August Pop-Up Shop: Long Island Yarn & Farm!

We are very excited to announce our 2020 Pop-Up Shop series! Each month, we will be featuring an indie yarn dyer or company, showcasing their yarn, and highlighting perfect patterns to go with them! We'll also share an interview with the owners and designers here on the blog. All photos courtesy of Long Island Yarn & Farm.

This August, our Pop-Up Shop is none other than Long Island Yarn & Farm! Run by the effervescent Tabbethia Haubold-Magee, Long Island Yarn and Farm really has it all! Each of their bases feature unique blends of wool, alpaca, silk, bamboo, and more - so that each colorway within the base is unique as well! We adore their soft and stunning yarns, and it's even better getting to meet all the animals they come from! 

We got to sit down with Tabbethia for a minute to talk about everything Yarn and Farm related! Read on for a short interview, and check out our Instagram this week - Tabbethia is taking over to bring us even more!

How did Long Island Yarn and Farm start?

Long Island Yarn and Farm found its beginnings in 1996 officially, but as an animal lover and a horse crazed kid, it is a passion I was born with that has organically cultivated itself over the years. Originally Long Island Livestock Company, my first introduction to llamas was actually part of my job fresh out of college with an Animal Science degree working for Cornell Cooperative Extension on an educational farm. There was a dog attack on our sheep flock and my executive director had read about llamas being used as livestock guardians, hence it was my job to further explore. From this single incident, my love of llamas began, although I will also often attribute it to the fact that I was putting horses on the back burner at that time due to the fact that mom and dad were no longer paying for my horse habit, so there was room in my heart for another animal! After a few years of getting comfortable with the care of llamas, I learned to spin and the textile end of my business began to blossom from there. I remember my early days of selling handspun yarn when I didn’t even know how to knit yet! 10 years in, the evolution and diversity of my business continued, and I finally jumped ship from my comfortable government job, to embark on my own educational fiber farming journey. Twenty years later, fiber had become such a large part of what we do, that we recently rebranded to more accurately describe who we are and what we are about. Our mission statement is to put a Face with the Fiber, and in the creation of our own yarns and through the hand knit garments you make, connecting people to the animals we love. 

Where do you find your inspiration for colors? Is there any particular color that has special meaning to you?

My inspiration for color always comes from the natural colors of the animal and nature. Our base yarn is always the natural color of the fiber and not dyed to be consistent which is why some of our lines will change from one batch to the next. Our dye lot is nature and what the animal gives us. Black fiber can range in color and texture with flecks of white or reds and browns. Grays can have various hues and there are many shades of brown from fawn to red. And you will often find me saying “this is as white as real white gets” when you see what may appear more cream or ecru and can carry peachy tones. And from one year to the next, even the same animal will have slight variations in their coat color. Now even someone like myself can appreciate a pop of color, the colors we know we can’t get from our fiber animals (although that would be fun!). But even then, my colors are muted, soft and earthy. None of our yarns are dyed in the original sense of the word. Instead we create our colors by blending in dyed fibers prior to spinning which results in depth and texture within the yarn and often a heathered, almost tweedy look. We are also known for our ability to play with dyed silk sari in a palette of colors that allows me to create interesting yarns that will rival the speckled trend. You will find a variety of everything I have mentioned in this line of yarns that I designed exclusively for our JBW Pop Up Shop. More than 95% of these yarns are colors and/or fiber blends that I have not done before. What fun we had in making this for you and we hope you love it!

What’s the craziest place you’ve ever knitted or crocheted?

My story does not start with one of knitting as it does for most people in this industry. It started with a love of animals and my introduction to llamas. And after being around these beautiful creatures for a few years my interest and passion for the textiles they could inspire further developed. I had not knitted since a young child nor was it even in my family history, although I had a very creative mom resulting in the most fabulous school projects growing up! My knitting story even goes one more step backwards from the norm as I learned to spin first before I started picking up sticks. So early on, I would drag my spinning wheel everywhere and even remember having it on the beach at one point! Once I learned to knit, obviously that was way more portable and admittedly I had much more time to knit and create in the early days of Long Island Yarn and Farm. Since I find myself on the road quite a bit, that means that as a Long Islander, we are subject to New York City traffic which can often double the length of your trip and often leave you at a stand still or moving no more than 5 miles an hour. I might have found myself a time or two knitting in traffic! Thankfully there were no hands-free laws at that time!

What has been the biggest challenge for you in driving your business?

The diversity in my business and brand can be my biggest challenge. Yet while diversity can be my challenge, in this current Covid climate, diversity has also been our greatest asset. If I am asked to describe LIYF as a brand, we have 5 subsets. One -The breeding, showing and sales of llamas along with any youth and educational programs related to them. Two - My shearing and livestock services as a professional shearer. Three - Providing both on-farm and community outreach educational programming with our fibered animals. Four - our LIFY yarn and value added fiber goods and related notions and accessories. Five - our all natural lanolin based skin care line. So at any one point in time, these various aspects of my business can pull me in different directions and none can get 100% of my time all at once. Yet in a time where we have lost our llama shows, our traditional opportunities for educational programs and direct to consumer retail, my shearing season and online sales of our skin care line carried us through the initial uncertain times while we took on the challenge to creatively recreate our business as we once knew it. We can all chose to look at the positives in any situation for a greater outcome in the end.

And just for fun - if you could design a fiber-themed parade float, what would it look like?

Well everyone knows I am all about education and making it fun! So I would imagine that my float would have a larger than life alpaca and llama carefully crafted using the natural fiber and colorfully decorated with native textiles and colors as they do in South America. The people on the float dressed in cultural clothing and Peruvian music playing. The llama and alpaca on the float would have moving parts to appear life-like, but you have to know that the best part would be the real llamas (and our alpaca Kuzco) that we would have walking alongside the float as we walked along the parade path! 

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