Friday Interview with A Shepardess and Artist November 15, 2013 11:25

Ever wonder where yarn comes from? Well, wonder no further good handmade craft loving citizens of the universe, because this week, I talked to artist Kelly Corbett who elaborates on her life as a shepardess and spinner of wools.    It's a pretty cool life so I'm strongly recommending you read on...

Introduce yourself.  Who are you, what do you make, and where do you make what you make?

Hello! I am Kelly Corbett -Artist/Shepherdess/Lover of sheep!  I spend my days designing, dyeing yarn, creating felting kits, doing barn chores, and having deep conversations about life with my sheep & goats. :)

Can you tell us a bit about Romney Ridge Farm?

Romney Ridge Farm was the result of dreams, desires and needs.  The dream of having a farm jived with the desire to be a work-at-home Mom for my three kids, and the need was the need for art and creativity in my life every day -every single day.  Our business has several products:  Needle Felting Kits, two lines of Maine-grown, hand-dyed yarns, and our very popular Farm Calendars & Note Cards.  
For our Signature Yarns, my sheep are the producers.   Good nutrition and lots of love feed their souls and they in turn feed mine.  We dye our yarns using dyes manufactured in Maine, and recycle our dye baths up to 10 times to reduce fuel and wasted water.  Dyelots are small, colorful and unique.

Where did you learn your craft?  Can you describe your process preparing the wool for sale or spinning into yarn.

Spinning wool into yarn happened quite by accident.  After many years of working with horses, I had my first child and shifted into the role of Mom.  I taught myself to knit then I was given a sheep who needed a home and I fell in love.  Suddenly I found myself with a small flock of primarily Romneys - a longwool breed.  A kind woman taught me how to spin then sold me her spinning wheel.  I was just giddy in love with the animals, and the whole process. Soon my flock grew and I learned more and more about processing, dyeing and designing.  When it became clear that people loved my products, my life shifted again and I contracted a spinnery to spin my yarns, but I continued the dyeing ... my favorite part.  Next came the need for more wool but also a need to keep a balance with feeding all those hungry woolies.  I began visiting and buying wool from local farms who were humane and kind to their animals.  I developed a line of yarns much different than my own line of yarns using down and medium grade wools and having them spun on a different spinning system.  

What is a typical day on the farm like for you?

Most days are the same before I begin my workday.  Morning chores consist of feeding hay and filling up water buckets.  I do a head count each day, several times a day to make sure everyone is up and healthy.  I rake the barn every couple of days and depending on the season I sit on the big rock in the paddock, or the giant pine tree stump up on the hill and scratch ears, drool over growing fleeces, and have long discussions with them about life.  It's very therapeutic.:)

How did you get involved in Craftland?

I saw and artist invitation on the Craftland website and thought my Needle Felting Kits would be a good fit. They are great fun for the Holidays, especially with kids  ... or a couple of girlfriends and a bottle of wine.  :) THANKS!

Do you sometimes get attached to the sheep? 

OHHHHHHH YES!  Over the years I have justified keeping many of my lambs. :) The first lamb born on our farm had to stay, Sprout's baby Mike who used to sleep in my arms had to be here forever, the lambs of two ewes that were given to me by a dear friend ...well, I had to keep every single one!  Yes, I am very attached to each and every lamb born here.  I am VERY picky about who I sell them to ... they always have the option of bringing them back if they can no longer keep them.  

Do you have any hobbies or favorite past times, shows you're addicted to, board games you like to pull out on rainy days, locations you like to haunt, a secret dream your quietly working on developing?

Well, of course I like to knit and it seems strange to say, but I don't really have much for hobbies.  My work keeps me so busy ... but it's hard to call it work when I love what I do so much!  I am a runner and love the outdoors.  Boston is my favorite city and I visit as much as possible.  Love the energy, diversity, food, and history of the city.  My secret dream involves cannolis  ... but that's all I can share for now.:):)
Kelly's needle felting kits, produced from wool by her beloved sheep friends, can be found here at Craftland this holiday season!