Woolful Podcast

Episode 41: David Ritchie, Claire Wilson, Libby Mills and Kate Salomon – Study groups, building a New England fiber mill, growth of a fiber family and Green Mountain Spinnery

November 17, 2015

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Sponsor: Ewetopia is a local yarn shop in rural Viroqua, WI, carrying a beautiful selection of yarns and fibers, including their very own line of hand dyed yarns. One of my favorite things about Ewetopia is it’s generational foundation, the shop was started by Kathryn Ashley-Wright and later her mother Lisa Ashley joined her as partner in the business. Along with Kathryn’s grandmother Gloria and her daughters Stella and Mae…you’ll sometimes find all four generations busy around the shop…what a special thing to have. In addition to the Ewetopia shop and yarn brand, Kathryn and her family have a farm in southwestern Wisconsin where they grow certified organic hay and rotationally graze their flock of 50 ewes…comprised of Corriedale, Border Leicester and Merino crosses, which contribute to their Ewetopia yarn and fiber line. If you’re in the Viroqua area or just passing through, make sure to visit them in person. You can find a selection of Ewetopia yarns and fibers, and more info on the shop and farm online at ewetopiafibershop.com. And find them on Instagram @ewetopiayarn.

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Fiber folk: To me, Green Mountain Spinnery is one of the staples of the fiber industry, and has been since founded in 1981 by David Ritchie, Libby Mills, Claire Wilson and Diana Wahle. I first learned about the spinnery through my friend Annie, who is a huge advocate of their yarns. Then all of the sudden I kept hearing about the everywhere…that’s how it goes yeah? haha. The more I learned, the more I loved. From their humble hardworking beginnings, to creating an organic yarn, their formation of a coop and their overall beautiful influence within this fiber community…I’ve met few others in this industry with such a rich history and gratitude for what wool has brought them. Today you get to hear a bit of that history and hear that richness in their stories, as David, Libby, Claire and Kate tell the Green Mountain Spinnery story. You can find Green Mountain Spinnery at spinnery.com and on Instagram @greenmtnspinnery.

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Photos by Kathy Cadigan, Green Mountain Spinnery and Megan MacDonald

tolt yarn and wool logo

Sponsor: In 2013, Anna Dianich opened Tolt Yarn and Wool. a local yarn shop in the beautiful Pacific Northwest town of Carnation, Washington. A couple weeks back we celebrated Tolt’s second anniversary, with the release of a very special book, Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool. When we pick up our needles and cast-on the first stitch, we become part of something much bigger than the project at hand. Farmers, shearers, spinners and dyers are working hard not only to produce the yarn we love, but to preserve a way of life that is at real risk of being lost. Farm to Needle invites you to join a journey; to peek behind the scenes of some of our favorite producers and gain a deeper understanding of the people, places, and animals at work. Discover Aspen Hollow Farm, Green Mountain Spinnery, Imperial Stock Ranch, Thirteen Mile Farm, YOTH, Saco River Dye House, and Twirl through patterns by Dianna Walla, Tif Fussell, Veronika Jobe, Karen Templer, Andrea Rangel, Annie Rowden and myself. This book was beautifully captured by a hardworking team, lead by Anna and Kathy Cadigan. You can find Farm to Needle at toltyarnandwool.com

And if you’ve had the privilege of visiting Tolt in person, you know how truly amazing this place is. It’s evident the heart and soul Anna and her incredible team put into creating an experience that feels like home with your fiber family. What a special place to have in this fiber community of ours. Make sure to visit Tolt in Carnation and online at toltyarnandwool.com for a very special collection of fibers, notion and books.

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Giveaway:  The winner of last week’s giveaways are, Margaret – you’ve won two skeins of Quince and Co Osprey yarn in Caspian from Cream City Yarn, and Yasmin – you’ve won Loop London’s new book, 10. Congratulations!

This week’s giveaway’s are sponsored by Tolt Yarn and Wool – who’s giving away a copy of their new book, Farm to Needle and Green Mountain Spinnery – who’s giving away two skeins of their Vermont Organic worsted yarn, made from Tunis/Dorset wool. To be one of the winners of this week’s giveaways, leave a comment this blog post.

