Fiber Farm Visits

We are the fortunate inhabitants of a Fibershed. And since we are all dedicated to needles and fiber, we are a natural constituent community within it!

If you have ever considered how agriculture affects our health and quality of life and by extension that of our farmers and soils; or have chosen to consume a wild caught fish from a local dock, appreciated local organic greens or a wine from a vintner who sources the grapes from a local grower, then it would be natural to extend those considerations into the yarn you love.

It’s daring to consider that fiber grown locally can clothe our communities and be produced in ways that are both healthy and sustainable. As knitters can we form connections with our fiber producers in the same way that we do with our food and wine? Do we want to expand our yarn choices beyond mass production? It’s definitely an intriguing question for me! But as a knitter, it is also ultimately all about the pleasure and the product … and the wiles of color. Is it possible to have it all?

I am proud to be a member of our local Fibershed and truly impressed by this pioneering organization that is now represented and growing in dozens of local and international communities. “Fibershed develops regional and regenerative fiber systems on behalf of independent working producers”. It’s a big mission - and complicated. Explore all that here if you like! Many of us knitters are becoming more aware of this approach and wonder about how to support it.

It turns out there is a dazzling array of fiber farming happening right now in our Fibershed. And happily, a healthy diversity to explore! So let’s get familiar with some our producers and their rare flocks! I hope you will join me on visits to these two farms to hear what’s happening in our neighborhood. See what’s included here.

First up on April 28th, is Meridian Jacobs ranch in Vacaville.

Robin Lynde is the shepherd, spinner and weaver behind the flock of Jacobs at Meridian Jacobs. These piebald sheep are an ancient breed and the yarn she is creating knits up beautifully. The yarns are a reflection of the fleece color of these sheep - and some of it represents a collaboration with some of her neighboring ranches. As always with a Pacific Knitting Retreat, there is a project and yarns included - this directly from the sheep you will see at the farm.

On May 19, we will head to Heartfelt Fiber Farm in Santa Rosa. Leslie Adkins shepherds on a micro farm and focusses specifically on a ‘spinning’ flock. She has a small (and related) mixed flock of fiber animals and in particular is one of the only US shepherds of the very rare Ouessant sheep. This breed evolved on a small island in Brittany and are characterized by their beautiful colored fleeces and charming temperaments. It makes sense that some of the other inhabitants at Heartfelt Farm are Shetlands … another island breed known for their colors! Leslie is a wealth of knowledge on these lovely sheep - and we will be able to see ewes, ram and lambs at Heartfelt Fiber Farm, which is an extraordinary treat. Leslie produces yarns that reflect all the colors in her flock. She is also a member of the Kinship Group and Tender Shepherd programs within Fibershed. These are producers who adhere to a specific set of principles in their animal husbandry alongside their Fibershed farming practices. Again, expect a signature project so you can create using Leslie’s Ouessant yarn. I hope you’ll join in on a visit to this special place!

Gayle RavenscroftComment