This post was composed for the Sheepspot blog and appeared on 6/15/16. I’m cross-posting it here. The club reopens on June 22, so get ready and join us!
When I heard Sasha Torres was starting a Breed Club, I was immediately interested. Sasha hosted a podcast called SpinDoctor from 2010-14, and those years coincided with my development as a spinner. My years of listening assured me she knew her stuff. I shared her interest in supporting farmers working to preserve smaller breeds.
I was confident Sasha would do the club well because she carefully queried her customers to learn about their prior experiences with clubs. I know, because I was one of many fiber fans who completed her survey. I hadn’t been in a fiber or yarn club in at least a decade, and I told her why!
The club options Sasha unveiled addressed every single one of my concerns:
You could choose to join for 6 or 12 months
You could choose yarn or fiber
You could choose dyed or undyed
If you chose dyed yarn/fiber, you would choose a colorway from two different options, assuring you would get something that you liked
You could choose the standard 4 oz amount, or double it
You could join the Breed School, which supported learning about sheep breeds with extra information in each shipment, as well as the opportunity to join an online chat about each breed
All of these options were mix-and-match, so you could customize the club (and its price) to fit you perfectly. This approach convinced me that Sasha truly heard what her survey respondents said and designed a club experience that would work for us. I was very tempted when I first saw the club announcement.
Coopworth in Amethyst
But what prompted me to commit to the club was the Breed School experience, emphasis on the word “experience.” I have a lot of yarn and fiber in stash already… you probably do, too! And if I want more materials, I can obtain them easily. But Breed School sounded like an opportunity to forge new connections with other fiber fans, which is something you just can’t order online. I also wanted to strengthen connections with one of my local spinning friends, Caitlin - so we joined the club together and scheduled a special spinning date every time we received a new shipment. For me, this club was about creating an experience that would nourish me rather than just purchasing fiber.
The Sheepspot club worked perfectly for me. Five of the six breeds were new to me as a spinner - Dorset Down, Montadale, Cormo, Perendale, and Targhee (the only one I had worked with previously was Coopworth). We received both combed top and carded roving, so I practiced different drafting styles. I kept up with the club and managed to spin each shipment before the next one arrived. I have even knit projects from two of the yarns I made with Sheepspot club fiber this year. One of my fiber goals for 2016 is to knit more of my handspun, and Sasha is constantly asking “what are you going to make with this?”
Fingerless mitts for my nieces, from Dorset Down in Sand and Sea
The club has been a huge win for me. My spinning has improved a lot this past year. Caitlin and I spun together six times that we wouldn’t have without the club structure. I have really enjoyed getting to know Sasha and Kat better through our online chats. We even met up at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival this year, and they taught me how to evaluate fleeces. (I didn’t quite buy one...but maybe next year!)
Are we doing Breed School again? Where do I sign up?