We have another special brand to share that you are bound to fall in love with - if you aren’t already! Juniper Moon Farm has a unique history and has paved the way for so many. From television to the farm, we hope you enjoy learning a little more about this beautiful brand!
© Juniper Moon Farm
Susan Gibbs was a successful television producer for CBS, but felt strained by demanding 70-hour work weeks. By chance - or luck! - Susan stumbled into the world of sheep and consumed information on raising a flock of her own. Not long after, she had a farm in New York and five sheep to her name. Her love for the farm and her flock grew and after a stop in Martha’s Vineyard, she ended up purchasing Juniper Moon Farm near Charlottesville, Virginia.
To help support her work, Susan created the first fiber CSA or community supported agriculture program. People purchased shares and received yarn or fiber in return. Members also received emails with farm updates, photos and even access to a LambCam! Susan included member-only events, shearing festivities and opportunities to help out on the farm itself too! After nearly a decade of operating on and enjoying the CSA model, however, the Juniper Moon Farm flock was allowed to retire, and Susan shifted her business to the commercial line of yarns she’d begun curating.
Working with Knitting Fever, Inc (KFI), Susan has developed a thoughtful collection of yarns that are now enjoyed by makers around the world. Each yarn is also paired with patterns from accomplished designers that showcase the exceptional quality and beauty of the fibers.
We had the opportunity to ask Juniper Moon Farm founder Susan Gibbs a few questions, and she was so sweet to share the following with us. We have a feeling you’ll enjoy her story and feel the joy and energy
MFY: Tell us the story behind the name of the brand. Was that the name of the farm when you purchased it?
Susan: Juniper Moon Farm was originally Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm when I began back in 2007. We left the Vineyard for Virginia in 2009, which, of course, meant we needed a new name. We really agonized over this decision for ages, making lists of words we liked and trying them out in different ways. Nothing was really speaking to me until Juniper Moon popped into my head. It was the only name that all of my employees, family and friends liked immediately, so it was meant to be.
MFY: How has Juniper Moon evolved since retiring from the CSA component?
Susan: We retired the CSA back in 2013, but I had already been working with KFI and producing our commercial line of yarns for a few years before then. Originally, the farm/CSA was about 90% of my work day and the commercial line was 10%. Very quickly those numbers reversed and retiring the CSA was an obvious choice. We were the first Yarn CSA in the world, but it was a successful model and other farms quickly followed suit. And our farm yarn was limited by how many sheep we could raise, which was in turn limited by how much pasture we had. Re-focusing JMF on the commercial lines has allowed us to expand the Juniper Moon ethos and aesthetic to yarn shops all over the world, and to work with some truly amazing designers like Pam Wynne, Claudia Wersing and - coming this Fall - the incomparable Melissa Leapman.
MFY: Do you have a favorite yarn? Is that like asking if you have a favorite child?
Susan: It is like asking me to choose my favorite child! Strictly in terms of loyalty, I feel honor-bound to say Findley. Findley was the very first yarn I worked with Knitting Fever to produce and it has grown and grown in popularity every single year for the last ten. It’s a truly fantastic yarn, and it came on the market at a time when there was nothing like, really filling a gap. I hear from knitwear designers and knitters alike that Findley is their go-to yarn. But, I have to say, if I’m knitting for myself, 9 times out of 10 I am knitting with Herriott.
MFY: What is your favorite part of your process? (Is it naming colorways, because we think that would be challenging but super fun!)
Susan: You are 100% correct about naming colors. And I have a lot of rules about it. Every season there are one or two colors that nearly drive me to drink. Most yarn companies of our size don’t name their colors, but it’s something I have always insisted on. The colors are part of the story and the names really help the knitter connect to the yarn.
My favorite part of the process is choosing new yarns. I’m very particular about the kinds of yarns that fit the JMF story, so I reject far, far more than I fall in love with, but getting a box of yarn in the mail has never stopped being exciting.
MFY: Are you a knitter/crocheter/weaver?
Susan: I am a knitter who can weave adequately and crochet terribly. I don’t know what it is about crochet, but my brain cannot put it together with my hands. I’m really good at making a long chain, but getting sort of over there to make the second row is some kind of voodoo that I can’t figure out.
MFY: If yes, what are you working on? What is your go-to type of project?
Susan: Since becoming a mom, I knit infrequently but enthusiastically! I can really only attempt simple things, because there is zero chance that I won’t have to put my project aside for long periods of time. I specialize in what my sister calls “movie theater knitting”— things I don’t have to look at or pay much attention to while I knit.
MFY: What do you do outside of crafting?
Susan: I am a documentary photographer when I’m not working with yarn. I also have a vegetable garden that fills me with so much joy in the spring and summer, and I spend as much time as possible with my husband and my kids. As terrible as 2020 was, I wouldn’t trade one moment of the time my family and I got to have together as a result.
MFY: What makes the fiber arts community special?
Susan: I have made more life-long friends in the fiber arts community than in any other area of my life. There is something really wonderful about the fact that people have come together and built a community based around what is, essentially, a very solitary pursuit.
I also think that making something— something practical and useful— with your own hands is a really validating and empowering to women of all ages. I’ve heard Stephanie Pearl McPhee talk about how knitters feel comfortable being proud of their knitting in a way that might feel like boasting or bragging in other areas of our lives. There’s something really lovely about that, I think.
MFY: Any non-fiber-producing pets? Is there an office animal?
Susan: We have so many animals that it’s very tempting to lie about it, but I won’t. We have two Bernese Mountain Dogs and an older Shiba Inu, two guinea pigs, one hamster, two aquatic frogs, 9 hens and two turkeys, and four pigeons. My six-year-old loves animals of all kinds and would like to own a zoo some day. I feel like we already do. One of our Berners, Dickens, is very much my dog, and wherever I am working, he is sure to be right beside me.
We carry a number of Juniper Moon Farm yarns, but they have an incredible selection of weights and bases to choose from from angora to llama to cotton to linen to wool.
If you’re looking for pattern inspiration, you can find a vast array of patterns designed in Juniper Moon Farm yarns on KnittingFever.com. Shown here are the Herbie Mittens designed by Pamela Wynne in Herriott.
To learn more and engage with Juniper Moon Farm, we encourage you to follow them on Facebook!