The Shepherd and The Shearer, Part 2

From the very beginning, Emily and I knew that we wanted to make The Shepherd and The Shearer a grand collaboration between the shepherds that grew the wool, the shearer, the designers and the knitter who brought all the pieces together to create a beautiful sweater, an entire package that featured both the yarn and the pattern that would best show it off.

So we approached two rockstar designers, and as I wrote earlier, we were pretty sure they would both say no. They both really busy and successful, but we figured it could hurt to ask.

When I tell you I nearly fainted when they both said yes, I am not exaggerating. I never allowed myself to dream that  I’d be in a position to work with Kate Davies and Kirsten Kapur.  Never never never. It’s SURREAL, y’all.

Kate Davies and Kirsten Kapur are each designing an exclusive cabled, Aran sweater, inspired by the yarn we are creating and the spirit of the project. The patterns will be named The Shepherd and The Shearer, respectively. The patterns will be either unisex or available in adult men’s and women’s sizes (we’ve left this up to the to designers).

Both patters will be featured in a numbered, soft-cover book, that will arrive with the yarn in September, 2013. The rest of the book will feature photographs and descriptions from Emily and myself of our process of getting the fiber from the fleece all the way through to the finished yarn. We’ll also have a few pics of the designers’ creative process, sketches, etc.

Every farmer who’s fleece is used for this yarn will be credited (and photographed, if they are up for it.). The book will be a complete record of the project from it’s start on the small fiber farms of the Mid-Altantic to your knitting needles. In fact, we’re leaving space for a few photos of your progress and a hero shot of your completed sweater. Think of it as a project workbook that isn’t complete until you finish the sweater.

In addition to your yarn and The Shearer and The Shepherd book, each collaborator will receive a project bag with our awesome logo on it. Cause I want to put that logo on everything.

Don’t we look like two thirds of the cast of a very special, farm-based episode of Charlie’s Angels?

Are you ready for the best part? Cause we’re not there yet. Emily and I are dedicating a portion of profits from this venture to establish a scholarship fund to send women to sheep shearing school! Shearing school itself isn’t all that expensive until you factor in travel, hotels, meals, etc. We’re going to take application and send as many women as we can to learn the fine art of shearing a sheep! 

In order to be sure that we had the yarn in hand to ship out to our collaborators by September of 2013- and that you had your sweater in time for the cold!- we had to make a deal with the mill in upfron,t and very carefully work out the timing. Emily and Erin are going to deliver the fleeces to the mill no later than June 3rd of 2013 and the mill assures me that we will have it back at the farm and ready to ship to you by September of 2013.

The yarn will undyed, and, as we are only using white fleeces, will be a traditional off-white color. When the yarn ships, we’ll start a Ravelry group with knit-a-longs for both patterns, so you won’t be totally out to sea, even if you haven’t knit a sweater or cables before.

And, of course, we will track the progress of the project from start to finish here on the blog, although we’re going to save lots of pictures for the book only.

Spots in The Shepherd and The Shearer will go on sale tomorrow morning for $250 each. This price will include the book, the project bag and enough yarn to make ONE sweater in your size. It will also cover the cost of making sure everyone involved is fairly compensated- the farmers, the mill, the designers, etc.

Since we have already committed to a total weight with the mill, we can only sell 200 spots in the project. I honestly have no idea how long it will take to sell all the spots. You may want to let Santa know ASAP that this is on your list.

As far as we can tell, no one has ever done this type of collaborative knitting project before, and Emily and I are very excited to participating with Kate Davies, Kirsten Kapur and YOU.


*I’ve already gotten a couple emails asking who did it: our friend CaryCanary did the artwork and the brilliant Michelle Lukezic  turned it into a brilliant logo. Just FYI, I wouldn’t take a truckload of gold for Michelle. She is a gem!


  1. Floored. I must participate. Hang on while I go count my pennies!

  2. Ah! This is fantastic. I’m glad that Hanukah is coming up soon :)

  3. I’ll be stalking the shop tomorrow.

  4. Wow, totally amazing. I just know everyone who participates will have their lives changed because of it :) I’ll be watching and cheering from the sidelines with great enthusiasm!!

  5. Wow, just plain wow. How wonderful this is. How exciting and wonderful.
    Hooray for The Shepherd and the Shearer.
    I love the logo, it’s perfect.

  6. Awesome idea ladies! I LOVE your logo….way better than Charlie’s Angels. The sum of all of your collaborative parts far surpasses those gun slinging, heel toting head turners!!! You should do a reality tv series of The Shepherd and The Shearer….just sayin’….

  7. Julie (Erin's Mom)

    November 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Count me in!!!

  8. What a fabulous idea! I’d love to participate! Having recently become a spinner as well, I have been fascinated by taking a project from fleece to product….something I am working on! And, weirdly, in my knitting group, we all just decided to knit an aran sweater come January! You were dead on in how difficult it is to find the correct yarn for the project! I’ll be watching tomorrow!

  9. what time tomorrow morning??? Off to make sure I can get onto my pay pal account unless you want the $$ some other better-for-you way… Very cool idea.

  10. I think this is just about the most wonderful thing JMF has ever done. But I think that about all of your new ideas. Congratulations on what I am sure will be a wildly successful new venture.

  11. I just want to get some credit here, I’ve been keeping this secret for WEEKS! This is going to be the best thing yet. Y’all are geniuses.

  12. This is such a fabulous idea and you both deserve to be buried in (thornless) roses from the standing ovation you’d get if you could get all of us in a room together.

