Visiting a lambing flock on a sunny day in the end of February is just about one of the most hopeful things one can do at the end of a long winter, and it is a nice memory as we head back again into the fall. Norma Johnson Glacy and her husband Jim Glacy raise a small but very high quality flock of Romney sheep on Crazy Legs Farm near Fort Edwards, NY, and the lambs were just starting to stretch their legs in a little sunlight while we leaned on the barn gate and visited.
Norma has been a self- described “animal person” all her life with her family background in dairy cattle and her education at Cornell in Animal Science but she eventually turned to sheep and wool production. Her Crazy Legs Farm purebred registered Romney flock has provided both the Champion Fleece, and the All Breeds Champion Ewe at the Washington County Fair the last three years. Breeding for wool and confirmation, the flock has been a source of show stock for family and friend and the support of local young shepherds has been a source of tremendous satisfaction to the farm. A great many of Norma’s kids and grandkids have shown her animals at the Fair.
The Canal Street Farmer’s Market, in Fort Edwards NY, is another beneficiary of Crazy Legs Farm’s production. Norma’s booth there provides vegetables, wool and wool products, including fleeces, dyed and natural roving, homespun yarn, socks and blankets. The market in Fort Edwards takes place beginning June 4th (as currently scheduled) through September, in the newly renovated Canal Barn in Fort Edward at 63 Canal Street. The barn is a 200 year old building, disassembled and moved into Fort Edward for use as a repair and storage site for the Champlain Canal work.
I was thrilled to be asked to weave a few throws, shawls, scarves and table runners for her out of her lovely wool. Crazy Legs’ wool was selling as roving and yarn but such products do require a consumer who is also a fiber artist of some sort. If she could offer finished products such as throws, wraps and scarves, her pool of possible buyers increases to everyone who likes nice scarves (a much bigger pool).
Battenkill Fiber Mill in Greenwich spun her wool into 2 yarns, an 1800 yard per pound single and a 900 ypp plied yarn. The singles will go into the lighter fabrics of shawls and scarves, while the plied yarn will go into throws. The flock provided 3 colors of ivory, pale grey and a mid grey. My designs will aim at lovely low contrast work that can be both interesting and soothing to the eye, while preserving the delicious live feel of the Romney wool.
This communal aspect of my work is one of the things I Iike best: the ability to showcase the entire community that goes into the making of the finished object. It is profoundly satisfying to stand shoulder to shoulder with Norma and her flock of beautiful Romney sheep and with the skilled spinners of the Battenkill Fiber Mill, and to design weaving that showcases all the skills that go into that wool. Norma’s Romney flock produces a quality of wool I’ve come to love on the loom, strong, lustrous and with a low bloom in the finishing process. As we discussed possible items and designs, it became clear that Norma and my collaboration should focus on emphasizing the beauty of her wool and that my weaving should showcase the best qualities of her wool.
When you look for her beautiful wool at the markets this summer and fall, you’ll be able to decide if we were successful. I think so