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22 miles of yarn is squishy bit of heaven

I really love yarn. Seriously, I REALY LOOOOOOOVE yarn. I love it so much that I have 155 different kinds and colors measuring 22 miles in my stash and I won’t even hesitate to acquire more. I have acrylic yarn, Peruvian sheep wool yarn, plastic yarn, bamboo yarn, silk yarn, Peruvian alpaca yarn, linen yarn, cotton yarn, White Violet’s alpaca yarn, and even yarn blended with crab shell proteins, which is naturally antibiotic. Yaaaaaaaaaaaarn.

Yarn is so cool! It is literally one of the building blocks of life. Without it, there would be no textiles. Absolutely none. Whether it is spun thinly for sewing thread or thick for chunky sweaters, knitted or woven, it all comes back

White Violet Center intern Alena Ruman with some of her lovely yarn.

to yarn. Each skein is the opportunity to create something beautiful and practical. An individual ball has infinite potential just waiting to be fulfilled. But it is also beautiful on its own. Hanks of yarn just showing off themselves without being woven or crocheted hold anticipation, like a compressed spring. Do you get it yet? Yarn is so amazing!

The most fulfilling part of my experience at the Woods as an intern is becoming an active part of the supply chain of yarn. There are hundreds of species and breeds of animals that produce fiber that can go into yarn; and each individual animal needs to be cared for accordingly. White Violet Center has a herd of 40 alpacas. As an intern, I’ve gone out in -20˚ wind chills or 90˚ sun bakes to take care of the animals that will produce the fiber that will be shorn in a few short weeks. I put up with getting spit at and kicked so that each animal is healthy, happy, and growing their fleeces.

Once the alpacas are shorn, we spend hours in the fiber room skirting and sorting the fleeces. Without our doing this, there would be no fiber to send to the mill. Without fiber being sent to the mill, there is no yarn. Without yarn, volunteers could not knit and crochet the yarn into works of art. Without the handmade pieces, Linden Leaf Gifts would not have any alpaca products to sell. As a result, the White Violet alpacas would serve no use except to stand there and look cute (which they do anyway).

In our pastures, there is only a fraction of a fraction of fiber producing animals on the planet. Even my 22 miles of yarn only represent a miniscule amount of the yarn that has ever and will ever be made. When you hold a skein of yarn in your hand, you hold the farmers, hay, water, vet care, skirting, carding, milling, spinning, plying, breeding of the animals, the birth of a baby, and the ultimate death of the animal that went into that squishy bit of heaven.

I just really love yarn. If the only thing I ever do in my life is play with yarn, it will be lived to the fullest.

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Alena Ruman

Alena Ruman

Alena Ruman, of Akron, Ohio, was a 2017-2018 intern at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice. She has a bachelor’s degree in international business from Grove City College. She is quite the fiber artist and many of her knitted hats have been sold in Linden Leaf Gifts at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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  1. Avatar Barbara Bluntzer SP on March 30, 2018 at 12:00 am

    A delightful story of your love for yarn…and the animals that produce it. You certainly must have enjoyed being around those alpacas and watching their (potential yarn) growing on them. Dream on! It’s great that you take such an interest in all this.

  2. Avatar Donna Butler on March 30, 2018 at 12:00 am

    I loved this delightful and informative blog and the fun you seemed to have creating it!

  3. Avatar Linda Miller on April 4, 2018 at 12:00 am

    I love the image of yarn being a coil ready to spring into something wonderful – I would agree the ideas are endless as is the collection of the potential materials! There is a timelessness to working with fiber as well, it’s something that has been done for thousands of years, and will continue to be so into the future. Those who study such things can learn a great deal about a culture by looking at their woven materials. I apreciate your love and care for the animals – and for the process and understanding of all different kinds of fiber.

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