Today on the blog I get to share one of my favourite Indie-dyers with all of you. Bear in Sheep’s Clothing is based in Nothern Ireland and has a strong focus on dyeing British sourced fibres with the lowest impact on the environment as possible. Bernie and Derek have worked hard to build a fun and energetic brand were their personalities are infused into each of their yarns. Read on and why not click some of the links and meet some of their wonderful yarns too.
Hi Bernie, can you give us an insight into your creative background?
I guess I’ve always been creative, but could never really find the right medium for me.. I was too ‘precise’ to enjoy painting or drawing, I would never practice enough to get better.. always thinking I wasn’t good enough! Yarn dyeing is perfect for me! I’ve always been quite pernickety about which colours I like to go together. I can be precise with my recipes and nail my repeatable colourways.. but go completely nuts with speckles too!
Where did the name Bear in Sheep’s Clothing come from?
I’ve always had an affiliation with the bear! It’s big and strong, gives the best hugs and is a fiercely protective mum… which I’d like to think I would be if needs be! Obviously, its the start of my 1st name, and my maiden name was Kerr so I used to get ‘care bear’ when I was growing up! And its a play on the fact that we should just wear wool! Haha!
What was the main influence for starting Bear in Sheep’s clothing?
I think my story is probably similar to a lot of folks.. I rediscovered knitting as an adult when I needed it most. Derek worked a lot and we lived in a remote location with a young baby and another on the way. It was a way for me to feel productive… creating beautiful, functional things! It quickly became an obsession of course and when I first went to EYF I knew that I wanted to be part of the yarnie world! I attended a dye course taught by Terri of Fine Fish Yarns, which I loved so much I instantly booked a slot on the next course but I had to cancel as Derek had to work. To alleviate his guilt he bought me everything I needed to do it myself at home and that was it!
Can you tell us how you developed your colour palette?
Ooh… I don’t know! I guess I only dye what I like! You’ll notice there’s a bit of a blue void in my catalogue of colours! But I am going to work on that (there are some lovely blue/green skeins cooking at the minute!). I’m definitely drawn to autumn colours, with the odd flash or speckle of neon for the craic!
In your opinion what is the best thing about being an Indie Dyer?
Surprisingly, and hands down.. its meeting people! Other makers, because we’re all makers.. from dyers to knitters/crocheters and designers, bag/notion makers and bloggers, I love the respect and comradery. We can all come together and swoon over someone’s make like we’ve known each other forever!
Obviously being self-employed, being able to be at home with the kids.. and being able to work in my PJ’s all factor heavily too!
How do you make your brand stand out in such a competitive industry?
I don’t think I do anything specifically to make it stand out… I just pour my heart and soul into it! I have to love every single colourway as much as the last or it won’t make the cut! I think people appreciate the lack of single-use plastic in my packaging too. My mailing bags are degradable now too so none of my packagings will outlast our beautiful makes! But… I don’t know, these are things that appeal to me so I guess some folk like them too!
Where does your inspiration come from?
Aww wow… all around.. seriously! ‘Protista’ is the name of the kingdom that algae belong to… so I guess I’d have to cite ‘pond scum’ as inspiration haha! Aztec was inspired by a beautiful beaded bracelet, Tutankhamen by a trip to the museum. Rad by crazy colours in ‘Monster high’. A lovely lady came over to me at Woollinn and said she loved that I dyed the Woolly wools fun colours, I wanted to hug her (so I probably did!), I should try and work that into a slogan somehow!
All of your bases are from British herds. why is that important to you?
Oh my goodness, so many reasons! First of all, as a lifelong David Attenborough fan, the thought of flying wool over from other countries, where the farmers aren’t as well paid, the animals might be mistreated and we have perfectly good (in my humble opinion better/more characterful) wool over here? I think its a no-brainer!
Britain is home to more breeds of sheep than anywhere else in the world! More than 60 varieties! So we don’t need to import wool, we need to do our best to conserve our wonderful British breeds, and lower our carbon footprints.
(it might be clear by now my degree is in Environmental science? Haha!)
Currently, which is your favourite base and why?
Well, I’m currently obsessed with Bear Rustic (100% Wensleydale) as I’m knitting a gorgeous lacey cabely jumper with it! Its so lustrous and sheepy and the way it takes dye is just unreal!
Though I’m premiering a couple of new bases at Fibre East at the end of July and I’m completely enamoured with them too! Bear Twist is our new non-superwash, no nylon 100% Corriedale sock yarn, and it’s gorgeous!
And Bear Gotland, oh my days! It’s so lush!
Sorry for being indecisive.. the next new thing always gets us super excited.. am I right?!
What’s in the future for Bear in Sheep’s Clothing? Can we see you at any festivals?
Oh, expect to see more lovely local breeds, hopefully, an Irish yarn soon! We’ll have a sparkly new website, and possibly a dye studio in September when my youngest cub goes into the nursery… and yeah Fibre East 28th and 29th July and Yarnfolk on the 4th August… exciting times ahead!!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for us today Bernie! If you want to find out more about Bear in Sheep’s Clothing then pop over to their website or why not drool over some wonderful images and follow Bernie on Instagram. They also have a fun, Facebok Page, here and if you want to meet this wonderful pair in person than pop over to their YouTube channel. You can also stay up to date with all the latest news from Bernie and Derek with their newsletter. You can find sign-ups on their homepage here just scroll to the bottom of the page.
Please put your fingers on your keyboard and leave a reply to thank Bernie for taking the time to answer questions for the blog. There are some wonderful insights to running a creative business in there along with those wonderful images. All images are under the copyright of Bear in Sheep’s Clothing.
If you liked this post why not share it so others can enjoy it too?
Finally, a huge thank you to all who popped over to Patreon and support the blog and podcast. It means the world to me that I can focus on growing the blog and podcast in a way that we all can enjoy.