The thing that makes yarn shows magical for me is, of course, meeting our customers in person. So many times, I’ve known someone by only name or Ravatar, and getting the chance to see them face to face at last is always such a delight! But there’s another aspect of shows that I really love, and that’s getting to meet and hang out with other vendors. They are some seriously cool people — makers and craftspeople I really admire — and, even though shows are hard hard work, there is a sense of camaraderie and sharing amongst the vendors that is really wonderful to experience.
And I want to introduce you to two I’ve really enjoyed getting to know. I think most of us who’ve caught the knitting or crochet bug have also developed a fondness for sheep and the farms and farmers who bring us their wool. So when I first spotted Ross Farm Fiber‘s booth at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival a few years ago, I made a beeline, and immediately introduced myself.
I’m so glad I did! Amy and Scott (whose nametag sometimes reads, “Scooterpie the Shepherd Guy”) are just lovely — really warm and open, the kind of people who make you want to sit down with a cup of tea and your knitting and just natter the rest of the day away. Except you can’t, because you’re right in the middle of crazy-busy show, and there are customers everywhere and… yep, back to work!
But Amy invited me down to their farm, and last week I took her up on it. And do you know, it’s everything you’d want a small family farm to be! She and Scott took me on a tour of barns that had been in her family for generations, introduced me to their donkeys and Halflingers, small horses that followed us round, nuzzling my pockets for treats. And when they called the sheep down from the fields (and they come flying too!), Amy and Scott knew each ewe by name as they came pouring through the barn doors.
At Ross Farm, Amy and Scott raise rare and heritage breeds: mostly Leicester Longwools and Romneys, a small flock of Jacobs (I love Jacobs!) and another of Corriedales, and a handful of Cheviots, Shetlands, Tunis, and Lincolns. And the thing that really surprised me? They’re all watched over by their donkeys, who work in pairs to keep the coyotes at bay!
Oh, and then there’s Lilah Grace. But I’m guessing she’s not much of a deterrent to coyotes — she spent most of her time trotting out in front of me and the flopping down right in my path and begging to have her belly rubbed.
And thing thing I love most is their focus on giving their animals a genuinely happy existence. That have large fields with plenty of space to roam in the day, and comfortable barns to bed down in at night. Happy sheep indeed.
Ross Farm Fibers sells fleece and yarn — rustic and farmy and beautiful. It’s so different from the yarn I usually dye and sell at SpaceCadet — commercially spun yarn can never acheive the rustic-ness of farm yarn — but could I resist bringing some home to play with? Not a chance! And I knew I wanted to share a little of Ross Farm’s magic with my customers too so, SpaceMonsters, keep your eyes on your postboxes in February — you are in for a treat!
I know why you knit or crochet. It’s for the same reason I do — to slow the world down for a little while and ground yourself in the rhythmic click of the needles. And that grounding has to start with beautiful wool — a fiber unequaled by anything man can manufacture. When you visit a place like Ross Farm, you can see why.