My driver said: "Take your time. I'll be waiting out here." (Those words translated mean: "You don't have much time. Make it quick!" ) However, when under pressure, I can do some quick shopping!
I explained to the owner my husband was waiting outside and I didn't have much time. I asked permission to post her shop on my blog along with her picture. She gave me her business card and I took her photo.
I said: "I was surprised to see a shop..." and Teresa finished my sentence: "...way out in the middle of nowhere!" My thoughts exactly. And what a delightful surprise!
We chatted for a bit. I said my husband would be getting eager to leave. Right then the door opened and in walked The Man. He told me to have fun looking around the shop; he'd found an airport he wanted to check out. And he'd be back in 15 minutes. I ran around the shop, found a felted bag pattern by Two Old Bags to use with my bale wool and I couldn't resist a book with sheep on the cover.
My driver arrived; time to leave. I emailed Teresa when I returned home and she took the time to answer my questions. The interview with Teresa Southworth, owner of Skeins, in John Day, OR:
1. How long have you been spinning, weaving, knitting? Did you learn by taking classes or from a mother/grandmother? I didn't start my fiber phase until the early 1980's, after I'd married and moved to a ranch in the middle of eastern Oregon. I have a degree in zoology from OSU and did a lot of graphics in college, mostly screen printing, but I guess I needed a more practical creative outlet once I ended up here. I'm mostly self-taught. We have REALLY long, cold winters - Seneca is famous for being the coldest spot in the state, holding the historic record of -54 degrees in 1933 - so a warm, woolly hobby makes good sense!
2. How long have you had your shop? I first opened SKEINS in September of 1989 in a one-room bunkhouse at our ranch headquarters near the little town of Seneca, located 25 miles south of John Day. When we built a new house, the shop moved, too. Then in late fall of 2006 I made the big move to town!
3. What type of drop spindles do you carry? I saw Ashford and Cascade. Any others? A few from Tom Diak (Dyakcraft, a.k.a. Grafton Fibers)
4. What types of spinning wheels do you carry? Kromski is my main supplier.
5. Are there many spinners in your area? Not as many as I'd like! Knitters are my mainstay, but I try to keep supplies at hand for crocheters, spinners, felters and weavers, even though my shop is small.
6. Brands of yarns? I have the Jamieson's Spindrift line and a bit of Jamieson's Shetland Heather Aran. And tell me again what spinning fibers you carry. I keep 20+ colors of Corriedale-type carded rovings in stock, the Ashford merino/tussah color blends, and usually some undyed rovings (like superwash BlueFace Leicester). And there's usually a few examples of my own dyepot adventures - I like to handpaint rovings on occasion!
7. What are your most popular yarns? This is a very practical area, so Lamb's Pride worsted, Cascade 220 and Plymouth Encore are always at the top of the list, along with several sock yarns. And, of course, whatever new yarn that's just come in!
8. Tell me about the sheep you raise. What do you do with their wool? I have a small flock of mostly Border Leicester/Coopworth crosses, currently 27 ewes, a couple of rams and 2 very entertaining Maremma guard dogs. There are also 14 llamas wandering around on "my" fuzzy little corner of our commercial cattle ranch. There aren't very many sheep in this area any more, and even fewer shearers, so I do my own shearing. Before moving the shop to town, I was able to spend more time working with my wool. I do have a felting mill set up at the ranch and over the past several years have produced something like 200 saddle pads. They are a "working man's" pad - nothing fancy but really good on a horse! Since I live on a cattle ranch and belong to a beef marketing co-op of 75-100 ranches, I never lacked for customers. I'm no longer taking orders - I just don't have enough time.
9. Tell me about the Fiber Queens. The Fiber Queens - one of our local social fiber-oriented groups - meets the last Tuesday evening of the month. We've been meeting for years, first at different members' homes, then at the local Dairy Queen (thus the name) and now upstairs at SKEINS. It's usually just a casual gathering for working on projects and visiting, but sometimes we have a potluck or special activity.
10. Have you ever been to Fall Mountain Lookout? No - but we can almost see it from our house!
11. Anything else you would like to mention? Any advice for spinners/sheep-raisers/knitters? I'd just like to say, "THANKS for keeping these wonderful handcrafts alive and well!!!"
If you are in the Middle of Nowhere or in John Day, Oregon, look for Teresa's beautiful shop:
SKEINS 516 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, OR 97845, phone: 541/575-KNIT
or email her email@example.com and place your order!
Thank you, Teresa!