarn, and Legacy Bulky is not far behind. This stuff wears like no other. I call it "bomb-proof". Whatever you make in these yarns, if you take good care of it you will have it for years and years. I hear from folks who knit their kids sweaters in this yarn years ago, have passed it along to other children, and it still looks amazing.
And then there's the most popular O-Wool kid - Balance! This yarn has been so popular because it is a really unique and useful yarn. It is 50% certified organic cotton and 50% certified organic merino in a light worsted weight. When dyed, it has this fantastic tweedy look to it. The cotton makes it great for Fall and Spring items and also makes it very soft and cool to the touch - folks love it for baby stuff. There's also Balance Bulky, which is the same thing in a bulky weight for folks like me who like a quick knit.
Where can we find your yarn?
I mainly sell O-Wool through my website o-wool.com, but I am also a vendor at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival every October in Rhinebeck, NY, and I do a pop-up at Knothouse Yarns in Frederick, MD during Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in May. I know some folks find it hard to buy yarn online, but I sell shade cards for all the colors in every line, and am totally into answering emails like, "is the color Oyster Mushroom more of a pink, or a beige, or a grey?"
I am blown away by how you have been able to keep your yarns organic, cruelty-free, environmentally friendly and processed here in America. On top of all that, they are very fairly priced. What do you feel has been the most challenging aspect of this?
Educating my customers, processors and suppliers about what can and does go into making O-Wool has been the biggest challenge. Also, not compromising on any of the above-mentioned issues can be challenging. I have a Frequently Asked Questions card you can download on my website that I update periodically, and I am as transparent as possible about every step of O-Wool sourcing and production - I encourage everyone to read through it. Many folks assume that I have a sheep farm, have my own mill, and hand dye all of the yarns with natural dyes. Let me tell you - this is my DREAM! However, there are many lovely folks who offer that product, and O-Wool offers something different. O-Wool supports commercial sheep farmers who have chosen to undergo the difficult and expensive process of becoming certified organic. O-Wool supports some of the very few remaining spinning mills in the USA in hopes of reviving the USA textile industry (and I will say my mills have become exponentially busier over the course of the last 5 years, so things are looking up!!). And O-Wool supports commercial dyehouses in the USA for the same reason. I actually don't use the term cruelty-free to describe my products anymore, because I want folks to understand the nuances of the lives of animals being raised in certified organic husbandry instead of reading that phrase and making a snap decision. So read through my FAQ card to learn more! https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0155/0473/files/O-Wool-FAQ-Card.pdf?7089696914339681033
What advice would you give to people out there wanting to follow their creative dreams?
This is probably some sobering, un-inspiring advice but I think it's important. If your dream is to be an entrepreneur in an art/design/craft realm, then take some business classes in additional to your art and design education. I have a BS in Studio Art and did 3 semesters coursework in a Textile Design and Engineering graduate program. All of this education was truly priceless for informing the creative half of my business, but it took 3 years and some expensive lessons to learn how to do the other half - the business half. So balance your creative and business learning!
What is your spirit animal?
A PitBull! Because they are very loving, kind, loyal, enthusiastic and resilient. And sometimes hyper and annoying :)
What is your favorite noise?
The cacophony of a huge band of starlings hanging out in the trees above my house.
Thank you so much, Jocelyn, for taking the time to tell us more about O-Wool today!!