Sunday, October 19, 2008

Green Mountain Spinnery

It's a little hard to believe that just two weeks ago today, the professor and I were zipping across Eastern New York towards Putney, Vermont, to visit my best friend, (also known as Dr. Anne) with a destination of Green Mountain Spinnery. For me, it was a bit of a pilgrimage. For years now, I've admired the eco-friendly methods and beautiful yarns of this yarn company. They were even so kind as to donate yarn for Fiber Gathering...and they'd never seen the project that has been produced out of their yarns. I was lucky enough to whip out my laptop and share the photos with two of the owners!

Well, the trip was well worth it for all sorts of reasons. First, the Vermont fall colors were stunning and the 2 hour drive was beautiful. Lots of country roads, turns, twists, and good views kept us busy. The professor navigated while I took the turns. Then, when we arrived, I had a treat. It was a Sunday, and I hadn't announced to anyone that I would be coming. No matter.

It turns out that one of the owner-employees recognized who I was, the name of my book...and we had a ball (haha!) I took a lot of photos, and hopefully one day I'll get to use those in an article. Meanwhile, I got a fabulous tour of the mill.

When folks complain about the high prices of this yarn, they don't realize what a labor of love it is. The mill processes mainly local fibers (wool, mohair and cotton, in the main) and does it from start to finish, aside from some of the dyeing. There are 12 employees, 7 of which are part of the owner-cooperative plan. The machines are either very old, or hand tailored to fit the Spinnery's needs and space.

I got to touch their enormous bale of organic cotton. We (The professor, Dr. Anne and I) saw the washing facilities (fascinating) and the carding machines. We admired the sleek long lines of their spinning equipment. Finally, at the end of the "tour", we saw these elevated drying racks, full of yarn that they took an extra step with, washing and plumping it after processing.

The shop itself is absolutely petite. Here's a shot of my husband, the professor, taking up literally half the store! I was amazed at how much lovely yarn, samples, and other delights they managed to fit in. Whenever I'm at a festival that Green Mountain Spinnery is at, I want to touch and examine everything....but so does everyone else. This was a chance to think about my purchases without the crush of the crowds. I appreciated the lack of pressure...and really enjoyed making my purchases.
I've long admired the heathered and jewel tone yarns that this woolen mill produces. They are exactly my taste when it comes to color knitting! I bought their book just so I could think over those yarn colors years ago. That said, it was sort of surprising what I ended up coming home with. I chose a lot of natural colored yarns...some of which were kindly donated to me for designs for my next book. From top to bottom, the skeins are:
Maine Organic Wools (three natural shades), New Mexico Organic Wools (two natural shades) and 3 different shades of Green Mountain Granite (wool and kid mohair blend--a truly luxurious yarn!) The outliers? That big cone is 2lbs of the DK weight Cotton Comfort yarn. This is 80% wool, 20% Organic Cotton...and enough there for a sweater plus something else for only $40. (it was on special, and I know how to dye it at home.) The green and charcoal skein is some handdyed sock yarn....I couldn't resist just a bit of color!

We then drove to nearby Brattleboro for a late afternoon meal of locally grown foods and then...the long drive west across the mountains as the sun set. It was a practically perfect day of vacation with my professor and my best friend. (She lives in Vermont, so she just drove back home.)
On the new baby nephew front, things are progressing very slowly. He is still in intensive care and likely will be for a week or so more. I am now planning a journey to Virginia right after SAFF next weekend--I'm going with the professor and some friends. Then I'll drive northeast from Asheville on my own...the festival will break up the long drive. My family is known for its planning...and this timing has been carefully thought out. I hope to be there to help as the baby comes home from the hospital, but when that will be? We're not sure yet.
Thanks again for all your kind comments and prayers. It's been a rough week and I'm doing my best to keep up a "normal" patter of small talk here on the blog in the meanwhile!


Anonymous AlisonH said...

My best to the little one.

That drying rack--wow. All the possibilities, all the future colors. That's enough to really have fun playing with!

October 19, 2008 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

What a superb visit to Vermont! It's a beautiful state I've been lucky enough to spend some summer time in several years. Maybe the next time up there I'll be able to visit the Spinnery.

October 19, 2008 at 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Janet said...

Even though I'm not a knitter, I do love fabric, and I would have loved your mill tour, I have no doubt. What a treat! Nice that you were recognized, too. Warm thoughts for your nephew. I'm sure your brother and sister-in-law will need you more when he comes home than they do now. they're lucky you're so patient!

October 19, 2008 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Wow, you certainly have been busy, sending good thoughts your way for the little one, sil and family.

Hope you're being a good girl and taking care of yourself too!

B :)

October 19, 2008 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

What a wonderful trip!! I lived in VT for a long time and you just can't replace those winding roads and country views :) Never had the pleasure of visiting the Spinnery. What a treat that must have been.
Your purchases are beautiful. Will be anxious to see what you "create" with those :)

Great news that your nephew is making progress and will be going home. Will continue the good thoughts and prayers for you all.

October 20, 2008 at 6:03 AM  

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