I glean fiber where I can, I adopt animals that need homes, I build or buy used equipment and I teach people how to spin so they can make their own art —this is my story…
I moved up to the Olympic Peninsula in 2013, from Livermore California. My husband, Harry, and I longed for cooler weather and a more rural lifestyle, we found exactly what we wanted in the town of Sequim. We live on 10 acres of pasture land and I quickly found a way to use some of the land, chickens! My Husband built me a chicken coop and we established our farm with six little chicks. Well now that I had chickens, we were going to need a name for our farm. I walked around the property where I came upon a grove of Alder trees. I knew, through my spiritual studies, that the Alder was a sacred tree and some of its symbolisms were “Shield and Foundation”, plus it’s where faeries love to play. So it came to be that our farm would be named, Alderwood Farm.
We quickly got to know our shepherd neighbors, Stacey and Agustin Baskeran of Belarzelai Farm, and I was introduced to wool and fiber spinning. Well, I felt Alderwood Farm would be the perfect place to have a few sheep so I could spin their wool but I had to convince Harry, and that wasn’t going to be easy. I talked him into doing a farm tour so off we went to see all the local farms and their animals. I wanted him to see the Icelandic sheep, I thought he would approve of them since they don’t need to be sheared because they rue their fiber, which means we wouldn’t have to pay to have them sheared. He felt that before any decisions were made, we should check out the other farms, so we did. We came across a woman Lorriane Wall of Lost Mountain Fibers. She was spinning Pygora and all it took was one feel of that yarn and I was in love! After talking to Lorriane, an owner of several Pygora goats, I found out how easy the goats would be to care for, (you shear them with a pair of scissors) so Pygora goats were my final choice. Harry agreed on the Pygora goats so now it was time to find some. I searched where to purchase them and would need to travel to Oregon for kids but in my research, I came across a Goat Sanctuary named New Moon Farm and low and behold they had a few adult pygoras ready to be adopted. I chose a pair of does Jemima and Valentine. Once the paperwork was completed, a volunteer delivered them to us. Oh, how the farm is growing — 6 chickens and two goats. Now with a growing farm comes more feed and more feed means the possibility of rodents so my next step was getting barn cats and as luck would have it, our shepherd neighbors cat had kittens, I adopted two, Buddy and Emily.
Things were going smoothly with the farm so it was time to turn my attention to fiber and spinning. With the help of another neighbor, Susie Kroll of Thistlehill Farms, I found a local yarn shop Cabled Fiber Studios, that taught spinning lessons so off I went to sign up. I learned how the spinning wheel worked, how to spin long and short fibers and how to ply them into yarn — I was in heaven — the rhythm of the treadling and the feel of the fiber running through my fingers, I knew I had found my craft!
As my spinning progressed, so did my circle of friends, we formed a small spinning group and that is where I was introduced to the North Olympic Shuttle and Spinning Guild, a local spinning and weaving group. There were programs, workshops, and a wonderful group of people with a huge amount of knowledge for me to learn from.
I continued to practice my traditional spinning, improving and mastering thin even yarns. I explored colors and different fibers and one day I was going through YouTube videos and ran across textured yarns and how to spin them, oh my! I was very intrigued and started to play around with the concept of textured art yarns. You see, a lot of the fiber I had was gleaned from what others didn’t want so it wasn’t always the best quality which meant you didn’t always get consistent yarn. When I saw the art yarns, I knew it would be perfect for my not-so-perfect fiber. Then a member of the guild, Kim Perkins of Batts in the Bellfry and her fiber friend Debra Lambert of Picassos Moon, were doing a workshop of textured art yarn carding and spinning, that was the class for me! With art yarn and textured yarns, I was able to let the artist out in me. I found I could add beads, feathers, and sparkles and spin it thick and thin then ply it with string, yarn or sequins.
Now that I was spinning textured art yarns, I needed to find things to do with it so the search began. What I found was the yarns needed to be knitted with very big needles as a single garment or smaller needles as an accent. I played around and came up with a few patterns that worked.
During Debra’s and Kim’s workshop, I noticed that Debra was successful at selling her textured art yarn textiles, well I wanted to be a success too so it I set up a time to visit The Local Yarn Shop and see if she would be interested in my textured art yarns. I introduced myself and the owner, Terry Mendicino, was thrilled with what I had. She said the tourist love to buy local handspun yarns so bought my whole stash of yarns, and is still buying them today!
Now that I was selling to the public, it was time to come up with a name for my line of yarns and textiles. I thought to myself “what is unique about these yarns?” and the first thing that popped into my mind was-they definitely are not what your mother or grandmother would of knitted with—the light bulb went on and “Not Your Grandma’s Yarn” was born!
At the North Olympic Shuttle and Spinning Guild’s monthly meeting, they have a show and tell time so I decided to give it a go and show off my textured art yarns. There were several women who were interested in learning how to spin these yarns so I figured, why not teach a workshop. That is where “Getting to the Core of Spinning” was introduced. With my one on one encouraging teaching methods and step by step handouts on how to core spin and spiral, stack and coil ply, I was confident my participants would leave knowing how to spin and ply textured art yarns and have the tools to continue on their own.
In conclusion to my story, I continue to educate myself by taking classes, watching videos and discussing with friends. I also enter projects into juried contests at local events so I can get feedback from professionals. I try to spin a little each night, relaxing and feeling the fiber slip through my fingers, creating beauty!