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The evolution of Yurt of Fiber
Ellen and John Lloyd are the amazing proprietors of Olga’s Yurt of Fiber. I had a chance to interview Ellen and learned so much about this expansive, creative enterprise.
“How did you get started?” I asked. She tells me, “Actually, my sister used to meet with a bunch of ladies to do felting. I didn’t know what that was but I decided to take our whole office staff to a class and I was bitten with ‘the bug.’
“The teacher I was working with (in Eastern Washington) insisted that you could only work with a coarse wool; she thought that was all you could do, you couldn’t wear it!”, she laughs.
Lots changed when Ellen moved to Sequim. “When I moved here I was inundated with fiber people and I soon realized I didn’t like paying for fiber.” After she mentioned to a few folks that she would be interested in doing some processing, she got word of an older couple who were finished with their processing business.
“We bought all their equipment and within two months we had a year’s backlog of fiber to process. We tried to take everyone’s wool and store it. That was a steep learning curve. That was 1998.”
Ellen started at the market in 1997. She got to the market in October on the last day of the market and joined thereafter.
“How has your business evolved?” I asked. “The very first time we went to the market, I got my sister to go with me and we had a little table with felted items, sewn dolls and matching clothes for the dolls. We also had an extravagant display that took forever to set up, another steep learning curve. At that time I also made crocheted rugs, I made good rugs and rug kits that were very popular.”
Now her product line includes everything in fiber from washed pieces of sheep, alpaca, llama and angora goat fleece in all stages of processing, including the end result of hand-spun yarn and had felted items.
Ellen tells me she was “born with animals” and always has had them and when they moved to Sequim with a few horses, they we went to her sister’s and got a sheep from her and “she threw in a goat, what a sucker I was.” From there she started to pick and choose sheep for their fiber and got up to a flock of 10 sheep. She says, “I still have my flock but now I buy fiber from the people whose fiber I process.”
She is our longest standing member of the market! I had to ask how she has witnessed the market’s evolution. She said, “The market has grown, it is a lot bigger and now the market runs like well-oiled machine. It also has gotten a lot more positive, you can feel the positivity in the general feel of the market — it is a lot more positive than it used to be.”
As for the importance of the market to the success of Olga’s Yurt of Fiber, she tells me it has been very important in a few different ways.
“I do teach classes and have taught through the community college and fine arts groups. At the market everyone asks if I can teach classes. I have a huge list always wanting classes and lots of people who are interested in processing. We could be processing wool eight hours a day, all year long from people coming through the market and wanting stuff processed. Additionally, it has been a testing ground for me. I get an idea, bring it here and see how it does and then bring it to the bigger shows, mind you some things get buried.” You can talk to Ellen at the market about processing wool.
“We have a website that is half-baked and we still gets lots of traffic,” she says. “We are going to be retiring from our real jobs and will have more time to do lots of things.”
After retiring, she says, “I will have time to make slippers and hand bags, which will be coming and others things I have in my head to make.” Sounds like they will be staying plenty busy. They also make amazing wool comforters.
Something new that you will find in her booth coming up are dreadlocks falls. “I am going to be making dreadlocks falls, a group of dreadlocks you can wear made out of fiber. It’s kind of like a hair extension and I am making purple ones for Lavender Weekend.” She says she will have one ready for Saturday, June 28, you’ll have to come and see what this is!
Finally, she wouldn’t let me go without recognizing how her husband John is integral and helps with every aspect of the business — everything except for felting. “I don’t let him near that, he tries but maybe his fingers are just too big?”
Take in the tunes
The music on June 28 will be the Buck Ellard Band. This will be a debut for us as we have adored having Buck many Saturdays and now he will have a back-up band, including one of our proud sponsors, Neil Culbertson from BrokersGroup Real Estate on the keyboards. Come and enjoy this excellent show. On July 5 we have Cort Armstrong and company coming to make music. This has been an amazing panel of different musicians; each week is something new.
We welcome our latest sponsor, The Right Choice Home Health Care. It is on Bell Street and offers an extensive range of services for in-home care. Employees will be at the market for you to meet and talk about your needs for the next few Saturdays.
Peninsula Friends of Animals will be fundraising with the lovely potholders on July 5.
The Free Family Fun booth will be offering an engaging activity for youths by the Boys & Girls Club from 10 a.m.-noon June 28.
Sequim Farmers Market
When: June 28 and July 5
Hours: Saturdays 9 a.m.-3 p.m. through October
Where: Downtown Sequim, Corner of Sequim Avenue, Washington Street
Contacts: www.sequimmarket.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; 460-2668