"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Saturday Afternoon Field Trip

View out of my bathroom window
this morning.
This morning dawned clear and sunny, which was nice after 3 days of awesome rainy fall days. This last Saturday was a clear, cool, sunny autumn day, too, which made it a great day for a field trip. And that is exactly what the local knitting group did. We met at the local yarn shop, and carpooled to two yarn establishments and 1 fabulous restaurant.  Our destination: Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin and, oh, what a beautiful drive it was. And it was great to chat with fellow knitters (one being a fellow) and to knit, too.

Our first stop was out in the country near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin to Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill. This is a family run business and has equipment from huge commercial woolen mills of the past. Ann, one of the owners, began as a hand spinner and, starting back in the late 80's, turned her love of fiber into a means of livelihood. I'll share some pictures of their equipment, which they use primarily to fill orders from shops and vendors of yarns. They also have a small shop right there, where individuals can buy exquisite yarns and fibers, patterns, and other items of interest. And they have an internet order business, so be sure and visit their web page. If you purchase yarn from Blackberry Ridge, you will not be disappointed. Ann is quite selective about the wool producers from whom she buys and is careful not to "scour" or harm the fiber. Plus, she is very careful about the dyes they use and the color formulas for the purpose of replicating, all ensuring the finest of yarns and fibers. (I believe they also process wool into roving for hand spinners, with a minimum of 2 pounds.)

So here are some photos of the Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill. Somehow I neglected to get photos in their shop area so, again, be sure and visit their web page. The wool yarn I got there is soooo soft and in beautiful colors.
Ann, one of the owners of Blackberry Ridge,
is on the left, giving us a tour. It began in the end
room that houses washing machines for soaking
and spinning out wool, and a kitchen range for
setting the dyes of their paint yarns - in the oven.

Merino wool air drying after cleaning.

Here is a large hank of dyed wool
dripping over the dye bath.

And then drying, hung over PVC pipe.

Here are gears from some huge machine sticking
out of a hole cut in the wall to accommodate them. 

The fiber fuzz is cleaned every week from every
nook and cranny. 

One of the 2 carding machines. From this

.....it goes to this one. When it is done here, the wool
is in very fine, untwisted strands and put onto huge
"bobbins," that word being used loosely.

The "bobbins" or rolls are on top of this green machine.
Here the strands are twisted into single ply yarn.

From the rolls, to twisted and then wound automatically
onto the wooden bobbins.

And this last machine,though not a good picture, is where
the single ply yarns are plied.

And here the camera is getting a stare-down.

Our next stop was in downtown Mt. Horeb to The Cat and the Crow. Now, how's that for an awesome shop name? This shop was new (to me) and it is de-light-ful! When you first walk in the door, there is a sittin' & knittin' area and beyond that, rows and racks and walls of yarn, fiber, knitting gadgets, felted bowls (felted on balloons), and Oh My! on and on. And in the back is another sitting area with a table, likely for classes. I will include some pictures from there but be sure and visit their web page, too. (They also have a great Facebook page here and they have wonderful pictures on their page.)
This sitting area is what greets you right
inside the door.
The woman on the left is one of the co-owners,
showing something on her needles.

And here is the other co-owner. Just look at that great
"pig-tail hat" someone knitted for her.

The centerpiece of the class area.

Felted bowl - using a balloon.

Our last stop, well besides stopping for gas on the way home, was to The Grumpy Troll, also in downtown Mt. Horeb - just around the corner from The Cat and the Crow. There we had a very nice selection of menu items and, even though the place is extremely popular and a bit loud, we had a great time talking and laughing. And I heard no complaints about the food, only raving. YUM!

And here is our group, courtesy of a busy, friendly

Here is a re-cap of my day: I finished a fair isle hat
on the ride over, bought several patterns, and
bought some yarn. The large,
colorful skein is what I got at Blackberry Ridge.

It was a fabulous day for a field trip with friends.


  1. Sounds like a great day out and very interesting. How did you decide who would drive and therefore NOT knit on the journey???

    1. Haha, Gillian. The organizer of the trip automatically drove. The other driver volunteered and was happy to drive until all her passengers pulled out
      their knitting. Then she rethought her generous offer. But it was toooo late. :)


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