All our yarn is locally produced – the sheep and goats are farmed in the Karoo and parts of the Northern, Southern, Western and Eastern Capes. South Africa is the biggest mohair producing country in the world, responsible for more than half the global production annually, and also produces excellent quality merino wool. The wool is cleaned and combed in local factories, where most of our yarns are commercially spun, with a small proportion of handspun done (by hand!) in the Eastern Cape.
We use commercial acid-wool dyes, which are azo-free and comply with European safety and environmental standards.
Some people say they are very sensitive to wool and find it scratchy. We all have different skin sensitivities. We work with good quality fibre and the wool is the finest you can get in this country.
For most people wool only starts to feel scratchy when they are too hot. When the fibre gets warm it “opens” kind of like a flower as it has “scales” surrounding an air core, which expands when it warms up. These scales are what makes wool felt, and when it’s warm they open and make it a little more scratchy – so usually when it feels scratchy it’s because it’s time to take it off and put it back on again when you’re cold.
Most of our wool is superwash treated to remove the scales and make the yarns machine washable. This makes it generally less scratchy.
We hand dye everything at cowgirlblues. Most of our yarns are commercially spun, the rest spun by hand. Our ready-to-wear products are knitted by machine and finished by hand. And we over-dye everything.
All dyeing is done in our studio in Maitland.
Yes. One of my customers, a man, bought a knit neckwarmer in the winter. As it started getting warmer he told me he was driving to work with the air conditioning on and all the car windows down so that he could still wear it, because even though it wasn’t really cold enough he didn’t want to take it off!
Definitely, it’s an important part of what we do and we intend to grow this into a big small business. We have 5 women working in the studio who are involved in various aspects of making and finishing the products.
We think so. In South Africa sheep and goat farming is a “free range” activity. The animals live outdoors and the farmers are passionate about their livestock and do their best to keep them healthy, strong and happy.
For a sheep or an angora goat being shorn or clipped is like going for a haircut. Sometimes they get little cuts if they wriggle, a little bit like someone might nick themselves shaving.
South African farmers do not practice mulesing which is widely used in Australia.
We are very conscious of our environmental impact and do our best to be as low-impact as possible. Wool and mohair natural fibres are renewable – the sheep and goats are still roaming the Karoo and produce many seasons of fleece. An adult ram/ewe can produce 5kg of fleece. In some parts of the country they are shorn twice a year, in others only once, so that’s up to 10kg of fleece each year, which can go a pretty long way, when you think that our lighter scarves and shawls use less than 100g of material, and you can knit a scarf of sweater with 200-500g of yarn.
The dyeing process requires a fair amount of water. We have 25,000l of rainwater collection capacity from our factory roof, and this is used for dyeing. We are very conscious of water usage and try to keep this to a minimum, and we re-use and recycle water as much as possible. We try to use our dyebaths to exhaustion to minimise any dye left in the waste water. And we use good quality commercial dyes that meet all the European safety standards.
We do explore and experiment with natural dyes. Many of them are plant derivatives and require large quantities of bark, flowers, roots, etc. Sometimes this is taking a food source that could be feeding a hungry person, otherwise it can be a a big environmental load. So for now it’s still an exploration. We are also looking into some of the newer technologies for dye production like microbial dyes. This is very much in the experimental stages and we hope to do some testing for commercial use soon.
Our products need to be looked after carefully. Handwashing is preferable, although most of our yarns are superwash treated. We recommend a lukewarm water bath with gentle detergent is all it needs. Squeeze it gently in the water, support it when it’s wet, rinse in more cool water and dry it flat in the shade, reshaping while it’s damp.
Yes we do, we basically ship anywhere in the world.
We have a distributor in Germany and shops all over Europe stock our yarns. We also sell to customers in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and the USA, have a look at our website for more information.
Yes we do, here in Cape Town we supply Knit Shoppe Love, Big Tree Designs and Estie Craft Shop. In KZN you can contact Be Inspired, and in Gauteng Yarn at Zelle or The Yarn Tree. Have a look at our website for more.
First wind the skein into a ball. You can hang the skein over the back of a chair and roll it into a ball. If you try and knit straight from the skein by just pulling one of the ends you will end up with a HUGE mess. In the old days, a man used to show how much he loved someone by holding the skein looped onto both his hands while she wound it into a ball… not a bad test.
If you need wool for a specific project we will batch dye it all together for you. Otherwise we dye in batches based on orders for our wholesale customers.
