Welcome Candice of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers

We’d like you to join us in welcoming Candice English, the brilliant creative behind The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers.  We are so overjoyed to now carry a selection of her yarns at the shop: Squish Fingering, Craggy Tweed DK, and Squish Worsted.  It’s been such a pleasure working with and getting to know Candice!  We hope you’ll find this wonderful post just as inspiring as we have…

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Your story behind your brand is rooted in history.  How did you get started with fiber arts? What motivated you to start dyeing yarn?

My paternal grandmother did about every fiber art you can imagine, her craft room would put all of us to shame! I grew up doing a lot of cross stitching with her and I think the fiber arts was pretty embedded in me. It wasn’t until my early 20s when a friend taught me to knit, I was pregnant with my daughter and I became immediately obsessed. My Mom, sisters, and cousins are all extremely artistic – they can turn nothing into something beautiful. Whether it’s food, buckskin, wood, painting, beading, we all use an instinctual guide to our art. I knew almost nothing about dyeing yarn besides some plant dyeing I had experimented with, but woke up one day to find myself 30 something years old, working 60 hours a week in a corporate job, never seeing my kids, and my marriage kind of falling apart. I had this vision in my head how to put all of this creative energy I had pent up, and knew my color palette was fairly unique. So I dove head first into creating The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers. It was all out of place of desperation, cultural heritage, instinctual creativity, and a passion for knitting and yarn!

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Your yarns are beautiful!  Can you tell us a little more about Squish Fingering, Squish Worsted and Craggy Tweed?

Thank you! Squish Fingering and Squish Worsted are great workhorse yarns. They will basically do just about anything you ask of them. I love them for gift knitting, because they are easy to care for. Craggy Tweed is one of my favorite yarns to knit with, the little tweedy neps are so fun to work up.

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Which patterns do you recommend for these yarns?

There are just so many to choose from these days! My current favorite in my closet and in my queue are Caitlin Hunter’s Ninilchik Swoncho for the Craggy Tweed. I wear that sweater at least three times a week, and I think everyone needs a swoncho! I also have some Squish Fingering stashed away for Caitlin’s Marittimo, it is going to be my Spring time knit! I am also dying to cast on the Nightshift Shawl by Andrea Mowry with some Squish Worsted. Too much to knit, so little time!

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When you’re not dyeing, creating and being all around stellar at running your business, what are some of your other passions and/or hobbies?  Knit, crochet, weave or all of the above?

Knitting of course, I still like to cross stitch once in a while and weaving is so relaxing. I am an avid reader and try to get up to the Mountains as much as I can to hike and explore! It’s my happy place.

We’re always looking for pattern inspiration, what’s currently on your needles or in your queue?

Right now I am currently working on the Rug Sweater by Junko Okamoto, not in FDF yarns but I think it’s important that I do some selfish knitting! Also, I’m desperate to knit everything in the new Winter issue of Pom Pom!

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Favorite thing to listen to/do while you work and/or knit?

I typically watch TV shows and movies when I am knitting and I have been watching a lot of oldies lately. I think it must be the weather! John Wayne and the Cowboys is my current favorite, Lonesome Dove is another classic I watch every December. I just watched Urban Cowboy for the first time last weekend, now I want to take some two-step lessons! And while working, I typically don’t have a lot of background noise, boring but effective for me to stay focused.

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It looks like you’ve had quite the busy last year (we love your studio space!), what’s in store for FDF for next year? 

2018 was such a crazy whirlwind! We have a lot of fun events planned in 2019, our upcoming ones are VKL NYC, Stitches West, another trip to the East Coast in May, and our retreat in June. I am also super excited about some upcoming collaborations in 2019 with my near and dear fiber friends, stay tuned!

We can’t wait for your upcoming announcements!  It’s always such fun and so inspiring to follow along with you on IG – always gorgeous shots of your yarn, projects, and Montana!  Where can our readers find you online?

Thank you! We are so excited to be apart of the Monarch Knitting community!

Instagram @thefarmersdaughterfibers and our website, www.thefarmersdaughterfibers.com

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Welcome Brooke Sinnes

When Brooke Sinnes from the beautiful Napa Valley region, came into our shop a few years ago, we were so happy to meet her and her stunning hand-dyed yarns!  We became instant fans.  Naturally dyed, Brooke’s commitment to using locally sourced wool and fibers along with plants from Northern California are what make her yarns truly special.  We’re so lucky to have such talent within driving distance from our shop!  And extremely fortunate that Brooke is teaching her wonderful Natural Dyeing Workshop at Monarch.  We thought it would be a great opportunity to get to know the maker behind her gorgeous brand, Sincere Sheep…

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How did you get started with fiber arts? Your story behind Sincere Sheep is so inspiring.  What motivated you to start dyeing yarn?

