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More Experiments!

People are always doing good side by side comparisons using Unicorn Fibre Products. Here are a few recent ones!

A very thorough video from FluffyReviews with Unicorn Power Scour vs another wool wash on a gorgeous Cormo Fleece.

There are many washed lock photos on our Facebook page!

Thanks everyone, for putting our Unicorn Fibre products to the test and sharing the results!

Meet Our Unicorn Dealers–Camaj Fiber Arts!

Meet Our Unicorn Dealers–Camaj Fiber Arts!

It was my great pleasure to interview Mary Egbert from Camaj Fiber Arts. Even more so since she and I have met in person on a few occasions at the TNNA trade shows. And, she sent us a wonderful entry for our video and blog post contest a while back. Also, her products are BEAUTIFUL!

batt 1

Unicorn Fibre: Hi Mary, how goes it? Even thought we’ve met, I don’t know the backstory of your company, so this is a nice treat. Please tell me and our readers a little bit about how you got started.

Mary Egbert: We raised alpacas back in 2005 when we lived in Utah. I knew nothing about the fiber end of things and read every book and watched every video that was out there re: hand processing fleece, dyeing and spinning. I started washing fiber long before I spun. I bought my first wheel , a Louet S10, and it sat In the corner intimidating me for a year. Then I took the plunge and loved it! I took my first spinning class with Jacey Boggs in 2013.


UF: Fun! I resisted spinning for a while too, but it eventually sucked me in! Looks like you have a lot going on right now. I just realized you included Unicorn Power Scour and Fibre Rinse with your Raw Lock Box and we have been a monthly sponsor of your Spinning Box. I bet a lot of spinners would like to get their hands on your next offerings. How can people find you?

raw lock box

ME: A lot of ways! Here are all of our links.

The Camaj Fiber Arts Facebook Page

The Spinning Box Facebook Page

Our Blog

The Camaj Fiber Arts Website

The Spinning Box Website

UF: Wow! That is a lot of great stuff you have to offer! How do most people find their way to you?

ME: They find me through Facebook , You Tube videos, my website and Etsy. I do a few festivals a year so I can meet my customers face to face. It’s nice to meet people that I have developed a relationship with online.

UF: What are some of your favorite products and your bestsellers?

ME: My favorite products are all of them! I love everything I sell or I would not sell it. Everything I sell I have sampled and/or used so I can experience the product and pass along that information to my customer. If I don’t love it I know my customer won’t either. My best selling item is Soffsilk®, but the Spinning Box is gaining speed.

UF: What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your business?

ME: It surprises me how many people watch my videos and the positive impact that has had on my business. It really is fun getting a message from someone that said I taught them how to spin or I they learned how to dye fiber from watching my videos. It makes me feel like I’m giving back to the community and sharing what I know.


UF: You are a wonderfully supportive Unicorn Fibre dealer. How did you learn about Unicorn Fibre products?

ME: Through my tenacious research during my start up days when I was hand washing alpaca. It was, and still is, one of my favorite fiber soaps.

UF: I have to admit, I love washing a raw fleece and I will be starting up with that soon, maybe our next nice, dry day. What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

ME: Going to the beach and dancing. Not at the same time of course. Oh and being with my family, especially my grandchildren…all six of them. They are my heart.

UF: That is sweet. I bet they have fun when they see you. What is your favorite craft and who taught you to do it?

ME: Well my very first craft was sewing. My mother and grandmother were tailor quality sewers and they taught me a lot. I did that for a very long time and made clothes and toys for my kids. Once I got the taste of fiber arts and spinning yarn, sewing took a back seat.

yellow mulberry silk (2)

UF: I know how that goes. I just got back into crochet and hand sewing clothes, after a long time where knitting and spinning were center stage. So many crafts, so little time! What is your typical workday like?

ME: Up at 7…coffee…computer time to check/answer emails and orders…pack cards, adverts, or things for the Spinning Box….play on FB for a little while talking to friends and customers. Walk the dogs…check emails again. Some days I dye fibers or spin or do vids for You Tube. I babysit my twin grandsons a bit during the week too. I have a busy, full, wonderful life.

UF: Sounds like a lot of fun. What advice do you wish you could give yourself when you first got started?

ME: Why didn’t you do this years ago??!! I take that back, I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit, hunger for knowledge, am a great researcher and have flung lots of things at the wall and this has stuck and I love doing it!

sample batt spun colage

UF: You obviously have passion for what you are doing and a great attitude! What is your favorite quote or saying?

ME: I have a couple.

If you have not failed you never tried
Every great journey begins with a small step
Life is not about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself
Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.

tussah silk 2

UF: Mary, thanks for a wonderful interview. Is there anything else you would like to add?

