I am one blessed chick! We have a great Knitterly family. I have been fortunate enough to meet some creative and inspiring people. And I have had the pleasure of befriending Mary, her Hubby Chris, and their lovely family at Twirl, in Napa.
Mary excitedly agreed to do an interview with me… Enjoy it and check out, knit, touch, and smell TWIRL. They are local, leave a smallish foot print and love what they do!
Ash: You live on a 2,000 acre ranch surrounded by beauty. Is this where you always saw yourself? On a ranch with hundreds of animals by your side?
Mary: No, I would have never dreamed this in a million years. It is so much better than I could have ever imagined.
A: You attended college before becoming a ranch woman what was your major and where did you go?
M: UC Davis, with a degree in Design (emphasis in textile design) and minor in art.
UC Berkeley for Masters degree in Visual Design. The time I was there Berkeley was the center of the universe for fiber. It was wonderful to be there.
A: Twirl is such an amazing place to visit and you live there… What’s the best part about your day?
M: Each day is different. No two are ever the same, so it has never gotten boring for me to be here for 34 years.
I love surprises, and every day is one – the animals make sure of it.
A: Favorite fiber to dye?
I know it is hard to imagine, but I love dyeing my yarn. I guess I made it so.
M: Favorite fiber to knit?
A: Tell me a little about your dye?
M: I love most natural dyeing, because it is always a little bit of surprise. Each time of year, each plant, the soil, the weather, the fiber blend, the mordant all decide the color. It usually is a more subtle color, and I really like the quiet energy of those colors. They are deep, and rich. They are truly an exercise for keeping an open mind, because if I really have an intent on a particular shade and color, it is JUST right next to it, but never exactly the same.
That being said, I do love color – bright ,vibrant, saturated color that the acid dyes offer. I dye that way with an intent.
A: People love local and knowing what they spend their money stays in the good ole USA, how do you stay local and keep such fabulous price points? And where is your mill?
M: I do it for love, not money. I want my yarn to be used and enjoyed by everyone.
I do a lot of the labor myself, so it keeps the cost down.
The wool mill I use, and love is Yolo Wool Mill, run by Jane Deamer. I love the people who work there – they are brilliant.
A: One word to describe you?
M: I hope *quirky*
A: Who are the guardians and what do they do?
M: I could not live without my guardians….
First, the dogs….. some stay with the sheep and goats, others patrol the boundary. It is the chorus…. 12 in all.
Then, the llamas (Masami, Dolly, Wally, Grommit, and Toni) guard one group, on the terraces.
And, the Alpacas – some stay with the sheep day and night, and others are out, 46 in all. Their shear mass approaching a strange visitor usually makes it leave.
And finally, my two donkey girls, Rose and Estelle (Pistelle). They came to me already trained as sheep guardians.
A: What is your biggest threat on your ranch?
M: the Coyotes, and the Mountain Lions. Coyotes are out of balance right now and causing me grief.
A: How self sustainable are you up on the hill? You are a ways out… How much do you rely on your home for food?
M: I have milking goats, and a few dairy cows. When I am milking, we get fresh raw milk, yogurt and sometimes, but not so much now, I make cheese.
Then we eat our own meat, because I know exactly where it has been, what it has eaten, and know it has had a good life here.
And, we have a big garden, with zucchinis right now we have to really keep track of!
When the kale gets too big, I use it for dye!
A: One word you strive for?
A: Advice to a person who dreams to love animals and make beautiful fiber out of their fluff?
M: Do it now, don’t wait.
A: If you had one super power what would it be?
M: Make time stand still, so I could get caught up on things
A: What’s in your record player/ I pod/ CD player right now?
M: A tie between M. Ward, Josh Ritter and Xavier Rudd.
A: The seasons must affect your dye process, what is your favorite season to dye?
M: Spring and Summer are the best for me
A: Do you have anything exciting coning soon we should look for?
M: Bunny and Muffy!
A: What part do you play in the local Fiber shed?
M: Mostly as a producer. But, I am also on the board. Also I like to support and participate in the sheep in schools program.
It is important for kids to know where meat and fiber really come from.
A: Why Twirl? How did you come up with that?
M: When you spin fiber into yarn – Twirl
It is the spinning wheel.
But, also, I imagine the sheep out in the pasture at night twirling under the stars.
One of them, for sure has the music, and another a tutu.
A: What’s your Moto?
M: Invite in magic.
I love this! Hope you do too!