Hand dyeing yarn is a small batch process so there is variation between skeins, especially when dyeing multi-colours. We try and keep the colours as consistent as possible.
When knitting/crocheting with hand-dyed yarns it’s a good idea to introduce a new ball or skein slowly… as you are approaching the end of a ball introduce the new ball and knit 2 rows in the new then 2 rows in the old ball and continue alternating for at least 10 rows. This will stagger any change in colour so it’s not too noticeable.
My personal opinion yes it is, hand dyed yarn is more personal just to know that a person used her hands, energy, and concentration in getting the colour right. Hand dyed yarn is done in small batches vs. commercially dyed yarn. Commercial dyeing is done in pressurised machines which forces colour into the yarn and means it’s evenly applied across the yarn. Hand dyeing is much more fluid, the colour intensity will vary across one ball and it looks a lot more alive and natural.
We don’t offer refunds but you are more than welcome to make an exchange provided that your product is still in its original packaging, so yarn balls or skeins should be in the same format with the label intact. We don’t do returns or exchanges on sale items.
Yes absolutely, we wholesale and retail our yarns. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your details so we can contact you. We export our yarns all over the world and have a distributor in Europe that we can put you in contact with.
This is a tricky question and it depends on many factors.
If you are knitting to a pattern, follow the gauge instructions for the pattern by starting with a tension square of 10x10cm in the recommended needle size.
If you are knitting without a pattern we have recommended needle sizes on our labels, and from there it depends on your personal preferences. You can really do whatever makes you happy.
There is no difference at the pointy end. They are both just needles that come in a range of sizes.
If you are wanting to knit something in the round eg a beanie, snood, socks then circular needles make it quite easy as you can knit around and around, instead of knitting flat and joining afterwards.
If you are knitting a project with a lot of stitches, e.g. a big shawl or jersey, then circular needles are helpful because your stitches don’t fall off. But it’s mostly a personal preference thing.
Its been going for about 8 years, it depends on when you start counting.
How do you treat yours? We think of our team as more of a family than just employees or colleagues. We treat each other with respect, dignity and kindness. Empowering ourselves and each other is a VERY important part of what we do at cowgirlblues. We encourage each other to learn and grow, we celebrate successes and try to learn from our mistakes. And we are big on birthdays, they are celebrated with cake and Happy Birthday songs in multiple languages.
If you have a discount code you can apply it at checkout. You’ll see a box where you can enter the code and the appropriate discount will be applied.
We offer flat rate shipping in South Africa at R99 per parcel. If the value of your order is greater than R950 then shipping is free.
For international shipping, we offer a flat rate of $20 with DHL.
Please note we do not ship to P.O. Boxes. Our couriers will need a signature to deliver.
We ship worldwide, as long as a valid delivery address and postal code given.
Local orders will also be delivered to your door or any address that we are given.
We ship locally with Fastway or Aramex, and our international shipping is done with DHL.
We ship locally with Fastway, a very friendly courier service. They usually take about 2-3 days to deliver your parcel.
If you live in an outlying area in SA we will ship with Aramex which also works out at approximately 2 days delivery time.
Our international shipping is done with DHL and they are super efficient. Their shipping time varies per country but is approximately 4-6 working days.
The courier company will always attempt to deliver your parcel to your order. If no one is home they will usually try and call you to find out when they can deliver, alternatively they will try and deliver on the next delivery run. Our couriers have never lost a parcel, I hope that doesn’t jinx us. They will always get in contact with you or let us know that they are having problems delivering.
With DHL we give them your email address so that you know exactly what the status of your parcel is.
We send an email with the tracking details as soon as your parcel has shipped. We will also let you know if there is a delay in dispatching for any reason, for example if you ordered something that is on backorder and we need to dye it for you.
Once you have your tracking number and tracking website you can track your parcel.
With international shipments we give DHL your email address so that you know exactly what the status of your parcel is.
Ordering from us is pretty easy. As you browse our online shop simply click the “Add to cart” button on any product page to add the item to your shopping cart. Once you’ve finished shopping click the shopping trolley icon to go to the checkout page. Enter your credit card or Paypal details to make payment, and your address information for shipping and it should all work smoothly.
If you have any problems you can contact the studio on +27 (0)71-0834850 or email us on email@example.com and we will make it happen!
Yes. We don’t yet offer an automatic gift card purchase online. Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of your gift card request and we will set this up.
For international orders you pay with Paypal. For local orders you can pay via Yoco or Payfast using a credit or debit card.