ME: I can’t thank Unicorn enough for your support to my little biz. I will always be a great supporter of Unicorn as well.

UF: Aww, thanks! Hope to see you soon in the real world!

A Quick Testimonial–Getting Wool Diaper Covers REALLY Clean

We will be back soon with more Unicorn Fibre and Unicorn Baby Dealer Interviews, but here is a terrific testimonial from Heather P:

“My friend gave me some samples of the unicorn wash for my child’s wool diaper covers/pants. I’ve been using another brand of wool wash for about 2 years. That said, I WILL NEVER USE ANOTHER WOOL WASH EVER AGAIN!!! The filth that had built up in my woolies was disgusting and Unicorn washed all that dingy, nastiness right away. The colors were brighter, the fiber was softer, they smelled so much better. I even took a picture of my wash water to show my friend because I was in such disbelief. Thank you for such an awesome product!!!”


Thanks Heather! We are glad the Unicorn Fibre Wash was so effective for you!

The Unicorn Fibre Team

Meet our Unicorn Fibre Dealers–Baresheep!


received_10205493828278902I interviewed Shara Jean from Baresheep, and her responses were so good, I didn’t want to interrupt the flow with my questions. Shara runs her small business in an equally thoughtful way. Here is her story…

Shara: My business is a hobby, sometimes it makes some extra money. I sew custom upcycled wool accessories, clothing and covers for cloth diapered babies and really any babies, cloth diapered or not that can wear wool clothing. I’ve made items from wools such as cashmere and merino, sometimes wool blends. I sew almost anything requested if it is within my capability, things like longies, shorties, skirties, cardigans, vests, booties, blankets etc., and really all kinds of items can be requested and made to order.


I love to upcycle wools but I also purchase new wool and wool interlock for my products. I have a great assortment of other fabrics as well. The best part of my upcycling hobby is when you see something completed and feel a grand sense of pride that you rescued that from ending up in a landfill and you were able to repurpose it for something that will also prevent toxic waste (disposable diapers).

Most of my sewing gets done late night and weekends as I juggle a toddler and house during the work week.


My sewing buddy is “molly” my rescue cat. She typically sits by my feet and occasionally on a pile of wool if it is on the floor. She enjoys her time sitting and mostly sleeping in my finished basement / sewing room, that is – with no toddlers around to pick on her.

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I decided to start sewing all these items for my own baby when he was just born, of course it was one thing at a time really, and as I needed them.


I was very disturbed at all the chemicals that are used to manufacture, produce and dispose of disposable diapers and I naturally wanted a healthy way to manage these things. I knew about cloth diapers from a decade ago when my first child was born but I wanted to cloth diaper full time and with wool as it was much better then the plastic pants of the old days or toxic waste caused from the production of the PUL cover alternatives that are available these days.


I wanted to purchase these upcycled things from other WAHM’s and some name brands as well and I did from a few but I quickly realized it was within my ability to make them myself, and it would be better for me to save some $ doing so. Along my journey of almost borderline obsessive researching all these things, I realized how expensive it is getting in general to cloth diaper or even naturally dress your babies with the known brand names available.


Not to mention that some of the clothing comes from slave labor, and is processed in such a way that it is polluting the environment, and it really bothers me ethically, morally to support business that are not up to par with the standards of environmental and ethical treatments that are expected these days.


So my simple goal is that I aim to help others afford to naturally cloth diaper and dress their children and while I do upcycle wool it has its own way of saving the environment, one diaper, one hour of slave labor, and 1 cup of crude chemicals at a time. So, kind of like saving the world one diaper at a time, but I hope its more like 1 woolie at a time. But in general I do realize that some people just cannot afford the expensive stash building and gooberly expensive baby items that come with being more environmentally friendly while having to watch your pocket book… and I hope to try to give them an alternative to cheap outsourced and unethically made clothing with my hand made products and all within a great price range that is affordable and very practical. I want to help them build a stash of wool. I even make payment arrangements with some that need it for their budgeting and have had successful luck with those that do need it. I see it kind of like every mother helping every mother and together we create a village, but on a more board scale and sometimes its way out of our village. Lol


I really was able to get started because I was fortunate enough to already have known how to sew but I haven’t sewn in years. My Aunt passed away and I was given her sewing machine. After shopping around for woolies that were way out of my budget, I kind of just looked at the boxed up machine and said to myself “what am I doing…? I can totally make some myself now.” And so it began, one sweater confiscated from my hubby’s closet and then another, and then he let me go buy some… after that I was sewing every chance I could and building a stash of sweaters up for other moms too. I have a wonderful husband who totally supports this as a hobby and a small business.


