What lead to you becoming a yarn producer?
Blue Sky Fibers has grown from one person's love of alpacas to a worldwide endeavor, way beyond its founder's imagination.
Linda Niemeyer started Blue Sky Fibers over 20 years ago when her curious preoccupation with alpacas led to her buying one. Today, Blue Sky Fibers is sold worldwide and is known for our consciously crafted collection of high-quality natural fibers and patterns.
Where do you create? Do you have a team?
Soon after Linda bought an alpaca, she found herself with a lot of yarn on hand. She took it to a nearby yarn store, which was willing to buy and sell it. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Blue Sky Fibers has a small team and is based in Minnesota. It continues to grow and expand throughout the world, as does the origin of raw materials. Our team partners with mills in Peru and Italy to create unique and beautiful fibers, as well as the USA for our limited edition yarns.
What inspires you?
We have been traveling to Peru for the last 20 years. The textures and colors of the fabulous landscape, where llamas, alpacas and sheep graze on its immense plateaus, have inspired spinners, dyers, weavers and knitters for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, as well as us. From this inspiration, the development stage occurs, with mood boards, fiber and color trends and the intent to create the next consciously crafted fiber. Thoughtfully constructed fiber samples arrive in different weights, blends and twists. Each hand of yarn is studied and knit with to know exactly what the end result will be for knitters. Then, when the final hank has been designed, the perfect nature-inspired color palette is created. From there, the final stage of development is working with designers to create a thoughtful and cohesive collection of patterns.
Can you walk us through one of your yarns from start to finish?
The journey of Woolstok starts in the Highlands of Peru. Our premium pure wool yarn is created from the fleece of a crossbreed of Corriedale sheep and local Peruvian Highland sheep, and it is processed in a state-of-the-art mill. Due to this crossbreed, weather conditions, living at high altitudes and diet, the sheep develop a crimpy and durable wool, perfect to make Woolstok.
A typical breeder in Peru will only own between 30 and 50 sheep - this is considered small scale compared to other countries. The shearing season starts during Peru's spring, which is the end of October or beginning of November and lasts through February. Once sheared, the fibers are then sorted by hand based on length, fineness and color by women who are specialized in the process and have learned the technique, mostly from their mothers.
Once the fibers have been sorted, the color process starts. Woolstok is heathered, and this look is achieved by adding two or three bases of shades that are dyed and mixed in machines. Once the colors are mixed, the fiber is combed multiple times to create an even heather and unique color combinations.