Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Hudson Valley: Crawling with Yarn

Notes From the Road

by Kathryn Hunter Luciana

Front window of The Perfect Blend Yarn & Tea Shop, Saugerties, N.Y.
  Though it was officially Spring, March was going out like a lion; cold, wet and bleak, but for the avid fiber fool and her intrepid companion that was no deterrent to the quest. The Spring Yarn Crawl was in full swing. For those unfamiliar with a Yarn Crawl, let me enlighten you. You've heard of Pub Crawls and Wine Trails, well yarn crawls are pretty much the same thing. You follow a map throughout the region leading to designated stops along the way where you can indulge in various "varietals" of fiber. Shops, mills and farms sign up to participate. They open their establishments to the public, sometimes offering special deals to the "crawlers:" goodies, samples, and a peek into how their products are made.
   The farms are of particular interest to me, because I love to learn about the animals from which the fibers originate. Many farms are not open to the public, so "crawling" offers a great opportunity to see them. This year I set out to visit two farms first, but unfortunately I read my map wrong and arrived at one farm too early, and the second on the list was not open. Dejected, I told my companion not to worry, that we would soon turn our luck around, and finally in Red Hook, we did.
   As the drizzle increased, we pulled into Hudson Valley Sheep and Wool Company and opened the door to a warm and friendly greeting. This shop is also on a farm. Mary, the owner, explained that she raises Icelandic sheep, most likely brought to that country by the Vikings, and Shetland Sheep from the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. They process the fiber into yarn right there. You can't get more local than that! I was given a short tour of the processing room by Mickey and was particularly keen on the large felting table.  After experiencing the process of wet felting by hand the previous weekend, renting this table for a project seemed particularly appealing to me. I purchased skeins of Shetland/Icelandic Lopi blend yarn for felting and some scrumptious merino/silk blend for a soft next-to-the-skin something.

Raw fiber drying on the screen
Felting table
The spinning machine drafts and twists the fiber roving to produce yarn
   Sunday dawned not much better weather-wise, and it was tempting to stay home, but the Call of the Crawl was strong, and we ventured out again. This time we had our sights set on an interesting sounding shop in Saugerties called The Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop. We found the shop easily in its location in the quaint little village of Saugerties, and the charming exterior and antique spinning wheel in the window looked inviting. The shop didn't disappoint. Mary Ebel, the shop keeper has perfectly blended her wonderful selection of locally sourced yarns and fine quality commercially produced yarns with an equally scrumptious  selection of teas.

Arturo Ceballos and his needle felted sculptures

   As I looked around I was drawn to the back of the shop where a gentleman, sitting at a small table, was working on the most beautiful menagerie of needle felted creatures: perfect portraits of little rabbits in various colors and aspects. His name is Arturo Ceballos.  He teaches needle felting at the shop and also also sells his wool sculptures at Cottage on the Hudson Fiberarts Studio. Many examples of his work adorn the shop. Still further, in a second room I found a diminutive lady, serenely sitting at her small spinning wheel spinning fiber into yarn. Not unusual for a yarn shop, but as I looked more closely, I realized that in her lap, under her arm was a large, very fluffy, very quiet rabbit, and she was spinning the yarn directly from her fur.
Mariepaule Rossier spinning fiber from her Angora rabbit

Beautiful Angora Rabbit taking a break
   Mariepaule Rossier explained that since the Angora Rabbit was shedding, she was able spin directly from her fur. Mariepaule showed me around and talked to me about her beautiful fibers. What a wealth of knowledge she is! I had a difficult time choosing, but I finally purchased some of her Cormo sheep/kid mohair blend yarn in teal. Mariepaule is also part of The Cottage on the Hudson Fiberarts Studio with Arturo, teaching classes, and selling her hand-spun yarn and garments. After chatting with shop owner Mary, sampling and purchasing some organic tea, and saying goodbye to Mariepaule and Arturo, my intrepid companion and I made our home with my treasures. The next "crawl" cannot come too soon for us.
Intrepid companion, April

 A visit to these local businesses supports our talented local artisans and is a wonderful way to discover the richness of the Hudson Valley.
Hudson Valley Sheep and Wool Company 190 Yantz Road, Red Hook, N.Y. 12751 845-758-3130
The Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop 50 Market Street Saugerties, N.Y. 12477
Cottage on the Hudson 951-642-8750

Kathryn - Huzzah! Handmade


  1. Great post Kathryn, thanks for the address for the one in Red Hook. I think I will take a ride up there looking for hair for my dolls.

  2. Great post. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Loved the tale of your travels. I especially like the rabbit serenely sitting while his fur is being 'spun'

  5. Loved the tale of your travels. I especially like the rabbit serenely sitting while his fur is being 'spun'