We just bought a range of industrial machines to keep sewing on that will require much less maintenance then the others we have.

baresheep studio

I am always on the look out for mills to purchase wool from as well as upcycled wool. I try to get a good deals when I find them but I have high standards and I only buy quality wools. We are still building and saving for the next inventory items to keep sewing but it takes time and well, I have the time because it is something I have started to love doing and it kind of keeps me calm and less like the crazy house mom that needs to have a night out.

I started spreading the word of my woolies on facebook, and in wool trading and chatting groups.

I have a facebook page, and I have an etsy shop as well and my email is mostly people message me on facebook or etsy.
I just bought a website and am tinkering around with that, so stay tuned for that.

Some of my favorite things are baby blankets, cashmere longies and interlock wool, but I think my booties have gotten a lot of love this past winter too.
I think that the most surprising thing that has happened would be that I really enjoy it, enough that if I can keep doing it I will keep building it and it has brought me much joy, but just as much frustration at times with the legal and business aspect of it.

baresheep unicorn baby
I learned of unicorn products from a brand of wool that always was a lot over my price range, I did order from them but they never had stock of the washes and rinse. I also didn’t like their customer service and finally after 2 months of waiting for my order to ship I just contacted unicorn myself and then also found about being a retailer and I thought it would be great to always have stock so other didn’t have to wait to wash their wool for a very long time either. It just kind of makes sense.

Outside of work I enjoy my toddler playing at the park. I really enjoy coffee, like artesian coffee, and I love to brew it different ways and try new roasts or favorite coffees – I guess this is my favorite craft at heart but I would like to start roasting my own coffee someday and have a small coffee shop possibly with a lending library. I also enjoy running and generally all things outdoors. I am a nerd at heart and I swear when my toddler has a longer attention span I would love to dig into my biology and chemistry roots and start some vegetable garden and soap making.

baresheep workspace

Typically my work day starts the min I wake up with a toddler poking my face and rubbing my cheek or hair. After I stumble into the kitchen to make a bottle, start coffee, change diaper, make breakfast, make coffee, probably feed the cat put some cartoon on for the lil man and finally get to drink coffee. I start checking messages, any orders and thinking about what and when things need to get done. what do need to order, where is my laundry at and when are my shipments coming in.

baresheep thread and computer

I dont typically get to actually do a lot of the “work” until after dinner time or on the weekends, and it usually lasts until the wee hours of the night and occasional morning. It is a lengthy process, but it can be easy and quick too. some people like to be really involved and others just need that easy button but mostly the time consumption is from finding out what they want, how they want it, sizes and then the choices to present them. I help them choose from the best wools from the stash of mine once I have determined their needs and chosen the best, then I need to measure it, make a pattern and wash/ dry it before it is cut and sewn and finally rinsed before being shipped.

baresheep dyeing

It takes a few days and it’s a process, but I aim for the items to be the highest quality and with the best customer service. I am happy to offer a full range of wool care, including not only unicorn products but I have made my own pure lanolin and spray lanolin for the cloth diapering wools and soon I hope to have artesian made baby skin care products for eczema and other sensitive and extremely sensitive skin as well.

baresheep brand
Quality over quantity is the one thing would tell myself all over again. Sometimes it takes me a while as every piece of wool is different than the last and I take the time to work with it the way it needs. I feel there is a real skill in working with fibre and especially with wool and felting it as well as sewing.
My favorite quote is “ if you are going to do something, do it perfectly or don’t do it at all” and my favorite saying it “nothing comes easy that doesn’t go easy” or “this wasn’t meant to be easy or everyone would do it” particularly I tell myself this running or during marathon training but it also comes in handy with some sewing too lol
I am hoping to enter the crafting shows this year and have some ready made products available on my website for those that need an easy button with quick shipping.


The picture of the truck blanket was a PAY IT FORWARD item. Sometimes I make things randomly selecting people who are in some groups and are in need of items im comfortable making. I feel its important to give to those who need it, you never know the days ahead when you may need some help too. We havent taken a family pic in a while. Ill get one later today and send it. Use any of these you like and if you need a caption for it just let me know. Im off to sleep a few hours before monster wakes up. P.s. Molly is snoring on her wool blanket.


Meet Our Unicorn Dealers–Handknit Habitat!


For the next installment of the Meet Our Unicorn Fibre Dealers, I’d like to introduce Carla Cain of Handknit Habitat. Here she is (left) with her mother, who helps her at the craft shows where she sells her finished goods and patterns. Carla has found a niche within a niche and focuses on science fiction and fantasy-themed handknit accessories. She makes each hat or scarf by hand from materials that are as responsibly sourced as possible. Many of her yarns come from independent American mills and dyers.