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Music by Jónsi.

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102 Comments

  • Reply Patty Gnass November 17, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the podcast.

  • Reply Claire November 17, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    wonderful! – can’t wait for my commute home today to catch up on this family’s story

  • Reply Ashlyn November 17, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    What an AMAZING giveaway this week!!! Can’t wait to listen to this episode while I enjoy a warm cup of chicory coffee and knit^_^

  • Reply TheSlowCatwalk November 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    and another great episode!

  • Reply mary m November 17, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Oh what a wonderful giveaway! I have been stalking farm to needle since it first started previewing.

  • Reply Emily Boyd November 17, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I love Tolt Yarn and Wool’s whole aesthetic and their products!

  • Reply kelsey sylvia November 17, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    as a former vermonter this was near and dear to me.the use of 100 year old machinery is very familiar and speaks of the history of fiber and craft.these folks have intentionally created their dreams and loving what you do is key to a happy and abundant life.lovely and gentle podcast ashley and your inquiries are always sincerely met.still recyling old seaters for wool as my sustainable way of.keeping the wool alive.thank you again for a very indepth interview.

  • Reply Deborah Francis November 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I will be visiting Green Mountain Spinnery on my next trip through Vermont! Thank you for this story.

  • Reply Susan November 17, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    I worked with Green Mountain Spinnery yarn years ago — fascinating to learn the story behind the yarn all these years later. Will have to put that garment back into circulation now!

  • Reply Marina Gvozdeva November 17, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    It’s been truly amazing to hear the wool story that has started so many decades ago! the use of old machinery and complete organic production is quite fascinating.

  • Reply Julie November 17, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    So wonderful! Thanks for doing what you do!

  • Reply Kaat November 18, 2015 at 1:20 am

    Wishing I was still living in Washington. I do hope to visit Seattle and Washington again after 30 years and I will certainly include all miils and yarnshops that I am reading about in the podcasts

  • Reply Santa November 18, 2015 at 1:56 am

    What a beautiful story!

  • Reply Victoria Zhong November 18, 2015 at 4:55 am

    It’s so great to see what the story behind this family!

  • Reply Charlotte November 18, 2015 at 5:17 am

    Such a beautiful book – and yarn too of course!

  • Reply Julia de Boer November 18, 2015 at 5:22 am

    Wow, I was hoping to learn more about Green Mountain Spinnery! Yippee, off to listen! (Also, Farm to Needle looks sooo beautiful!)

  • Reply Denise November 18, 2015 at 6:14 am

    I have loved Green Mountain Spinnery from day one. The book looks lovely. Thanks for your podcasts and great information, as well as a chance at the giveaway.

  • Reply Kristi November 18, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Always lovely and inspiring!

  • Reply Abby November 18, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Two of my favorites! I used Green Mountain Spinnery for a cowl I knit last year and it is by far my favorite cowl to wear.

  • Reply Caitlin November 18, 2015 at 6:40 am

    I missed visiting Green Mountain Spinnery on a trip to VT last month. Next time there I will definitely take a tour!

  • Reply Kathy November 18, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Thanks for this wonderful episode. It’s great to learn some of the history of Green Mountain Spinnery.

  • Reply Brittany November 18, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Thanks for another great episode! This one was unique and fascinating.

  • Reply Tobie November 18, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I enjoy your podcast!

  • Reply Claudia November 18, 2015 at 9:05 am

    So grateful for these podcasts; having the opportunity to win something is a bonus!

  • Reply Christen November 18, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Gorgeous yarn and book.

  • Reply Yasmin November 18, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I loved getting to hear the history of Green Mountain Spinnery! Now I am wishing I had bought their yarn at SAFF….

  • Reply Morgan November 18, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Yet another podcast that I can’t wait to listen to! I have been a fan of Green Mt. Spinnery since before I was even aware of local and small mill yarns. Awesome!

