By Anne Podlesak
Owner/Dyer: Michelle Szeghalmi-Shirley
Shop: The Sweet Sheep Wool Shoppe
Q: How did you decide to start an indie fiber business?
When I first started The Sweet Sheep I was inspired by all of the incredibly talented artists out there dyeing sock yarns. At the time Canada was limited in selection of “non commercial” yarns. We had a few very talented ladies, but mostly I found many of my packages coming across the border. I wanted to create a community of fiber artists in one location. At the time there were few stores like this. A one stop shop for all of your favorite dyers!
Over our 6 years we have evolved, and as a manic crafter myself I couldn’t help but get my own hands in the dye pot. I started with dyeing yarns. Shortly after I became a spinner and there was no question that I needed to dye my own fibers too. I am always flattered to see someone take home a skein or braid of mine.
Q: Favorite fiber/yarn and favorite color?
This is a bit of a tricky question! I tend to lean more towards the luxury blends. I absolutely adore anything with silk in it. Merino/Silk or BFL/Silk are probably my favorites, but I can easily fall in love with any luxury blend. If I need to put something on the wheel that is just going to be a good relaxing spin it is always Superwash Merino. I love the texture and smooth drafting of Superwash Merino, it really relaxes me and the finish yarn can be knit into something for a non knitter in case they * gasp * don’t handwash!
My favorite yarn to knit with is hands down Superwash Merino in Fingering weight. No contest! It is versatile and lends its self to all of my favorite types of knits.
As for choosing a favorite colour, that is impossible! I adore colour and my favorites change with the seasons. However, I can say my longest standing “favorite” is plum. I fought with my dad for years in high school to paint my bedroom plum and with electric blue trim. After 5 years he finally gave in and it is still those colours today!
Q: Sources of inspiration? What things do you see cropping up over and over in your colorways and/or designs?
Nature, I am always inspired by the colours of nature. The different shades of greens and blues that our eyes take in every day are incredible. I have been lucky enough to travel to many different climates and have found inspiration in the changing landscapes.
Earth is the ultimate palette. All things come from and return to the earth.
Q: What project(s) are you working on in your spare time?
I tend to work on several things at once. I am just finishing up a handspun sweater. I am completely in love with handspun sweaters and try to have one on the go at all times. Sweaters take up a good amount of focus and with a toddler running round I don’t always have time for a 100+ stitch row so I keep a smaller mindless project on the needles at all times. Currently I am finishing up a newborn sweater for one of my six pregnant friends!!
Q: Other mediums you like to work in?
At this point I am obsessed with the yarn and fiber. In those rare “in between” project moments I also love to cross stitch.
Photos © Michelle Szeghalmi-Shirley