Unicorn Fibre: Hi Carla, thanks for doing an interview! Is there anything else I forgot to mention?

Carla Cain: …hmm…maybe just that I’m a lifelong crafter who was searching for way to share her love of handmade goods with the world…

UF: Please tell me the nuts and bolts of your business…how did you get started?
CC: I started in 2011 selling multi-colored hats with a bohemian style on Etsy. I had put myself on waiting lists for several local craft shows and conventions and the first one that responded was a group called Gallifrey One. They stage the largest Dr Who convention in North America right here in Los Angeles every year. 3000+ people attend and they are a very friendly crowd that loves to shop! I learned quickly about how to understand and appeal to a niche audience and now I focus all of my work on the science-fiction/fantasy community. I also do craft shows at costume shops and other such venues as well.


UF: You have a cute website that connects to your very interesting blog, How do people usually find out about your business?

CC: Mainly from the craft shows and conventions, and my Etsy page.

UF: What are some of your favorite products that you sell? What is your bestselling item?
CC: My best-selling item is a hat made famous by a character from a TV show called “Firefly”. One of the characters on that show wore an orange, yellow, and red Chullo-style hat that has become an icon for “in-the-know” sci-fi fans and those hats have really become my bread and butter! I also started selling kits for people to make their own when I found out how many fans are also knitters.


UF: What is the most surprising thing that has happened with your business?

CC: On the positive side I’m always touched by how loyal, friendly, and welcoming the sf/fantasy community is. But I seriously underestimated how much work it takes to run a one-person business.

UF: Yes, so many of us in the needlearts industry are really just one person shows, or small, family businesses. How did you learn about Unicorn products?



CC: I learned about Unicorn products while searching for something to use on my personal knitting products. It worked so well, I’ve started recommending it to my customers and giving out free samples as a gift-with-purchase.

UF: What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

CC: I love being outdoors. I’m really looking forward to an upcoming trip to Yosemite.

UF: Wow, sounds rugged and beautiful. I like to be out in my garden and am so happy the weather has turned nicer here on the East Coast. I even do some knitting and sewing outside when I can. What is your favorite craft and who taught you to do it?

CC: I love knitting, and my grandmother taught me.


UF: That is really nice, and especially so since your mom helps you out at shows. Great to have the help, too, I suppose. Those shows can be busy. Please describe your typical work day.

CC: Work the “day job” till midnight, up at 9am to do business (order yarn, plan projects, balance the books, etc) for a couple of hours, then I spend 2-3 hours knitting, then it’s time to get dressed and go to the “day job” again.

UF: Yes, many professional crafters fit this work in and try to balance with another job. It can be tricky on many levels. What advice do you wish you could give yourself when you first got started?

CC: To take an accounting class! Book keeping and accounting are not my strongest assets, and the learning curve has been steep.

UF: What is your favorite quote or saying?
CC: This passage from Seth Godin’s blog keeps me inspired to work hard to improve my craft:

The difference between commitment and technique

We spend way too much time teaching people technique. Teaching people to be good at flute, or C++ or soccer.

It’s a waste because the fact is, most people can learn to be good at something, if they only choose to be, if they choose to make the leap and put in the effort and deal with the failure and the frustration and the grind.

But most people don’t want to commit until after they’ve discovered that they can be good at something. So they say, “teach me, while I stand here on one foot, teach me while I gossip with my friends via text, teach me while I wander off to other things. And, sure, if the teaching sticks, then I’ll commit.”

We’d be a lot more successful if organized schooling was all about creating an atmosphere where we can sell commitment (and where people will buy it). A committed student with access to resources is almost unstoppable.

Great teachers teach commitment.

UF: That is a great one, and so true. I know many creative business people who follow him. Thanks again for doing the interview. And keep up the good work! Anything else you would like to add?

CC: Thanks so much for this opportunity — I’m such a huge Unicorn fan that it’s really an honor!


Meet our Unicorn Fibre Dealers! Meadowrock Alpacas!

Meet our Unicorn Fibre Dealers! Meadowrock Alpacas!


When I spoke with Barbara Hansen of Meadowrock Alpacas, I got the sense that she and her husband Jim have found joy in the new phase of their lives that includes raising alpacas. Anyone who is lucky enough to have visited their farm no doubt came away with that sense as well as a few pairs of alpaca socks or hats. I had to satisfy myself with a virtual tour at their website. What a gorgeous place, with lovely, and clearly very special, animals!