  • Reply Megan November 18, 2015 at 11:59 am

    I love Green Mountain Spinnery! It was so great to hear more about how they came to be!

  • Reply Life With The Crew November 18, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon – knitting by the woodstove and listening to a great story about a small successful American company. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Ashlee Klemm November 18, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    I loved this week’s podcast! We are moving to NH in 2017 and will definitely be stopping by the Spinnery!

  • Reply Suz November 18, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Very inspiring. Thanks!!

  • Reply Rain November 18, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Love that photo of the Green Mountain team in their woolens! Would love to win Tolt’s awesome new book and some GMS yarn!!

    Thank you!!

  • Reply Dana November 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I love Green Mountain Spinnery. 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Reply Julia November 18, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Great podcast! Just purchased a sweater quantity of Green Mountain Spinnery yarn at SAFF and it was wonderful to hear their story.

    Juliaknit on Ravelry

  • Reply Joyce Hensel November 18, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Had a great time at the Nov, Workshop with the spinnery people. I love their yarn.

  • Reply Janet November 19, 2015 at 3:48 am

    Great to hear Green Mountain Spinnery’s story. I love their yarn. I just bought a sweaters worth at Rhinebeck this year. One day I will get to Tolt Yarn and Wool. Thank you for another wonderful podcast. P.S. your yurt looks lovely. I liked your stove.

  • Reply sophie (kamalalotus on rav, sophie_kamalaine on ig) November 19, 2015 at 4:12 am

    I’ve been dreaming of Tolt book and i’d love to discover the wool as well. For a non native speaker, this podcast required an intense attention, the phone line making it a bit difficult!

  • Reply Neza November 19, 2015 at 4:30 am

    Another great episode, thank you Ashley!

  • Reply Caitlin November 19, 2015 at 5:41 am

    Another great episode!

  • Reply Mary Anne November 19, 2015 at 5:47 am

    Wonderful to hear about passion for yarn that goes back decades and is still going strong. Green Mountain Spinnery is a testament to the endurance of love of fiber.

  • Reply Rachel November 19, 2015 at 7:58 am

    I just discovered wool felting and this podcast! I am so excited! Thank you!

  • Reply Elaine November 19, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Amazing story. Thank you

  • Reply Margaret November 19, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Very interesting podcast — nice to hear the history of an established company that has been around for over 30 years. Thanks again for a great podcast. And thanks for the prize too!

  • Reply Ramona November 19, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I loved hearing the background of a company I’ve heard admired on many podcasts. I really appreciate the depth of information in this podcast. I love the contrast with the other podcasts I listen. to.

  • Reply Molly November 19, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    I love being able to learn about such amazing companies and people. Thank you!

  • Reply Cheryl November 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Thank you so much for giving ever aspect of the fibre world a forum to voice their amazing stories. In such a complicated world, it is beautiful to just slow down and listen to your very thoughtful guest talk about their very “slow” process. You are a saint to celebrate theses heros from farm to needle.

  • Reply Jamie Dear November 19, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Another inspiring episode – thanks!

  • Reply Annie November 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    I’m so lucky to have Tolt within driving distance of my home (Seattle)–a great shop and community. And another great episode!

  • Reply jess November 19, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    can’t wait to listen to this episode! I just finished knitting a sweater in Verb’s Flock yarn, which was spun here. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Chris Willow November 19, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    I so look forward to these podcasts! Loved hearing the story of this beginnings of this mill!

  • Reply Elyse Marie November 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Just last week I thought that the cast with Pam Allan couldn’t be topped- and then you do this one. The richness, memories, and beauty of this crew sharing their fiber history is so thoughtful and moving- thanks for bringing these precious stories to all of our ears.

  • Reply monica November 19, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Would love to read Farm to Needle as I have my own fiber animals and love giving knitted gifts to friends from my alpacas. Looking forward to getting sheep one day!

  • Reply Vicki November 19, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    I loved the episode. I’d love to go tour the mill some day. I found out about Green Mountain Spinnery when I started spinning, but now it’s more special knowing the back story.

