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Meet the Shepherd

Now that the inventory is well in hand, shopping for new fleeces is underway, and some much needed scour, combs and cards are in stock, it’s time to meet The Spinning Loft’s new shepherd, her faithful companion and the supervisory “sheepdog”.

Alison spinning Victorian fashionI am Alison, your new shepherd. While I introduced myself briefly when Beth announced the shop transfer, I thought it was important that you get to know me a little better.

As you can tell, I have some rather historical interests. I work at the Maryland Renaissance Faire for a fantastic seamstress and I have a love of history, which is shared by my partner in crime. It is not, however shared by the ‘sheepdog’ who views the garb merely as a hint that he won’t be seeing us for several hours, again. I also like wine and pairing it with the dishes I enjoy cooking for my friends and family (often with a historical theme). When I get to combine these passions it’s even better.

I love all the wools. All of them. My favorite is whatever I happen to be working with at the present moment – and given what some might call a rather disturbing habit of acquiring wheels and spindles, that can encompass rather a lot of options. But it’s wool and the sheep grow more, and it’s soft and floofy – or long and wirey, or curly , or straight, or… .

I confess that I came to this love via the aforementioned Beth Smith who conveniently offered a breed study class not far from me at a rather ‘coincidental’ time. I am still not convinced that it was coincidental, but that’s a conspiracy for another day. Anyone who has met Beth knows that her love of wool is infectious. Over that weekend I learned that all the wools are the best wools and that I simply must spin all of them, even if it would take a while to get all of them. Coarse wools, soft wools, long wools, down wools, primitive wools, new fangled cross bred wools, crimpy wools and smooth wools – they are all wonderful and they all have something to offer. She also told me about Deb Robson’s book that was coming out, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.

A wall of fleece!That weekend began my slippery slope down the mountain of breed study. Then a couple years later Deb met me as the crazy fan girl (can you be a wool fan girl?) at Maryland Sheep and Wool, bouncing up and down and squeaking with excitement when I got the Sourcebook signed . I’m pretty sure that’s how she’ll always remember meeting me. I can assure you that Deb did not help with my obsession – unless by help she meant “oh look at this one! I wonder how this spins?!!!” as she greased that slippery slope some more. Deb’s rare breeds classes and video are the best (and yes, I always cry at that part…).

Since that weekend I have sampled 96 different breeds (with a few new ones from Norway waiting by the wheel as I write this) and each and every time I sample a breed I am reminded how rewarding wool is. Its variables, its textures, its wealth of natural colors, its ability to be dyed and transformed into so many different things and it’s profound sustainability should we as shepherds take care of the sheep. I have so many more to go!

He's a history guy

I am joined in this project by my faithful companion: my husband, and internet and social media guy, James. He has generously leaped down the slope after me, spinning and weaving his way through Merino and Tunis (unlike me, James does have some distinct favorite fibers). He is also usually one of the more guilty parties when it comes to fleece acquisition, so if there’s something you are craving, you should not hesitate to Tweet or post a note to James on the website or our email asking him to slide that item in my shopping list.

There is one other in our menagerie: Our supervisor – who admittedly supervises far far away from the store, from the comfort of his bed upstairs. Our fearless “sheepdog” Maximus makes sure we stick to the straight and narrow. He has been known to choose a little something from our personal stashes, but otherwise he finds our obsession rather smelly (“How can you stand that?”) and avoids it entirely by standing at the top of the stairs, snorting in derision and turning his butt at us as he trots back to his puppy bed and a stuffed crab toy.

Max & the Gotland.

We are your shepherds. In our natural environment we shall continue to source magnificent fleeces in as large an array of breeds as we can source. It is our mission to help the shepherds who raise the sheep treat and view their wool, not as an unnecessary byproduct, but as a welcome additional source of joy and income.

We look forward to your participation in this journey!

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All the fleeces!

Friends and fans of the Spinning Loft!

With some minor exceptions (Mohair, our recent Suri acquisitions, and some mystery fleeces we are tracking down) ALL THE FLEECES ARE ONLINE!  We also now have Unicorn and Kookaburra fiber washes and scours in stock – and our fleece washing service has made a triumphant return.  The combs and cards currently in stock are also up.

We continue to work feverishly to be ready for Small Business Saturday.  Books, DVD’s, a few knitting kits and the fabulous textiles from the Centro de Textiles in Cuzco are coming.

New orders to replace stock are in process.  Thank you all for your patience and patronage!

Alison Pacuska
Your Shepherd

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Shipping Update

Good evening Fiberistas and Friends of the Fleece!

Things are finally calming down some here in the Loft. We’ve spent the last week moving, sorting, photographing, stowing and otherwise stashing the inventory, and we’ve been working on getting it all online. We’ve made a lot of progress and there’s more to come, which we’ll be updating over the next week. Look for more fleece, books, tools, and some great Peruvian textiles.

We’ve also set our shipping times. We’ll be processing and shipping on Wednesday evening and Saturday each week. Please let us know if you need your items sooner than our regular shipping schedule.

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We’re open!

The new Spinning Loft store is now open! Browse the fleece, or search for a specific breed you’re looking for. We have over a hundred fleeces available in the store, with many more to come.

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New Shepherds, Same Great Sheep

Sorting bags of fleece

Welcome to the new Spinning Loft website. We are currently undergoing a major renovation, but will soon be live with a full product listing of fleeces, fiber prep equipment, books, and textiles. We promise this will be worth the wait!

In the meantime, here’s a small teaser of what’s to come…

Sorting bags of fleece
Setting up shop, with many piles of fleeces to sort…