Thursday, April 02, 2009

Road Trip!

Texel Wool from Border Springs Farm
Texel Wool from Border Springs Farm in Patrick County

After many days of being sick with miserable cold and flu-type stuff, and then more days of frantically trying to catch up on all the things I needed to get done, it was a pleasure to put everything aside for a (ta-dah) ROAD TRIP!

Friend Linda of just-up-the-road-and-under-the-hill-near-Buffalo-Mountain was able to get away, too, and we set out on a long-anticipated trip to the Central Virginia Fiber Mill, near Ruckersville.  Linda drove and we piled five bags of wool into the back seat of her truck to make the three hour trip.  For once we didn't get lost!  It rained most of the way, though, so I didn't get any pictures of the drive through the lovely valleys of Virginia.

Julep, "Mill Dog"
Julep, Mill Dog

Julep met us when we drove up.  She's a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a breed I'd never met in person.   Farm life with the alpacas and at the mill seemed to really agree with her.  Julep greeted us graciously after a proper introduction!

Linda learning how it all works
Processing fiber into roving

I heard about the mill on Ravelry, in reply to a post I put up asking about possible Virginia fiber processors.  Since my shop mostly attracts tourists that are interested in Virginia and Virginia products, I thought I'd like to have a Virginia processor handle the Texel Fleeces I bought down in Patrick Springs a few weeks ago.  I was thrilled when someone replied with the information about the Central Virginia Fiber Mill, and Mary graciously agreed to allow us to bring our fleeces up and see the mill for ourselves.  Note: the lovely roving in the following pictures is NOT from our fleeces!

Mary busy at the roving machine
Mary watching the new roving carefully

It was wonderful to finally see how a wool processing mill works at last, after sending wool out to be processed for years to distant mills I've had no chance of visiting.  Everywhere in the spacious building something was going on.  Wool and other fibers were drying on racks; there was a picker back in a corner ready to go to work and the machine that makes roving was working hard.  The next step, Mary explained, was putting the fiber through a pin drafter and then finally on the big spinning machine to create a beautiful yarn.  The machine I envied her most for was the skein winder, which could wind six skeins at once of carefully measured yarn.  Automatically!

I'm excited about working with Mary, who was a delightful hostess and taught us a lot about how she processes the wool.  The Texel we left is going to be made into roving.  I want to spin it myself at first and see what kind of yarn it makes.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished product!

Roving as it comes out of the machine
Roving as it comes out of the machine

Linda and I had a wonderful time together, as usual.  And as usual we talked ourselves hoarse about everything under the sun.  On Mark's recommendation we headed back toward Harrisonburg to stop at Hank's Smokehouse for a late lunch, and had a wonderful meal.  As both Linda and I would say "Goood.....I reckon!"  We shared a Bourbon Chocolate Chip Pecan pie with ice cream for dessert that could ruin you for any other pecan pie ever (except for maybe your mama's).  Then we headed back down the Interstate toward good old Meadows of Dan, glad to have had the chance for a fun trip to meet fantastic people.  Nice to be home, though!

April 009
Fresh from the Farm at Greenberry House!

This morning I dutifully trotted up to the shop through the rain for my first day back with spring hours.   Doesn't really feel like spring yet, watching the rain fall down and the fog crowd in over the bare trees.  But it won't be long until folks are heading for the Blue Ridge Parkway to admire the beautiful bloom of rhododendron and flame azalea, so I'd better be ready.  Greenberry House is now open from 10 AM to 6 PM, Thursday to Monday, until December!

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