  • Reply Caitlin November 19, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Lots of great sweaters in that group photo! Thanks for another episode 🙂

  • Reply Doreen MacL November 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks for another very interesting podcast. Wonderful to hear that a new generation of committed sheepy folk is taking over too.

  • Reply Bowen Gibson November 19, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    I love their story and the amount of research they put in before launching the business. It’s more traditional than what we often hear today and it takes all kinds!

  • Reply Allie November 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    What a great episode to listen to–hearing all the laughter was really delightful. Thanks for sharing another lovely talk!

  • Reply Carolyn Glauz-Todrank November 19, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    I have long been a fan of Green Mountain Spinnery. I love their yarn, but, at least as important to me is the spirit behind the yarn. I still have a skein of their yarn that I bought sometime in the 80’s. It represents something wonderful to me about the yarn community that GMS has embodied and fostered for almost 35 years now. Thank you for a lovely podcast.

  • Reply Jennie November 20, 2015 at 3:09 am

    What a fun group of people! I so enjoyed hearing the history behind Green Mountain Spinnery.

  • Reply Naomi November 20, 2015 at 6:21 am

    Can’t wait to listen.

  • Reply danielle November 20, 2015 at 6:30 am

    worker owned yarn?! inspiring. also cute dog!

  • Reply Casey November 20, 2015 at 7:56 am

    What a great fiber story! I love the laughing in this episode 🙂

  • Reply Katherine T. Howard November 20, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I have heard the name Green Mountain Spinnery a lot but learning more about the company was truly wonderful. If my husband and I ever take another road trip through Vermont I’m going to insist that we put a stop here on the itinerary. Great show!

  • Reply Lynne Fallon November 20, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Love Green Mountain Spinnery! I have a sweater that I made several years ago out of mountain mohair and it still looks great. An added bonus, I live close enough to drive there.

  • Reply Toshi November 20, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Thank you

  • Reply Marilyn November 20, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Proof that it pays to follow your dream. I really appreciate hearing how the transition over to a new generation of worker/owners is met with open minds and anticipation of new ideas. With an attitude like that, this company will be around for a long, long time.

  • Reply Colleen November 20, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I always love hearing from the old guard in the fiber community, those businesses that paved the way and kept evolving. Thank you for another great episode!

  • Reply Wysteria November 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Great podcast. Just caught up with all the ones downcast would download. Thanks for what you do!

  • Reply Megan M November 20, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve been hinting to my husband that I’d love a copy of Farm to Needle for Christmas — I don’t think he’s catching on!

  • Reply Ginni November 20, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Such lovely folks on this podcast and that book… gah! Need. <3

  • Reply Jenifer November 20, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Seeing the picture of the GMS peopleHas brought me back to where I need to be, authentic to myself and what how I interact with the world. I currently live in a place that asks me when I’ll be dying my greying hair and where handcrafts and talks of sustainability are rarely heard. Your podcast is a lifeline helping me to solidify my vision of myself during a time of change. Thank you for your hard work and show casing others sincere efforts as well.

    Rav I’d. Jreed86

  • Reply hd November 21, 2015 at 6:03 am

    so excited to her this one. Thanks again for your inspiring podcast!

  • Reply Siri November 21, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    The very first pair of socks I ever knit was a thick pair knit, I think, from a ragg-like grey Green Mountain Spinnery yarn from a pattern in an old Knitter’s magazine issue. I still have one of those socks, rather felted, tucked away with our Christmas decorations, soon to be brought out again.

  • Reply Emily Hetherington November 21, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    I’ve loved getting to know GMS through the Tolt folk and learning more is as delicious as I had hoped it would be. I love strengthening the connections between those of us here working on aslow fashion, handmade wardrobe, renewable resource filled lives with the rich history of those that have been doing all of this as a sensible way of life for a good long time. Yeah!

  • Reply Kristi November 21, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Just discovered this podcast!! Love it!

  • Reply Whitney November 21, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Another great podcast as usual. Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories.

