Saturday, September 20, 2014, we were at the Chilliwack Spinners & Weavers Guild 2014 "Spin In" at the Rosedale Traditional Community School. As last year (the first time we were invited), it was a blast: refreshments and lunch, spinning galore (of course!), a silent auction, and vendors. What's not to love? This event was crazy-fun!
Everyone who has been following us for any length of time has probably seen how passionate we are for wool, and the history of our carding equipment and business. When we packed up the Vancouver location and moved to Abbotsford, we saw it as an opportunity to move our historic carding machine out of a cramped cinder-block backroom in to a bright, open space where we could share our piece of history with the world. Our landlord at the time was reluctant to do so, but we made a condition of our move-in that the front corner of our shop (an old bank building) be torn out to add additional floor-to-ceiling windows. We have been slowly restoring our equipment and moving towards running the carding machine during store hours as time and finances allow. Our vision has been to handle local, quality wool from shearing through carding and both preserve and celebrate our piece of history from the Industrial Revolution. As much as we would have liked to proceed faster, there never seemed to be a hurry to finish restoring a 133+ year old machine (that was running fine, thank you) for a business which had been running successfully for more than 75 years.
In March, however, after suffering through months of pneumonia which her doctor could not treat, my wife Karyn was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at the age of 36. Without treatment, her oncologist said she had probably three months to live. We have been fighting it ever since to win more time with our three children, and to see our vision for the business realized during her lifetime. Karyn has been responding well to chemotherapy, and we continue to pray for remission.
Recently, we have been able to make some substantial steps towards setting up our fleece washing station, completing our fibre tumbler, and getting our wool picker operational. There is so much more though we want to do, to support local wool producers and fibre artists.
Our options are limited on the timeframe we would like to see our vision for the business realized. For this reason, we have decided to turn to crowdfunding to see if we can accelerate our plans for the company.
We have amazing family, friends, and customers who have blessed us with their support and positive thoughts. We are not, however, looking for charity: we are simply looking for a wider audience for the wonderful product we have, so we can accelerate our business plans. For this reason, we have chosen Kickstarter as a platform over more charity-driven crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo. Choosing Kickstarter means we have 30-days to achieve our funding goal. If we fail to achieve our goal, there is no cost to any of our contributors, and we simply fall back on our slow plans to achieve Karyn's vision gradually through the support of normal store sales.
If you share our vision, however, and would like to offer support, I'd encourage you to check out our Kickstarter project. I think we've selected some wonderful gifts for our backers... you could consider it as early Christmas shopping for the knitter or fibre artist in your life, and at the same time help ensure Karyn's dream for Birkeland Brothers Wool is realized. At the very least, if you think there is someone you know that would be interested in supporting this project, please consider forwarding a link.
On September 13, 2014, Birkeland Bros. Wool was a platinum sponsor for the Lower Mainland Sheep Producer Association's "Wool 'n Ewe A-Fair" and fleece auction, held in the Alice McKay building on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, 6050 - 176 Street, Surrey, BC.
We sponsored the event to announce that we're finally in a position to start washing fleece! We're still no where near finished with our plans, but we finally have the ability to wash and cold air dry wool. We're very happy to be able to expand our service and better support the Lower Mainland wool producers and fibre artists!
The fleece auction was a wonderful event. Beyond the auction there was loads of education on raising sheep, shearing, skirting and grading wool. Vendors, a photo booth (with sheep Ewe and Diva), a yarn bombing by NirvYarnah, felting, rug hooking, and loads of other free fun for the whole family!
On September 13, 2014, Birkeland Bros. Wool also participated in the first ever "Abbotsford Art Studio Tour". Artists from around Abbotsford opened up their studios to tours, and a small number of related "places of interest" like our store were part of the diffuse event. During the day, we had spinning, felting, weaving and knitting/crochet demonstrations with fibre artists from the Abbotsford Spinners and Weaves guild, and Lower Mainland artists like Helen Fields in attendance.
On July 5-6, 2014, Birkeland Bros. Wool was once again right in the middle of Abbotsford's huge Berry Beat Festival, which occupies four blocks in the heart of the historic downtown.
This year as folks walked the events of the Berry Beat Festival, they were able to drop by our store to see demonstrations by the Abbotsford Spinning and Weavers Guild and create their own beads at our wet felting table!
BIRKELAND, Norman Olaf (Norm) passed away peacefully after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's on March 14, 2014 at age 75. Predeceased by the love of his life, wife Judy, he leaves behind loving daughter Cara (Christoph), brother Gordon (Janie), lifelong friend Jerry Stack (Sheila), cousin Harold (Marit) and many loving family and friends across Canada and Norway.
Norm was born on July 11, 1938, in Vancouver and into the family business Birkeland Bros. Wool on 19th and Main. For several decades and for most of his life, Norm remained the heart and driving force behind the business. He loved operating the carding machine from the 1800s, brought by his father from Norway, passed on by Norm and still running today. He enjoyed talking with all his wool and fibre customers. He was very popular, and well known for his kind nature and for his passion for gardening, playing bridge, and ice cream (think of Norm next time you enjoy ice cream).
Cara would like to thank doctors, nurses, and staff at VGH Stat Centre and UBC Purdy Pavilion 4th floor for years of support and care. She would also like to thank the many people in the community for support and kindness during this time.
Please join our celebration of Norm's life at First Lutheran Church, 5745 Wales Street, Vancouver, Saturday May 24, 2014 @ 3:00pm, service followed by a reception. Instead of flowers please consider the Alzheimer Society of BC.
On March 21-22, 2014, Birkeland Bros. Wool once again participated in Fibres West annual event at the Cloverdale Show Barn, 17765 - 62nd Avenue, Surrey, BC.
We were a little more strategic with what we brought to the event this time (the booth was so crowded last year that it was difficult to navigate!) but we also got to showcase a number of new products like merino nepps and slubs, Knitpicks, and silks which were so popular we had to keep bringing back more product from the store in Abbotsford! We also made a lot of people happy about the prospect of our wool fleece wash and picking station being operational this Summer, so we can make the custom carding process simpler for everyone.
Fibres West is a fantastic event for anyone who loves fibre arts. Their mandate is to bring spinning, weaving, felting, knitting, rug hooking, lace making and all other related fibre crafts to the general public. They hire Canadian teachers and invite vendors from BC, Alberta, Washington and beyond to join them annually. More information can be found here: Fibres West