Friday, September 17, 2010
Stonehedge Fiber Mill
As summer slides into fall, I find my thoughts drifting back to those lovely July days. One day, while visiting Abby at Interlochen, I had an unexpected few hours of free time that turned into a wonderful, woolly adventure.
After savoring Abby's morning choir rehearsal, I hopped into my rented roadster and headed towards town -- don't blink or you'll miss it. My first stop was InterQuilten where I was pleasantly surprised to find not just garden variety fabrics but a few skeins of local yarn. My favorite was the hand spun, 100% Coopworth wool in Pink Lemonade, a loose twist of light green and pink plies. Unfortunately there was not enough quantity for even a short scarf. I bought it anyway.
In the hope of finding more, the shop's jovial proprietress got on the horn with Amy, the author of said yarn. Her own stash depleted, Amy kindly steered me towards the Stonehedge Fiber Mill, the best local yarn producer in northern Michigan. I momentarily debated whether to make the pilgrimage to East Jordan 65 miles away. But that hesitation did not last long. Equipped with wanderlust, a full tank of gas and a car-navi, I hit the road.
The drive was lovely. A real slice of Americana. As I got further from Traverse City, fast food joints gave way to farm stands. And the two-lane highway I took north was lined with cherry orchards (about 6 weeks too late), vast fields of sunflowers all gloriously in bloom, and endless rows of corn ready for the picking. Reader, this abundance was a heavenly sight. Eventually I headed eastward, via increasingly smaller roads, until I reached East Jordan, a charming little town with a main street defined by 19th and early 20th century buildings. After a brief pit stop, I headed off to find Stonehedge.
Even the dogs in East Jordan are happy!
This is the wool shop. What an enchanting place! Mostly Stonehedge is a spinnery that turns the boxes and boxes of raw wool that arrive daily from all over the country into yarn of every ply and color imaginable.
But the purpose of my trek was the yarn spun and dyed by the mill owner, Deb. Entering her shop, I felt like a kid in a candy store. While one wall was lined with a rainbow of Deb's worsted weights, the floor was laden with baskets brimming with artisan blends. It was very hard to decide which ones to buy. So I put off the decision and toured the mill first.
Located in an adjacent building, the mill (entrance pictured above) consists of a couple of rooms with various machines that transform the airy fibers into everything from bulky arans to delicate sock yarns. Deb gave me a quick tour and then we went outside where I met some of her animals -- goats, guinea hens, sheep, dogs etc.
Evidently, Deb does not spin her own sheep wool but does harvest and sell yarn from her alpacas. I took a pass on the alpaca but left with plenty of wool to keep me knitting all fall.
Our heroine, Deb, plying her trade.