  • Reply bookboxer November 21, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Just finding you … and doing lots of catch-up listening. Many thanks

  • Reply Anna November 21, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Loved hearing these folks smile and laugh recollecting their beginnings. Awesome that they’re a co-op, something I didn’t know before. I pretty much want to ONLY work with Green Mtn Spinnery’s yarn from now on, in each of their many custom and retail incarnations. Love their story, attitude, and yarn!

  • Reply Meagan November 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Love the show every time, thank you for sharing your work.

  • Reply HeiM November 22, 2015 at 2:40 am

    Great podcast. Thanks for the chance to win.

  • Reply Katja Brombach-Bunse November 22, 2015 at 6:00 am

    I read about the Woolful podcast two weeks ago and I am absolutely thrilled. I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks while I am knitting. For me it is THE perfect combination to learn more about the lovely fiber community and to get on with my projects. It was wonderful to listen to Pam Allen whose designs I love and the story of Green Mountain Spinnery is very interesting, too. I am looking forward to catch up with the older podcasts! !!!

  • Reply Helen November 22, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Great episode, Ashley! I loved listening to it and now heavily browsing the GMS website. Think a worsted sweater will be on my needles before long…

  • Reply Erin November 22, 2015 at 7:12 am

    The giveaways on this podcast are the BEST….I’ve never tried Tunis, and it sounds interesting with the Dorset.

  • Reply isabel November 22, 2015 at 8:01 am

    another excellent episode. Thank you so much. Tolt is a 6 hour drive from where I live. One of these days I will make it over there!!!!

  • Reply Carmen N November 22, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Ewetopia is a great place – I just wish I lived a bit closer

  • Reply Jessica Muller November 22, 2015 at 11:21 am

    This was so interesting to listen to! Driving up toward Seattle from Portland this week. Perhaps I can talk the hubby into stopping by Tolt…. 🙂

  • Reply Irene Marks November 22, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    What a wonderful episode. So enjoyable to hear the relationship and process in the genesis and continuation in Green Mt Spinnery. I always stop by there at Rhinebeck, and it is fun to see all the yarns. Please enter me in the contests for this week. Thanks for the podcast
    Irene

  • Reply Johanna Giesbrecht November 22, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    What a fantastic and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing your journey

  • Reply JIll November 23, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Thank you for another great giveaway and another great episode! Woolful is always a bright spot in my week!

  • Reply Savannagal November 23, 2015 at 11:25 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast. It’s always so nice to hear about people living their dream. I really like Green Mountain Spinnery yarn. I love the rustic quality it has. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Reply Cathy B November 23, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Love Green Mountain Spinnery yarns. Hope I’m lucky!

  • Reply Josiah Bain November 23, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you for the podcast!

  • Reply Nikki Solomon November 24, 2015 at 3:42 am

    Oh my, I love both of these wonderful companies! Thank you for the inspiration and valued resources.

  • Reply Beth S November 24, 2015 at 5:12 am

    Great podcast! I love anything that involves wool and Vermont!!

  • Reply teegan November 24, 2015 at 7:53 am

    this is such a cool story! it’s neat to hear from such an established company.

  • Reply Kerry November 24, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I am a Washington native so I love this podcast!

  • Reply Gwen Dreyer November 24, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Origin stories never get old.

  • Reply Colleen Davis November 24, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Very excited to listen to this episode!

  • Reply Renee Maine November 25, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Loved this podcast. So inspiring. I want to move to Vermont now and be part of this co-op!

  • Reply Shari November 25, 2015 at 8:39 am

    I love the Green Mountain Spinnery peeps! All of these mill stories and their beginnings have been a real pleasure to listen to, thanks 🙂

  • Reply Kim November 27, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Just found you guys – am looking forwards to exploring your site!

  • Reply FIBERuary Green Mountain Spinnery | FIBERuary February 20, 2016 at 7:43 am

    […] can learn a bit more about the founders by listening to Woolful podcast episode 41.  David, Claire and Libby share their memories of starting the Spinnery as well as their […]

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