Unicorn Fibre: Hi Barbara, and thanks for participating in this Get to Know Our Unicorn Dealers project! Your farm looks so beautiful and fun. Can you tell me the story of how you got started?

2012 07 Amber and me DSC_0245-2

Barbara Hansen: Whoa boy . . . our story is very long since this all came about in my “retirement”. Yep, I no longer have an IRA, 401(k), or annuity; just the store and my intrepid husband, Jim, who has now taken over as the Barn Manager. It’s hard to believe it’s 2015, eight years after purchasing our first pregnant alpaca. My goal was to have something productive to do in our retirement and I have found that “alpaca” fills our world.

Tuff and Geneva at end of first day DSCF7893

We currently have nine alpacas including three pregnant girls; our first cria (baby) is due in a couple weeks. In our first years we showed our alpacas and through these shows our herdsire earned five championships. When we decided to open a farm store to sell the yarn our alpacas produced we got a little carried away and have filled 1,200 square feet with over 5,000 items related to the alpaca, including the Unicorn Fibre Wash and Rinse and Unicorn Power Scour.

Meaowrock Alpacas DSCF7203 (1)

UF: Your photos are simply breathtaking. Can you tell me a little about where your farm is in the world?

BH: We live in a very small rural community that is bordered by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Mt. Adams Wilderness in Washington State, just north of the Columbia River Gorge. In the whole world, we would rather be no place else and rarely go on “vacations”, we are the vacation. Many of our farm visitors comment on how wonderful it is here and we simply smile back. The county we live in has only one stop light and it’s over 20 miles from the farm.

Alpaca Annex at Meadowrock - Inside the store (Custom)

UF: What do you offer at your farm and store?

BH: Many tourists visit us year round to tour our farm, learn more about alpacas, and purchase items made with alpaca fiber: hats, scarves, gloves, vests, sweaters, SOCKS, fur bears, and YARN; some 100% alpaca, some blends, and some are even handmade.

UF: What are some of your top selling and favorite items?

BH: Alpaca yarn and alpaca socks are our most favorite items and our top sellers; the fur bears are the most delightful and usually have a new name by the time they leave the store.


UF: Sounds like a world of cute fuzziness! How do the Unicorn Fibre products fit in?

BH: All of the alpaca products we sell are enhanced when Unicorn products are used in their care.I recommend using Unicorn Fibre Wash and Rinse on yarn and finished garments to get the best results.

UF: How do you like to use the products yourself?

BH: My husband and I wear alpaca socks daily and I do a load of laundry once a week using Unicorn products. Once I began using Unicorn I found my clothes softer and retaining their shape better, remaining stretchy, not felted.

Meadowrock Alpacas herding to field for day 3 of 4

UF: What do you enjoy the most about your day to day activities?

BH: Needless to say, we love our alpacas! Besides being so darn entertaining, they act as our athletic club plus providing fiber for some of the yarn I sell in our store. They also provide fiber for our coop, The Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America, which produces the Extreme alpaca socks from US fiber and is 74% alpaca, really extreme.

UF: I love alpaca socks. And now I’m dreaming of making mitts or socks with alpaca yarn. What is your favorite craft, and how did you learn to do it?

BH: My favorite craft is working with and learning more about fiber whether it be knitting (self-taught) or weaving (took a class a local studio) or simply skirting fleeces (many seminars). My husband, on the other hand, loves to build things that make our lives easier; and I love him for it.

UF: Sounds like Jim is very handy and inventive. Can you give me an idea of what kinds of things he has built?

BH: Because of the way I designed and built the barn (yes me and a 24-year old with a broken left wrist, I even set my own trusses!), the outside gates could not be directly attached to it as we needed wall space to slide the outside stall doors open/closed without increasing barn size.  Instead, by design, the gates were mounted on the last pole of each fence line that effectively divides the four stalls and paddock areas plus dividing their “little” pastures and herding alleys from each other.  It sounds complicated but it’s not.  Just think of the barn as the hub of a spoke wheel with the spokes being the fence lines.  Imagine, IF all the gates are open at the same time you can physically drive a four-wheeler completely around the barn.  We don’t do that, but the point is, we have complete flexibility and access to every paddock; which has proved really handy for moving animals and removing snow, as two examples.

