Kim here for Solitude Wool
This past weekend at Rhinebeck (the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY), I spent much of my time in the back of our booth behind the cash register and out of the way. I tried to greet everyone with smiling eyes (my actual smile was behind my mask), and with "Hi! If you have any questions, please let me know". Many of my booth skills had gotten surprisingly rusty during our pandemic festival hiatus -- counting change, for example, whoa, I needed practice! Though one thing that returned to me rather quickly was being able to tell which customers understood or were curious about Solitude Wool and our breed-specific, Fibershed focus.
Gretchen does such an incredible job with dying our yarn that I completely understand why some folks were drawn into our booth simply because they spotted an irresistible color. However, if they held up a lovely skein of Karakul and asked me if it would make nice knitted undergarments, I knew we had a lot to talk about! Though, not everyone was interested in that conversation. Some folks were only looking for a worsted weight yarn in a specific color, and they wanted it to be soft. They did not care what sheep breed grew that wool, what Fibershed the shepherd is part of, what the difference is between woolen and worsted spun, nor did they seem concerned for the struggling mills in this country. Clearly, Solitude Wool did not have what they were looking for, so I wished them well with their search and off they went, hopefully finding happiness at another small business at the festival.
On the other hand, many passersby were attracted to our large photos of sheep heads above the appropriate yarn, and they noticed differences between sheep breeds. Plus, our new sample display caught their attention. Currently, we have yarn &/or roving for about 20 different breeds. Well, we can't bring it all with us, so Gretchen came up with this ingenious display which is the equivalent of love beads for folks who love breed-specific wool! Each sample hangs on a chain along with a photo of the sheep, details about the yarn, and a sign saying if it is on the Livestock Conservancy's Conservation Priority List -- the Shave 'Em to Save 'Em Initiative (SE2SE).
When I saw folks ogling and fondling the sample display (to my right in the top photo), as if they hadn't picked up on it, I'd say, "We're all about the different breeds. We send our wool to U.S. mills with the equipment and knowledge to highlight that breed's wool characteristics, and as you can tell it all turns out very differently". This was a great way for people to see and touch one of everything we have. It was a BIG hit!
On the occasion when a customer would say, "Oh, I know -- I've been a fan of Solitude Wool for years!" my heart would smile! And when someone new would say, "I'd love to learn more. Can I sign up for your newsletter?" my heart would leap! Interest in wool from different sheep breeds and appreciation for what we do at Solitude Wool keeps us Woolies going!
Solit de Wool!
I know, I know! It's corny! BUT it's true! There would be no Solitude Wool without "U"/YOU! Thank YOU!
With much wooly appreciation,