    I really wish I was at a financial place to participate fully but I will absolutely LOVE watching this grow. Do you think there could be other items in the shop (project bag, print/poster) with the logo? I’d like to support this at a lower price point!

  13. WOOHOO!!!!!!!!

  14. Quite a nifty idea. What breeds of sheep are you using? (The shepherd in me is wondering.) Are you blending more than one breed or will the yarn be breed specific to highlight the qualities of that breed? I guess all that will be answered when you tell the story. Congrats on your idea and good luck with the project.

  15. WOW! I am so excited. It is a wonderful idea. I hope I am lucky enough to participate. See you tomorrow :o)

  16. Counting and counting…..maybe….and hopeful…..gotta get some cash dough for this baby! sounds more than fantastic!

  17. Anyone interested in learning to shear should check with their local ag schools and cooperative extensions for shearing workshops. I took one with the University of KY school of agriculture last year and it was WONDERFUL. I plan to go back this year and take my mom with me so she can learn too!

  18. Fantastic Idea and one I wish I could afford at this (jobless) time in my life. But I know this will be a rousing success and you will have future seasons with new designers.

  19. Oh and I’d love one of the project bags if you decide to sell them on their own!

  20. Judy aka lamazeteacher

    November 20, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    You never cease to amaze me with your creativity, enthusiasm and super-human ability to do a hundred things at the same time (and succeed)! I’m totally in on this and would even like the possibility of offering the book, bag and 2 skeins of wool so that I could knit matching sweaters . (At an additional cost, of course.) I know the yarn is going to be unique, and if there are any skeins still on the shelf at the end, I’m hoping this idea could be considered. I know it’s a lot of money, but I would give up my budget for the whole year for chocolate, wine, new shoes, new jeans and everything else I think is essential to keep me happy! (Must keep the hair dye on the priority list, though!)

    Anyhow, kudos to all who worked so hard to get this project off the ground. It’s an honor to know (some personally, some not) women like you.

  21. Judy aka lamazeteacher

    November 20, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    PS: When does “tomorrow” start on your calendar?

  22. I really love the way you think. Jaw-dropping awesome!

  23. So wonderful! Congratulations all around on a brilliant idea & collaboration.

  24. Wonderful concept and another way to unite sheep and knitting lovers is ALWAYS a great idea. Wishing success for all!

  25. I would absolutely love to participate! Sounds amazing!

  26. Where can I order the shepherd and shearer?

  27. Wow, this post and your previous are so inspiring. I love, love, love this new project of yours! Your photo in your sweater made me get out a sweater I purchased that is very similar: also almost 20 years old, also just like new even though worn to excess. Reading your post and looking at this sweater again have reminded me that being able to knit a sweater like this was what prompted me to start knitting in the first place. Even though I now have the skill to knit the sweater, I have yet to find the yarn that will make it as special and durable as the purchased one. I don’t even want to think about how much money I’ve wasted trying to do it with the softer yarns (because of which, ironically, I can’t afford to join in on your project this month). I’ll be watching it on your blog and Ravelry, though, and cheering you on. You’ve really inspired me to try to get back to that original goal I once had, and to hope that in the future, because of you and projects of this sort, this type of yarn will be more widely available.

  28. Nifty idea! About 1/3rd of the members of my local spinning/knitting group raise fiber animals. Just in our little group, there are shepherds with Merinos, Icelandics, Shetlands, Jacobs, Romney, Columbia and Corriedale sheep (I’ve probably forgotten a few). (In addition we have a few “shepherds” of angora rabbits, alpacas, llamas and a lady with a couple of yaks). I am always awed by the versatility of the humble sheep, whose wool from different breeds makes everything from long wearing rugs and tapestries, through felted saddle blankets and clear to the softness you can make into a hat for a newborn and all points in between. (I remember reading that the Vikings made the sails for their ships out of wool)! So I am always reminded that there is no “best” breed of sheep, just the best wool for the job you are asking of it. I have plenty of yarn, but would love to see the book. BTW, the Washington state wool growers association has a 5 day shearing school–I think it is the only 5 day school in the country and the beginning shearers can really hone their skills in those additional days. Experienced shearers come from at least 4 states to volunteer their time assisting the school. If your efforts are rewarded, I hope you will consider contributing to their scholarship fund.

  29. WOW!!! Oh all the times to be beyond broke!! This concept is beautiful!! I hope this is something you will do again so that I may have the honor of participating!!!
    I will look forward to seeing the finished product next year and live vicariously though everyone who will be making this most wonderful sweater!

  30. Maureen J (mljan)

    November 21, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    What a wonderful terrific amazing heartening project!!! Oh, how I wish I lived in a cold climate and could wear wool. Failing that, I go along with the hope that you’ll sell project bags or other swag with the wonderful logo on them. I’m in love with the logo.

  31. Congratulations. I am most excited to be following The Shepherd and The Shearer.
    Please consider making your book available to all. I would dearly treasure a copy.
    All good things to you all.

  32. Please, please include a crocheted sweater pattern in the next launch.

    I love this idea, it’s really fabulous and I love your logo.

  33. I am beyond thrilled to be part of this fantastic experience. I’ve been a serious knitter for more than 50 years and have made more Aran sweaters than most Irish knitters! I will look forward to next September with great anticipation! Thank you for doing this, and I’m proud to (kind of) know a shepherd!

  34. What a great idea! I love the cause but I am too much of a novice to master a sweater like this. Any chance you might be printing extra project bags with that logo that you might sell for something more manageable like $20? With part of the proceeds going towards the scholarship?
    Hope to see more projects like this in the future!

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