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Colinton Australia: From humble hobby to fiber bliss

Next week, the Unicorn Fibre team will travel to Columbus, Ohio, for The National NeedleArts Association’s (TNNA’s) Summer NeedleArts Trade Show. We’ll be in Booth 529, but just a few rows over, in Booths 950-952, will be our friend Brandyn Oberhardt of  Colinton Australia. She’s flying in from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, with her line of soft and colorful Unbrushed Mohair yarns.

As our founder and president, Anna Carner Blangiforti, notes, Brandyn has created her line completely from the ground up: “It’s a true life, hard work, gutsy story.”

Brandyn, an American who has lived Down Under since 1993, began raising goats on her farm back in 2004. It was, as she jokes, “an expensive, eccentric hobby.” She simply loves the animals — and was focused more on genetics than on byproducts until her mother, Julie, came in for a visit from the US. Julie, a knitter, suggested that their fiber could be turned into a luxurious, in-demand yarn.

With a lot of research, capital investment and the continuing learning curve, Brandyn and Julie turned a conversation into a national brand and a full-time business.

Although Julie has since retired from the company, she still lends Brandyn a hand whenever she is able. Brandyn’s husband, Steve, and daughters Katelyn and Maegen help out behind the scenes while Brandyn concentrates on evolving and expanding the brand. But the organization has grown to beyond just family members: There’s also a multitude of friends involved in production, test knitting and marketing.

“My first love is the goats; my second would be the challenge of brand and business development,” Brandyn notes. “I’ve learned every other aspect as things went along.”

The Unicorn Connection

In 2008, Brandyn and Julie met Anna at a TNNA show. Anna recalls being intrigued by their booth, “packed with lots of fiber, shawls and toys.”

Brandyn, meanwhile, says that was when she became “hooked” on the Unicorn Fibre and Power Scour lines.

“We love these products for preparing the yarns,” she explains. “In the last couple of years, we’ve had kits, and the Unicorn Fibre Sampler set was such a nice inclusion. Because the products finish the knitted garments so well, it is first thing we suggest to our customers when completing a project: Wash and BLOCK with Unicorn!”

New this year for Colinton Australia is a yarn base that is a 20% silk/80% young goat mohair spun in a 2-ply lace weight. There are also now hand-painted “tonal” versions of some of the company’s color palettes.

“It will be fun to observe the response of some of the new variegated options that I am introducing at the show,” Brandyn adds.

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2 responses »

  1. Thanks, Anna, for the comments on Colinton Australia. Brings back many good memories of the whole evolution of Colinton and the baby angoras. I’m still enjoying knitting with the mohair and am looking forward to my next pair of socks. Will miss seeing you all at TNNA. Have a good show. Fondly, Julie

    Reply
    • unicornfibreteam

      Oh Julie, it was such a pleasure to meet you — and watch in awe as you created some of the most beautiful designs with your mohair — as we talked! Fondly right back, Anna

      Reply

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