Aston's latch Pen 1

Back to the point, the latches.  Mesh gates typically hook onto a fence post.  We simply put a post in the ground far enough away from the barn to allow the sliding doors to pass behind it.  After using the typical chain and hook set up Jim found the thick plastic you see in the photos.  We needed a more “solid” design for our herdsire’s (Aston) gate. Other gates use Jim’s “flip” design.  But, with the flip design, we found it didn’t take long for the alpacas to figure out how to flip them up.  To solve this issue, a spring was attached.  Works great!  Jim also came up with a little different design so a gate can be secured to the corner of the barn.  Patents are pending on all Jim’s designs.
UF: I guess I never thought of alpacas as smart enough to figure out latches. Are there any “Frequently asked Questions” from your farm visitors?
BH: Hmm, frequently asked questions . . . there are so many.    What’s the difference between an alpaca and a llama?  How long does the alpaca live?  How often do you shear?  What’s the gestation period?  How much acreage is needed to raise alpacas?  Can I pet them?  What does an alpaca eat?  Why do you separate the boys and girls?  Do you have to cut their toenails?  Who built your barn?  What do you call their fur?  What do you use it for?   I could go on and on.  Our tours generally take 45-60 minutes and are intended to be of an educational nature.  We do have a few animals to sell, but nothing like the BIG breeders.  So, over the years we found our visitors want to learn about the alpaca not take one home.  We are simply filling what the market demands in our very rural location.
When a guest walks into the store their first reaction is “I can’t believe you have such a nice store here in Trout Lake”, we’re very country here and I get this from locals and travelers alike.    Other most received comments include:  “Your place is so-o-o-o tidy and clean”  or “how do you keep your place looking so good?” or “WHAT A VIEW!” (Mt. Adams is “in your face”) or “it sure smells good here.”  or “you actually have a public bathroom?” or “can we just sit and have a picnic here?”  All of which makes what we do worth while :-)

Meadowrock Alpacas DSCF7167 c (1)

UF: I don’t know how you get things done…I would just be staring at the scenery all day. Can you tell me about your typical day at your farm and store?

BH: A typical work day begins around 6am with Jim (husband) heading to the barn to do the early morning chores that include feeding measured supplement pellets to the alpacas. I putz along, getting ready to open the store by 10am, there’s always plenty to do. I’m now the storekeeper and resident alpaca guru. My days are usually busy with all the needs of a working farm and store but when a visitor comes, everything is pushed aside and our guest(s) takes top priority whether they want to simply shop in the store or if they want a farm tour. I force myself to quit at 5pm for dinner and to spend the evening knitting or spinning (I’m just learning).

UF: What advice do you wish you could give yourself when you first got started?

BH: Advice? Hmmm, how about: why didn’t we do this 40 years ago?

UF: What are some of your favorite quotes or sayings?

BH: One of my favorite quotes is: If you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails. Which goes right along with: Think like a willow, not an oak.

UF: How do most of your customers learn about you?

BH: Many learn about us through word of mouth, driving by and seeing our farm, referrals from our Chamber of Commerce, and rack cards placed in hotels and motels plus we also advertise in local (within 60 miles) tourist magazines and hotel guest books.

Aston right 300 dpi 8-20-11 038

UF: Well, I sure am glad I found out more about you. Thanks for the interview and for belonging to our family of Unicorn Dealers. Congratulations on the nice life you have built for yourselves. I encourage people to make arrangements to visit your farm and store if they will be in the area. Here is the link to contact Barbara and Jim Hansen of Meadowrock Alpacas.

Meet Our Unicorn Fibre Dealers! First Up–The Spinning Loft!

Meet Our Unicorn Fibre Dealers! First Up–The Spinning Loft!


We had recently heard from Alison Pacuska from The Spinning Loft a little while ago when she told us how she cured her cute doggie’s skin problem with Unicorn Power Scour. We were extremely pleased when she agreed to participate in the Unicorn Fibre Dealer Interview series. We love our dealers and we want you to get to know them the way we do.

Alison is the proprietor of the online store The Spinning Loft. If that name rings a bell, it could be because it was once a brick and mortar spinning shop in Howell, MI. Our friend Beth Smith closed it when she decided to concentrate more on spinning, family time, teaching, and writing, and it is everyone’s good fortune that Alison picked up the reins. Alison is obviously filled with passion for what she does: she is a super busy person, but seems to gain energy from her work with shepherds, sheep, fleece, and all of the fun tools and products that we spinners love. Talking with her made me want to process some of my fleece stash and get to carding and spinning!


Unicorn Fibre: Hi Alison, and thanks for agreeing to an interview. You are our first featured dealer in this series. Can you tell me a little about what sets you apart from other providers in the handspinning marketplace?

Alison Pacuska: We specialize in rare breeds and we enjoy working with teachers like Beth Smith and Deb Robson who teach about breed study. We will also work with Guilds to cater breed study samplers to their needs.

UF: Oh, I love their books, and I have had the pleasure of in-person time with Beth on several occasions. It’s hard not to want to straight up copy her clothes and hair. Please tell me the nuts and bolts of your business…how did you get started?

