Over the years, we have been asked why and how we got interested in the fiber industry. This is the story of why and how it started.
This is the strange but true story of how the Little League mother opened a knitting store. Watching youth sports can be stressful for the mothers of the athletes. Elaine Sipes was no different.
Feeling every scrape from sliding into home, feeling the pain of every strike-out, the elation of every run scored, the bumps from the collisions on the bases, Elaine’s enjoyment could quickly turn to anxiety. Not attending the games was not an option, who can miss their children’s events?
Elaine turned back to an old trick she learned as a child. Elaine was taught to knit by her sister at age four. Elaine always found knitting to be quite calming. Knitting while sitting in the stands had a calming effect. It works at concerts, Rockies games, long car rides, and even watching television.
While knitting in the stands, Elaine was approached by the father of another young baseball player. This father, Rob Johnston, had been watching Elaine. Bob expressed an interest in what Elaine was using for yarn and where it came from. Elaine explained that she was what she considered herself to be a yarn “snob” and used yarn that came from natural (mostly animal) sources. Rob’s interest got bigger. Rob owned a small farm outside of Wellington and was looking for a new purpose for land.
Rob and Elaine began discussing developing a herd of fiber animals in the stands of a little league baseball game. In the blink of an eye, and a couple of trips to angora goat ranches, Elaine, her husband Darrell and Johnston family became the proud owners of a herd of angora (mohair) goats.
Owning goats was a huge lifestyle change for Elaine. She spent the early part of her life in the suburbs of Chicago. After moving to Colorado (while in elementary school) she didn’t show interest in livestock. She did however, win a blue ribbon in knitting at 4-H.
After purchasing the first “few” goats with Rob, Elaine began attending livestock auctions. At one particular “goat auction” Elaine surprised Darrell by bidding on a couple of llamas. In what became the turning point of the fiber farm, Elaine was the low bidder and now owner of the llamas.
The llamas came from a ranch in Nebraska and had been running wild since birth.span> Elaine borrowed a trailer to take the llamas to the Johnston ranch. Upon reaching the ranch, the door of the trailer was opened, the llamas bolted, and they were not touched by Elaine (or anyone else) for four months. The llamas again, picked up the life they had been accustomed to and began running wild within the confines of the Johnston property. (100 acres). After about four months the llamas felt comfortable enough to actually let Elaine pet them.
Needless to say Elaine was hooked; Rob succumbed to his children’s request to get into the cattle business. Seems they wanted to be cowboys (no one wants to be a goat boy or llama boy).
It wasn’t long before Elaine had more fiber than she could use. Selling fiber, yarn and finished goods at trade shows kept Darrell from needing to build a bigger house to store Elaine’s stuff.
Elaine and her husband Darrell have continued on with their fiber animals. Seven years ago they moved to the Cherokee Park region in northern Colorado .The children are long finished with Little League. The goats are now gone (living life in Newcastle, Wyoming). The Sipes herd has evolved into llamas, alpacas, and yaks. The Sipes’ have taken Elaine’s interest in knitting to producing their own yarn, as well as, designing knitted and woven garments which have been featured and sold at art and trade shows, literally, around the world.
Last November, the Sipes’ opened “Your Daily Fiber” a fiber based store in Fort Collins, Colorado, in an effort to promote the fiber industry. The store features yarns from their animals, as well as yarns from friends they have met along the way.
Our crazy lives