Ohio Natural Fiber Network
It was a busy weekend for the humans at That'll Do Farm. The animals had the weekend off. They got to stand around eating hay and sipping water while their people were out and about.
Saturday was the monthly meeting of the Ohio Natural Fiber Network. The Network is a group of fiber producers from around the state that get together to promote locally grown fibers. Our goal is to make people aware that they can find a huge selection of Ohio born-and-raised fiber right here in their own backyard. Imported yarns are indeed beautiful and sometimes irresistible, but if one out of every five yarn purchases could be from a local fiber farmer, think of the amount of dollars that would stay in the local economy. I know I get preachy about local food and fiber, but it is something I belive in with my whole heart.
Nina Winchester of Cross Wind Farm & Fiber in Berlin Center is raising Pygora goats. She made this beautiful vest from the fiber of one of her goats.
Not only is Nina a talented goat herder, but man can she create a beautiful garment! It is delicate, yet sturdy. Lightweight, yet warm. And soft as soft can be.
Linn Parise of Top Notch Alpacas in Madison is modeling for us. My apologies to Linn. It appears I was unable to get a picture of her with her eyes open. We are lucky she has enough personal style to carry off this vest with or without her eyes open!
Nina also brought some of her handspun yarn, including some royal blue-ish Shetland yarn. I'm normally not a blue person, but that skein is calling me big time. I rationally tell myself I need more yarn like I need another hole in my head, but then all that rational thought flies out one of those holes and I'm pretty sure that blue yarn is going to be mine!
This month's meeting was at Criation Station Alpaca Farm in Oberlin. Farm owner Marcee Stephenson, yet another talented fiber artist, showed us some of her gossamer-like scarves.
And her needle felted soaps. I especially loved the acorn version.
I'm also a fan of her felted coasters. Now if only I could get the dogs to put their drinking glasses down on the bone-shaped one.
Farmer Gal Marilyn spent her Saturday at the Camelid Health Conference in Columbus.She came back with her head swimming with information. Farmer Gal is one of those people that "gets it" when it comes to science-like lectures on animal care. They would make my eyes roll back into my head, but I think our animals are very grateful they have Farmer Gal on their side!
Sunday on the farm was filled with gardening classes.
We had seed starters and lasagna gardeners. Our next gardening class will be tomatoes on April 22, followed by Gardening for Birds, Bees and Butterflies on the 29th and Composting on May 20th.
I think one of our lasagna gardening students would rather be a chicken farmer than a produce farmer!
If you've read this blog for any length of time, you may have picked up on the fact that I am passionate about a few things, namely local food and local fiber. (Chocolate enters into the whole passionate thing, but we'll leave that for another day.)
I know that a tomato from our fields tastes better than anything you can get at a grocery store. I know that our chickens forage for a healthy diet, supplemented by grain given to them by us, and that this diet is responsible for the fabulous taste of their eggs. I know that you get the full flavor of the farm in every drop of our honey, not flavor that has been strained and pasturized out, leaving you with nothing but sweet honey-colored liquid.
I guess that makes me a locavore -- "a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market."
And as passionate as I am about local food, I am equally passionate about local fiber. I guess that makes me an Ohiofibervore -- "a person interested in knitting or spinning fiber that is produced by fiber farmers in the state of Ohio, not produced overseas or by large mills." O.K., I made that definition up, but I think you get my meaning.
My home state is rich in fiber farms. We have more alpacas than any other state in the country.
Ohio is also home to sheep, goats, rabbits and llamas, which all produce some of the nicest fiber you'll find anywhere.
(Jacob Sheep photo from Roving Acres Farm)
Just as local foods have a terroir (taste of place) unique to the individual farm, so does local farm yarn. This is fiber you just can't buy at your local craft store, or even at most of your local knitting stores.
This is yarn designed by the fiber farmer -- the person who has raised and cared for their animals in the best possible way. The fiber farmer that knows how each fleece will "behave" when turned into yarn. The fiber farmer who knows how to spin their animals fiber for the most loft, or best drape, or whatever else is important to that specific farmer.
