March 27, 2020 in Brown Sheep

Looking Back on 40 Years of Yarn

Looking Back on 40 Years of Yarn

The turning of the new year marks our 40th anniversary as a spinning mill — making it a good time to look back and reflect on our journey as a company over the past 40 years.

I had the opportunity to look through Brown Sheep Company’s scrapbook from the early years–it’s amazing to see how much the company has changed, and yet stayed the same, over time. Technology, our mill facilities, and machinery have changed immensely. Yet the focus on family, quality, determination and ability to change over time are qualities that remain constant.

As you may already know, Brown Sheep Company was originally a sheep ranch. Here are some images of the sheep operation during the 1930s and 1940s.

We can almost let the headlines tell the story from here–our scrapbook contains a number of local, regional, and statewide newspaper articles.

These sheep were not bred for their wool, but rather for mutton — which was once a popular grocery item, but took a sharp decline in the late 1970s due to a number of factors. As with any agricultural commodity, markets can change drastically and quickly.

It’s hard to imagine just how difficult it would have been to exit a business you’d been in your entire life, to take a gamble on something completely different. But that’s exactly what Harlan Brown, company founder, did when he decided to try spinning wool instead of raising sheep.

Janet Brown, Harlan’s wife, brought expertise to the new business in the areas of knitting, sewing, and handcrafting.

By 1980, Harlan had purchased a truckload of used spinning equipment and was making yarn within a year.

The mill was up and running.

Here is one of Brown Sheep’s first color cards. Over the past 40 years, we’ve expanded to hundreds more colors.

Brown Sheep Company has always been a family operation, as it is today.

Over the next few decades, our mill expanded to become a nationally recognized company.

Here is the evolution of our logo over the past 40 years.


As our 40th anniversary arrives, we are excited to continue to innovate and adapt as a company– we can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

We are fortunate to have such an inspirational precedent set for our company in its beginnings. Thanks for being part of our journey!

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