Why bother

Liesl was bred to Chester in the fall of 2008 and her ewe lamb, Zoe, was born in March of 2009. Although we usually keep yearlings back from breeding Zoe had other ideas and was bred by Reuben in October of 2009 and lambed twins in April of 2010. Her lamb fleece was harvested and she was culled from the flock in July of 2010. The farm kept us busy during the summer of 2010 so Zoe’s fleece was sent to the Gurdy Run Woolen Mill to be washed and prepared for spinning. The processed fleece was returned in early 2011 and sat in Joanna’s studio until April of 2012 when she began spinning it to produce yarn for a sweater. She spun, off-and-on, until just this past weekend when she announced that sixteen skeins of three-ply, worsted weight, yarn were about to be washed. These skeins were hung to dry on Sunday morning and Joanna has been working on the sweater since the evening which followed. Four years passed between breeding dam and sire and the start of the knitting project which would result in a wearable garment. Why does Joanna do this? Certainly it would be easier to drive to the local purveyor of fine yarns and purchase some. It would be even easier to order yarn online. Although I have told the following story before I think it appropriate to retell it here. Once, when visiting friends, Joanna happened to be working on a knitting project that she had brought along. When the visit was nearly complete one of our hosts asked, “Joanna, what have you been doing all this time?” “I’m knitting a sweater,” she replied. Our host took out his wallet, handed Joanna a twenty-dollar bill, and said “Here …  go and buy yourself a sweater.” To this day, she has neither forgotten the event nor forgiven the comment. Joanna has been knitting for more than 30 years, she has been a spinner for most of that time, and she raises wool in support of her art … yes, art. There is great satisfaction in crafting your own clothes from materials that you have raised and processed. Wearing a sweater, hat, or perhaps a pair of socks that once grazed your back pasture is quite something. Doing this has been Joanna’s passion, it has been our shared passion, for nearly a quarter century. It’s what we do.

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