AP: I suppose it started during my trip abroad in Moscow where I was introduced to Orenburg lace.  I decided had to learn to knit it.  Then I discovered I couldn’t find just the right yarn for it so I had to learn to spin.  Then I discovered there were hundreds and hundreds of breeds of sheep so I found someone with a breed study sampler – only I was terrified of what to do with it.  Just at that moment I saw an ad for a breed study class not 2 hours from me and I signed myself and my husband up.  It was all over after that.  I fell in love with all the wools – even the scratchy “unfriendly” ones.

The moment I spun Scottish Blackface I said “This would make a fabulous drive band!”   And I went shopping at The Spinning Loft.  That weekend Beth Smith, who was giving the class, also mentioned that Deb Robson’s Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook would be coming out.

Two years later I learned she was signing copies at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I promptly got in line and spent the whole time squeeing and bouncing with joy.  I think if you asked her, she’d say she never saw anyone so excited about a book about wool.  That was an amazing day.  We talked and the slope got slippier and steeper.

UF: I get that. Maryland is always a peak experience in one’s life. So, you were clearly addicted to fiber. How did it go from that to a business?


AP: A few years later, and 94 breeds sampled, I got this phone call from Beth, “Hey – I’m thinking of selling the store, do you want it?”

My palms got sweaty, my inner voices screamed YES YES YES and, shaking, I called my husband and IM’d my best friend.  Should I buy it?  The both yelled at me.  My husband said if I didn’t I’d be miserable and impossible to live with and he’d have to kill me in my sleep.  My friend said I had no choice because if I didn’t who else would love the sheep as much.

The next call was to my financial advisor to liquefy the purchase price.  I had to wait for the end of Faire season but the weekend after it was over I had a truck and I was driving to Michigan to get everything and frantically emailing and calling shepherds, vendors and other contacts to introduce myself.

UF: I know many of the wholesale vendors from TNNA. They are really a nice group of small business owners and there is a lot of knowledge there. How nice that your husband and friend are so supportive! Sounds like they knew you “had to” make this move.

AP: I think this store is all about a passion for the wool – and for the sheep.  You have to love the sheep and talk to the shepherds.

I obviously made the right decision because every day I feel desperate or sad or worried, I look at the wool or I talk to a shepherd or I talk to spinners and I feel reinvigorated and reinspired. Not a day passes when I don’t work with wool in some way and love every minute of it.

UF: How can people find your shop?

AP: Email through our site is the best way to contact us with questions, and here are all of my links:

Our blog is on our website:

UF: How do most people first learn about your business?

AP: A significant amount of our traffic comes from Ravelry, believe it or not.  The next largest amount comes from word of mouth – from having our samples in breed study classes, from talking to people and shepherds – and from talking to shearers.  We also get a good amount of traffic from Abbysyarns, PLY, Knitty and Spin Off.

UF: What are some of your favorite products that you sell? What is your bestselling item?

AP: My favorite products are the wool of course!  I think the most unknown items are the knitting needles and notions, and also that we have looms and spinning wheels.   Our bestselling items are our samplers, especially the Beth Smith Sampler.


UF: What is your favorite fleece to work with?

AP: My favorite wool – well, that’s whatever I’m working on right now.  You make this SOOO HARD.  How can you make me pick a favorite?  It’s like
choosing among your children!  If you insist though…. Right now, I think
my favorite fiber to spin is either Bond, Romney or Jacob. They have a special place in my heart. And Gulf Coast.  And Warhill.  And Deboiullet.  And CVM.  And Santa Cruz.  And…..

UF: You just reminded me I have a lovely brown Romney/Bond fleece somewhere in my house. I think it is calling to me…What is the most surprising thing that has happened with your business?

AP: I have met such wonderful people!  Shepherds, other fiber artists, shearers… it gives me such joy to talk with them. And it helps me stay focused on the goals to get out of that day job and into a world of doing what I love instead.


UF: Can you tell me a fun recent sheep or shepherd story?

AP: I think the funniest sheep story I have relates to the day I went to see a local Soay flock – I wanted to work with the shepherd to improve her fleece.  Soay are feral sheep – very small, feral sheep.  They are skittish.  The shepherd asked us to help round them up by taking various positions and moving them into the barn.  One particular sheep showed no interest whatsoever, and instead decided to make a break for it.  He took a running leap OVER my husband’s head.  My husband is 6’1″.  Absolutely hysterical.

UF: Flying sheep, I love it! How did you learn about Unicorn products?

AP: Beth Smith used Unicorn Power Scour in a breed study class I took with her.  After comparing it to so many others, I just loved it.  I stock others, because people need options and have preferences, but my preference is Unicorn.


