Here at the shop we have been looking for some ethically produced, knitter friendly hand products to carry for our customers. We were so happy to find Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe, a small business in the US that produces just that. We have a few scents in a solid lotion bar that includes lanolin, a natural oil produced by sheep in their fleeces, and also in a goats milk soap. The scents are all made from essential oils.
We were happy to have a little interview with Alicia, the founder of Sweet Sheep and ask her a few questions about her business, and of course, knitting!
How long have you been knitting?
I learned to knit in 2006 when I had knee surgery and was stuck in bed for 6 weeks. However, I didn’t really get obsessed with it until 2009 when I began graduate school. I needed a creative outlet to balance out all the left-brain thinking I was doing and knitting fit the bill nicely.
What inspired you to get into making all natural body products?
I began making natural body products when I came across a lotion bar at a Stitches East event. I liked the concept, especially for knitters and anyone who works with wool, because my hands are always so dry from handling yarn. However, I didn’t like the texture or intensity of fragrance of the bar I tried, and decided to come up with my own recipe. Plus, I really wanted to use lotion that contained lanolin, since it’s great for your skin AND derived from sheep’s wool, so I had to make it myself.
You are a biologist by day and a soap and lotion maker by night. Is there any crossovers between your two professions?
My biology training comes into play when I’m reading up about essential oils or the different properties of the plant-derived oils, waxes, and butters I use in my products.And because of my ecological background, I’m conscious of the environment and of the chemical effects of the things I use on my body, so making and using skin care products that don’t contain petrochemicals (derived from oil) is important to me.
Can you tell us a bit more about how you make your products?
My lotion bars and lip balms are made following a similar process: I first melt beeswax in a double boiler, then add vegetable butters and allow them to simmer for a while, then the oil components, lanolin, and finally the fragrances. Then the mixture is poured into molds or lip balm tubes and allowed to set. The soap I make is the melt-and-pour variety. I purchase large amounts of high quality, pre-made soap and then melt it down, color and fragrance it, and pour it into molds or layers depending on the type of bar I’m making. Since the lotion bars and lip balms are the same process every time, soap-making has been a really fun way for me to get more creative with colors/textures/etc.
Are you a process or product knitter?
I like to think I’m a product knitter, since I’m a selfish knitter and love to keep and wear every FO I produce, but in truth, I have so many WIPs on the needles that I don’t think I can say that. I feel like a product knitter would be more dedicated to the finish than I am, and sometimes I just cast on socks to have something simple to knit while I read, not because I need more socks. 🙂
What are you currently knitting?
This holiday season has been extremely busy for me with Sweet Sheep orders, wholesale orders, and moving to a new apartment so my active knitting time has suffered! However I recently finished a bulky weight hat (Galicia pattern on Ravelry) and I always have a pair of socks on the go. To switch it up from socks a little bit, I’m currently knitting a Sockhead hat, but it’s still very simple, on-the-go type travel knitting (my favorite kind).