My best friend from high school moved to British Columbia to marry a sheep farmer in the wilds of the mountains. Over the past couple of years, I have spent long periods of time at the farm (where they raise sheep for meat): Knitting, eating from the earth, and communing with nature. Pretty romantic stuff, eh?
Of course, in real life, farming is a tough business. Living on a farm means that work is constantly an integral part of your home life and there is always work to be done. And yet small farms rarely subsist without an outside income, creating balancing acts of time, energy and money.
While there are certainly many hardships, I have secretly truly wanted to be a farmer. There is an amazing feeling that comes to me, and I think to others in farming communities, when we sit down together to consume a meal from the earth we have tilled, or sown or picked or even witnessed. I call it my “full circle” feeling.
My adventure in knitting local actually officially began when I met Linda of Rancho Tranquilo Alpacas. I got to chatting with her at her booth at last year’s Knitter’s Frolic. I was telling her how I wanted to design knitwear, and she was telling me she needed some fresh ideas for yarn kits to sell her beautiful pure Alpaca yarns, raised, shorn and processed in Ontario! I put her card in my wallet and forgot about it.
Months later in September, I found her card and decided to email her about working together. Not only did she remember me, she was still interested in new ideas. She invited me to Fibermania at Spinning Wheel Alpacas to see her….and some real live Alpacas!
At Spinning Wheel, I was introduced to a number of local fiber producers making yarns and raising animals that I had never really connected with my day-to-day knitting. Of course there were alpacas of all shapes and sizes, but also angora rabbits, a friendly camel named Rocky, and beautiful beaver and fox fur yarn (all ethically produced) from Paula Lishman. And some farmers created their own yarns by hand, spinning and dying a wide range of colours and weights which are themselves unique works of art even before they are knit up. It was exciting to broaden my outlook, meet people who are so dedicated and connect with the land and the animals that make my art possible. I decided that day that I wanted to know more about the possibilities of knitting local.