The Shepherd’s Mill in Phillipsburg, Kan., will celebrate its 15th anniversary March 2 with a daylong downtown street fair, with a tour of the mill, live fiber animal display, educational workshops by fiber artists, presentations by llama farmer Cindy Ruckman, an alpaca/llama obstacle course and short make-it and take-it projects.
The event, “Together, we are better!” is presented in collaboration with the Golden Plains Llama and Alpaca Association annual conference to elevate public awareness of fiber animals and fiber artists.
Full-day and half-day workshops are available with professional fiber artists on dyeing, weaving, silk painting, choosing yarn, knooking, and creating a cowl. Visitors can try their hand at leading animals and working with fiber at exhibits throughout the day.
“This fair is designed to bring producers of all fiber animals together with fiber artists and the general public,” says Sally Brandon, who opened The Shepherd’s Mill with her husband Jay in 2004.
Sally, who had learned to weave on an exchange trip to Finland in the 1980s, was hand-spinning at her booth during an Alpaca show in Denver, when Jay became intrigued while talking to the couple in the next booth who owned a small mill. On the way home, he proposed that they enter the field.
“I wrote the business plan to prove to him that wasn’t what we wanted to be doing,” she recalls. We started the mill from scratch in our hometown with wonderful support from our local economic development and our local community. Here we are 15 years later.”
The couple has served clients from 44 states with fibers from alpaca to yak, including opossum, brown bear, wolf, dogs, Shetland ponies, and Scottish Highland cows. The Shepherd’s Mill, which has six employees, moved into its own building at 839 Third St. seven years ago, creating space where visitors can watch the work, shop, and take classes in fiber arts.
Eighty percent of the business is spinning yarn that goes into the hand-knitting market, including the mill’s special blends for sale. The company also produces some fabric, especially scarves, shawls, and throws.
“Together, we are better!” is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 2 in the 800 block of Third Street in Phillipsburg. In case of bad weather, the event moves to Phillips County Fairgrounds. Register at www.KansasFiber.com, Education.