Sunday, August 23, 2009

Spinner in Fiberland

Fleece stacked to the ceiling, lambs resting on sweet straw, a skirting table covered with fresh fleece—what could be more idyllic? I was fortunate enough to visit Elihu Farm in Valley Falls, N.Y., this week to purchase some fleece for my latest rug project. I had very specific tones of naturally colored fleece in mind and I knew that Bob & Mary Pratt with their herd of nearly 200 ewes would have what I needed. The Pratt farm is in a picturesque setting nestled in the rolling foothills south of the Adirondacks and west of the Green Mountains. The farm gets its name from the original owner who settled the land nearly 200 years ago.

I’ve been visiting Elihu Farm for more than 15 years, every since my husband and I first came across it during one of the first Washington County Sheep Tours. We have family nearby, so the farm is in the neighborhood. I’ve purchased some of my best fleeces from Mary’s broad selection of fleece types and have not been disappointed. Mary can have anything from fine rambouillet (that’s my favorite fleece Champ) to lustrous Romneys and many kinds of fleeces in between that are exceptionally pleasant to process, spin and knit. I was after Romney today for the rug project—and we had to dig through the giant stack (shown above) to find some of the coarser fleeces more suitable for rugs. I couldn’t pass by one fine one though, a lovely creamy moorit which will make a wonderful next-to-the-skin soft sweater someday soon.

Visiting the farm is something I really look forward to. It’s like going to a fleece fair but without the crowds—and the Elihu Barn is better than the Rhinebeck fleece barn. Above, you can see a picture of just one small section of the fleece area—she has them stacked up to the ceiling. She’s already sold quite a few from this year’s clip but remember, she has a LOT of sheep. If you are lucky enough to live in the Northeast, you’ll be able to find Elihu Farm fleece for sale at one of the many fiber festivals. In the next picture are some of her ewes. The one mugging for the camera produced the gorgeous fine fleece which I already purchased for a future knitting project. The little lamb shown was adorable and liked being scratched behind the ears.

Now that I’m weaving, I go through fleeces a lot faster, so I bought quite a few for that purpose--the two rugs I just finished represent six fleeces. As it turns out, I ended out walking out with six more (five for the upcoming rug weaving project). Yep, I will be busy. Next week, I hope to show you my new loom being warped with the 8/4 linen warp that will form the basis of all these rugs. So visit my blog again!


  1. You're giving me fleece envy! That moorit one sounds gorgeous.

    Of course, I have several fleeces waiting patiently for me to wash them...

  2. Wow - I'm stunned! I've never seen so many fleeces in the same place - I would have been completely overwhelmed by so many choices. I can't imagine where I'd keep a half dozen fleece out of harms way (i.e. - my dogs!).