"Working with wool at home is a long standing tradition in Norway, one that my mother brought with her when she moved across the world to the US, and that her mother, and in turn, she, passed on to me.
While I, myself, may have grown up in the suburbs, I was raised on my mom's stories of her childhood on a farm in Norway. Those stories must have really stuck with me, as we now live more similarly to her youth than to my own.
My mom was always working with yarn, from time to time showing me the basics of knitting and crochet.
An old spinning wheel that had belonged to my great grandmother stood in the entryway to our home.
Once, when my Bestemor (grandmother in Norwegian) came to visit us from Norway in Seattle in the mid 1970s, she showed us how it worked.
Looking back, I can see that as a pivotal moment. Had I never seen her spinning and working with raw wool, I may never have known it was possible, that it was even something one could do.
During my college years, I asked my mom, "Show me how to knit again. Just one more time." And that was that. I haven't stopped since.
Around that same time, while in an art class on batik dyeing, I came across a book in the university library on natural dyeing. Another pivotal moment! The idea of it struck a chord instantly with me and soon I'd gathered pots and sourced mordants and undyed yarns and began teaching myself to identify plants and roadside weeds from any books I could find on the subject. The magic of pulling that first batch of bright yellow wool from the dyepot captivated me from the very start, and continues to ever since.
Several years later, when I'd met my now husband, and we chose to settle in together, we knew we wanted to live rurally, and our searching soon led us to the northwest corner of Montana, partly because it was a place we could afford to buy land, partly for its beauty, and partly because of the welcoming that community we found.
After building our home from scratch, starting a small business, and beginning our family, we saw the opportunity to use the acreage we had to grow our own food as well. With my knitting and dyeing, and my hope to become a spinner, raising sheep seemed like a natural choice. Attending a local shearing, we came home with our first few sheep, a spinner's flock that we could breed for lambs for the table, as well as for their fiber. Soon I had my own spinning wheel, and then another and another, and eventually, that old family wheel came my way, too.
Wool work has held my interest for decades already and I see it as something that will hold a lifetime of learning, great personal satisfaction, and joy ahead. Sharing what I make with others is the newest part of my fiber journey. Spinning in public, especially where children are present, is part of my intention as a fiber artist, passing this legacy forward to another generation. Kids are typically fascinated by watching the wheel work, feeling the fibers, and pedaling the wheel while I draft the fibers into yarn. My wish is that someday, even if not until years down the road, some of these children will remember the possibility, it will spark their own interest, and another spinner will be born. I hope that you find as much inspiration from what I make as I am influenced by the work of other artists.