Initially I taught myself how to knit and crochet when I was about 12 years old.  I kept it up through high school and at some point I must have said to my dad that I was interested in learning how to weave.  The summer between high school and college I lived with my dad in Kansas City, Missouri and he noticed that the Kansas City Art Institute had an intro weaving class so I signed up.  When I graduated college and moved back to Berkeley, California I wanted to keep weaving and found classes at the Richmond Art Center. From there I got interested in spinning and went looking for classes.  The woman who taught me to spin was also teaching natural dye classes so I learned how to do that as well.

It was through the discussions that happened in those classes that Sincere Sheep was born.  During that time I moved up to St. Helena and was exposed more to the wine industry. Also during that time the Slow Food movement was really gaining steam and I realized that concepts used to market wine and valued in food, such as terroir and local, could be applied to fiber and natural dyes.  Additionally, at that time, American wool prices were really low. Many small sheep farmers in Sonoma County were choosing to compost, store, or even throw away their wool rather than buy the postage required to send their wool to the local wool pool. The price being paid was so low that it wasn’t worth it.  Through my connections made in my spinning and dyeing classes I was able to purchase wool from local farmers and then I would send it to be processed at Yolo Wool Mill that was located just outside Davis. When the yarn and roving came back to me I naturally dyed it and then put the farm name and the sheep’s name on the label. Now, 15 years on, our primary focus remains single-source, breed-specific and custom-made yarns and fibers. The name of the ranch, location and breed is still identified on our label when it is traceable. We offer a diverse selection of custom made products from relationships with California and US wool growers, and small businesses. We buy our products from producers and companies who follow high standards and work in a sustainable way to support the local economy.

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Your colors are beautiful!  We love that you source local plants to dye your yarn, what are some of your favorites to dye with?

For my business, because I dye such a large volume, I don’t generally use foraged dyes though I do use some when teaching and for personal experiments.  Locally fennel, Queen Anne’s lace, eucalyptus, and California pepper tree are all abundant and give nice yellows and even oranges, in the case of eucalyptus.  I would love to partner with a local farmer to be able to use locally grown dyes in my work. Right now I have a small dye garden where I grow marigolds, weld, coreopsis, indigo, queen Anne’s lace, calendula, Navajo tea, Hopi sunflowers, artichokes, and madder.  For Sincere Sheep I primarily use extracts since they are more efficient.

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When you’re not dyeing, teaching and being an all around rock-star at running your business, what are some of your other passions and/or hobbies? Knit, crochet, weave or all of the above?

Even though knitting, crocheting, weaving, spinning etc. have to do with my business I still consider them my hobbies and would love to spend more time doing them!  I really enjoy sewing and all forms of embroidery. Some of my non-textile interests are reading, seeing movies, and gardening. I love to play cards and board games too!

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We’re always looking for pattern inspiration, what’s currently on your needles or in your queue?

What isn’t on my needles?!? I am trying to knuckle down and finish some projects before starting anything new.  Right now I am finishing a sample of the Veronika Cardigan by Shannon Cook in Cormo Worsted and the Wildberry Shawl by Annie Rowden and Andrea Mowry in Cormo Sport.  I’m teaching some knitting classes at my local shop in Napa so I will be casting on for a second Bousta Beanie (pattern by Gudrun Johnston) for my stranded knitting class, a Lambda Shawl (pattern by Julia Farwell-Clay) for a class on provisional cast on and short rows, and a Metronome Shawl (pattern by Julia Farwell-Clay) for a class on intarsia.

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Wonderful!  We’re so excited to host you this month!  What’s in store for Sincere Sheep this year?  We love sharing events!

My next show is Black Sheep Gathering in Albany, OR at the end of June.  I’m also teaching a series of dye classes at my home studio this summer. This fall I will be a vendor at California Wool and Fiber Festival in Boonville, CA and Lambtown in Dixon, CA. Also in the fall we will open sign ups for our Made Here! 2019 yarn club.

That sounds like a great year ahead!  It’s always such fun and so inspiring to follow along with you on IG + your blog.  Where can our readers find you?

I’m on Instagram as SincereSheep and that is definitely my primary social media outlet.  I’m also on Facebook and Twitter but less regularly. My newsletter subscribers always get the new news first!

So great getting to know more about you, Brooke!  Thanks for indulging all of us – always such a treat!