Thursday, January 15, 2015

fleece run

I am behind in everything these days. Case in point: the fleeces. Yes, from last year's shearing in March. Part of the problem is that I haven't had a skirting table in months and months; the sawhorses that hold it up were requisitioned for the barn project many months ago, and there they still sit. The other problem is that my favorite processing mill, Ozark, retired last year and I have been paralyzed with indecision about who to use.

And it is January. And Maryland Sheep and Wool is only four three and a half months away. Gulp.

On Tuesday I finally took action, and called the closest fiber mill to our farm: Sweitzer's Fiber Mill near York, Pennsylvania. I had met them a couple of years ago at Maryland, when they were going booth to booth introducing themselves and their new mill. What did I have to lose?

Heather, the owner, promised that if I could get the fleeces to her this week, she would have them done at the beginning of April. So my intrepid parents and I set out for York PA early this morning, with the fleeces finally sorted out and ready to go. Most of the time I need to make a deadline for myself to finally get things done, though when did I get them sorted and ready to go? This morning.

What a great operation the Sweitzers have going! Tucked away on their very rural farm, in a repurposed chicken barn (used by his grandparents to raise a ton of chickens), Heather has quite the operation. Fleeces are washed and dried in a clever arrangement that captures the grey water for use to irrigate their hay fields.

Fiber is picked, blended, carded, spun and plied by different employees, including Heather and her husband. I will be considering having some yarn made next year.

The mill does a LOT of commercial work and the product was very impressive. I can see why she has the volume of work that she does, and I am very grateful that she agreed to help me out!

On the way home, we made a surprise (to my mother) stop at Flying Fibers in Lancaster, PA, a charming yarn store with delightful owners. The purpose was to purchase her retirement gift from my father, an Ashford Joy spinning wheel, now that she will have more time to spend on fibery pursuits.

Luckily her wheel came with a tan carrying case; mine is blue and we would have had a hard time telling them apart otherwise! Rumor has it that she is already spinning away on her new wheel. She's going to have a hard time leaving it for Vogue Knitting Live in NYC tomorrow.

We're Broadway bound, baby!


  1. Wonderful! Congratulations to your mom, and enjoy Vogue Knitting!

  2. Great news for you and your Mother! Flying Fibers is actually close to my home in Lancaster County! Best wishes for getting your roving back for Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival - all will be fine!