My first true Farm to Needle maker experience.
It all started at the Carlisle, PA Art Festival fall of 2017. We were visiting our daughter, Bizz, at Dickinson’s parent’s weekend. The art festival each year is amazing and there are several fiber vendors among the artists and food exhibits. Most importantly, Mulberry Hill Farm, run by Coleen and Sean Lacey.
The Lacey’s took me under their wing and began to share with me first-hand all that was involved in running their sheep farm. Now both “retired” and wanting to have some fun…they bought an old motel and converted it into a small sheep farm complete with chickens and Rocco, their funny black lab mix. (Kitty likes to remain incognito!).
In addition to their 8 sheep, now more like 12. Coleen and her daughter Megan have become brilliant hand dye specialists of their own farm yarn and prewashed merino. Distelfink yarn brand was born and Sean built a small studio shop on the corner of their property to sell their yarn and Coleen’s stunning hooked rug and wall hangings. You can schedule a personal visit their shop virtually here.
During my first visit I met Oakley. One of the few brown fleece sheep in their flock and one of the older, more mature females that pretty much lead the pack after Miss Maggie. My kind of girl from the start! On a subsequent visit, I got to see all the sheep sheared by the impressive Emily Chamelin-Hickman @sheargrazing on Instagram. Check it out!
After which Pink Imperfection had its first farm to needle retreat. Six of us visited the Lacey’s to learn about sheep breeds, what makes their fiber awesome for spinning and knitting (or crocheting). We got to work with the fiber freshly sheared, cleaning the vegetation out of the fiber, carding it with a hand cranked carding machine and even a chance to spin a little bit.
As I was working with Oakley’s fleece it transformed into a personal connection. This was the first year her shearing revealed she was going grey…just like ME! I asked the Lacey’s how much yarn a single fleece would make and voila! I bought the entire fleece, and had it spun into 29 skeins of yumminess for me to knit, crochet, or just hug as a skein back in my home in Connecticut. Here is my first project. This blanket keeps me warm every morning while I have my coffee and has also become the favorite spot for our kitty, Bobo.
Working with yarn where you personally know the sheep and have a personal bond makes knitting VERY special. There are so many articles and scientific research on the benefits of making with our hands, but this went beyond that. It transported me back to Mulberry Hill Farm every time I picked up my needles. Any negative or frustrated mood was immediately erased. Thank you Oakley! And thank you Sean and Coleen for opening a whole new meaning to making…truly farm to needle.