It is yarn with the terroir of the farm. Until fairly recently, it wasn't that easy to find local farm yarns. Yearly fiber festivals were your best bet.
But in Ohio, it is easier than ever to find these great, unique yarns. We have an organization called the Ohio Natural Fiber Network.
The Network is made up of fiber farmers and artists around the state. That'll Do Farm is a proud member of the Network and I am honored to be the group's president.
You can help support the Network's members (or local fiber farmers in your area) by making 2012 the year you go on a Local Fiber Diet.
No, that doesn't mean you have to eat bran flakes or anything boring like that. It means that we ask you to think about your yarn, roving or raw fleece purchases. Can you source your next sweater locally? What about your next spinning project? Could it be a mix of alpaca and llama from a local farm?
Check out the various farms on the Network's website. Each one has a unique story to tell. Some of the fiber farmers specialize in dyeing fiber, or weaving, handspinning, or felting. If you see something interesting, send them an e-mail or drop by their farm. Our farmers are as passionate about their animals as I am.
As the Network continues to grow in 2012, I hope you check its website often and use it as your go-to site for listings of Ohio fiber events, classes, or new yarns.
Give local fiber a try this year. With the huge selection available to you, we think this could be one diet you'll be able to stick to!
Saturday is going to be an All Fiber, All The Time kind of day.
That'll Do Farm is a member of the Ohio Natural Fiber Network, a group of fiber producers and artists that are sold on the idea that local fiber, from a farmer and animal you know, is the best possible fiber out there. If it's hand dyed by a local artist, so much the better!
River Colors Studio in Lakewood has invited the Network to take part in Ohio Fiber Day on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
Local artists and fiber producers will be on hand to show customers why Ohio yarns are "all that" and then some. Network members are bringing locally grown, beautiful alpaca, llama, rabbit, sheep and goat fiber, in yarn, fleece and roving form.
If you are a swooner over soft, wonderful fiber, Saturday is your day!
Come on out and watch the hand dyeing and painting demos at 1, 2 & 3 p.m., as well as carding, spinning, and needle felting demos throughout the afternoon.
Destination Yarn will be there, too, with some new colorways.
Bring a chair. Stay for the day and knit. Or spin. Or just talk. Dewey's Pizza is right around the corner -- walking distance! -- from the studio so you can stroll on over their for lunch and perhaps some liquid refreshment.
I think it's a perfect way to spend the day. I hope you can join us.
You've all probably pretty much figured out that 2011 has arrived. How it got here so quickly, I'll never know. But it is here nonetheless and we shall embrace it. (Maybe "embrace" is too strong a word. How about we go with "learn to live with it." That suits our style a little better.)
Lots of interesting and exciting things are planned for That'll Do Farm this year. Perhaps the most exciting is the upcoming introduction of our fiber CSA and our produce CSA.
What, by gosh by golly, you ask is a fiber CSA or a produce CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it's a way of bringing non-farmers closer to their produce and fiber. You, the customer, will have the opportunity to buy weekly "shares" of our vegetables or yearly "shares" of our fiber. We will begin offering "shares" next week, once we get all the nitty-gritty pricing details finalized.
In addition to their share of the vegetable or fiber "crop," our CSA shareholders will receive an invitation to members only picnics, weekly e-mail updates, special discounts on classes and a whole host of other benefits.
Plus, shareholders get the experience of knowing where there produce or fiber came from and how it was grown. They will have a real life connection with the farmers responsible for growing their food and their fiber.
We hope you'll think about joining either or both of That'll Do Farm's CSAs.
And, if that's not enough to set your ears a-wigglin', we'd like to invite you to take a look at another project in which we are involved:
The Ohio Natural Fiber Network is a group of Ohio fiber producers working to bring you the best animals and highest quality natural, local fibers. We hope to make this site your go-to spot for fiber information and events throughout the state. Please bookmark it and check back often as the site grows.
So Welcome 2011. We're glad you're here and we are going to enjoy each and every one of your days. Although sub-zero days and stinkin' hot 90 degree plus days will be a challenge, we are going to learn to live with them!