UF: When I worked with Beth, she also stocked many kinds of wool wash, and said that different ones were used for different purposes. What do most of your customers do with their Unicorn products (if you have a sense of this?) Are  there certain kinds of wool that pair well with Unicorn products?

AP: I have a couple different wool washes (and rinses) and while I sell Unicorn Power Scour the most, I do get some decent traffic in Unicorn Fibre Wash and Unicorn Fibre Rinse.  They are fantastic for caring for all manner of FO (finished objects) from handspun yarn, to woven fabric, to
knitted or crocheted textiles.  And of course, the Fibre Rinse is a great product for making combing milk!


UF: What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

AP: What is this outside of work thing to which you refer?  Kidding – in a way.  I have a day job that has a large amount of hours and stress associated with it, and the store takes up most of the rest. But when I can have some time to myself, and I do try to allocate an hour or so a day, it is consumed by spinning and knitting, by cooking and wine tasting with friends, with attending places like the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and by triathlon.  I’m afraid I was cursed with an absolute inability to sit and be still or quiet for any length of time exceeding one minute 29 seconds.

UF: Wow, you are one busy woman! I’m afraid it will make me tired just thinking about it, but please describe your typical work day.

AP: I have to divide these by weekday and weekend – thanks to that day job.

A week day I’m up by 6, I take care of my aging and ailing Pup-supervisor, I spend an hour getting to work (it’s only 11 miles, but DC traffic is a thing to behold).  I work all day supporting my legal team, then I get a training session in on the way home.  Once I’m home in the evening, I take care of the dog and get dinner going with the husband/ IT/Web guy and head downstairs to the store to get any shipping or communications done.  After that I eat and try to get some spinning or knitting in.  I’m normally in bed around 11.  Lather rinse and repeat.

On a weekend, I am up by 7.  I try to save Saturdays for house stuff – cleaning up, yardwork (o,h my poor garden) and longer training sessions. In the spring it often includes visits to shepherds for shearing. Then Sunday I spend in the store shipping and packing and photographing new fleeces – and scheming for the plans for the coming year.

UF: What is your favorite craft and who taught you to do it?

111209-Schacht-11-Matchless 004

AP: I am equally torn between spinning, knitting and cooking – and all but the spinning were taught to me by my mother.  My mother is a talented craftswoman – and she refuses to admit it.  She also makes the world’s best pickled beets (they pair perfectly with Zweigelt).

The spinning I learned to do at a little 30 minute presentation ‘class’ at the sadly now defunct (as far as I know) Potomac Celtic Festival ages and ages ago.

UF: Yum, beets.  What is the yummiest thing you have cooked recently?

AP: We had a chinese food and wine pairing with some friends recently (Viognier was best) and I made a 5 spice goat leg that was so delicious and tender we had no leftovers at all.  Our friends have lived in Africa and Central Asia where they ate a lot of goat.  Both said it was the best goat they’d ever eaten.  The leg bone recently became the stock base for an Italian Wedding soup I made and the leftover 5 spice was an oddly pleasant aromatic for the broth; a nice complement!

UF: Sounds super delicious, and very creative! What advice do you wish you could give yourself when you first got started?

AP: Don’t be so hesitant – you can do this.

UF: What is your favorite quote or saying?

AP: I have several. One that is fiber oriented: “Sample all the things.” (Beth Smith).

One that is something that has spoken to my heart since I was a child:  “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” (Thomas Jefferson; it appears on the rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial)

And one that is the best piece of advice I have ever received and that I could ever give: “Regret nothing; every mistake is an opportunity to learn.”  (Wendy, a friend from high school)

UF: Those are all awesome. Anything else you would like to add?

AP: Don’t ever be afraid to stretch your limits, to try new things, to attempt and to fail.   If you don’t try, you cannot succeed.  If you don’t try, you don’t learn.  Death and stagnation lie in monotony or doing the same things over and over.  This holds true with fiber and craft as much as it holds for anything in life and I love putting a fiber into someone’s hands that they’ve never encountered before.  I love when they handle it, test it, try to spin it.  Sometimes it doesn’t get along with them and sometimes it does.  But the expression they have – the joy, the fascination with exploration, even the frustration, it’s wonderful!  Sometimes they get this look of peace and tranquility and you know Ghandi was right again.  Sometimes they struggle and think you are crazy – but they go back to their standby and have a better time and you know they learned some new level of appreciation.

And sometimes …. Sometimes they buy a wool store.

UF: Wow! Thanks again for a terrific interview. I really enjoyed it and you have me thinking about fleece! Keep up the great work!


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