Missouri woman spins yarn from her farm

Monday, October 19, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

SMITHTON — Luann Stovall sees the coats of the farm animals she loves turned into colorful scarves, socks, sweaters, coin purses, mittens and hats.

Stovall has 50 animals on her Smithton farm, most of which she sheers and then spins the fiber into yarn.

"The thing about spinning is it's very relaxing," Stovall, 62, said. "To take something out in your pasture then making something so beautiful out of it, it's very rewarding."

Stovall and her husband, Jim, wanted to retire on a farm. They bought the homestead near Smithton about three years ago. Jim Stovall got three horses and Luann Stovall got two Great Pyrenees, which are big dogs with long, thick coats.

It was the Pyrenees, named Snow and Lobo, which led Stovall to take up spinning fiber about two years ago. She had always enjoyed creative arts and crafts and made quilts for several years.

When she told people about the dogs, "They would say, 'Oh, you know you can spin their fiber,'" she said.

The comments peaked Stovall's interest enough to buy her first spinning wheel. Stovall taught herself how to spin with a little assistance from videos on YouTube. She went to Warsaw with a friend and there they saw baby Angora goats.

"I had to get some," said Stovall, who is a retired school teacher.

The Stovall farm has seven Angora goats, which produce mohair, four French Angora bunnies, four Shetland sheep, one llama and one alpaca.

Stovall sheers some of the animals and also hires someone else to sheer the goats, sheep, llama and alpaca.

Once the fiber is sheered, she washes and process it using a carder, a large spindled brush that smoothes the fiber.

The fibers can be dyed using anything from tea bags to Kool-Aid. Stovall used the fiber for felting projects or spins it into yarn to knit, crochet, or weave.

"The fiber arts are just endless," she said. Equipped with a supply of fiber in her own backyard, Stovall is a serious spinner.

"Once you spin your own yarn, you won't buy yarn anymore," she said.

Stovall said spinning fiber into yarn is calming and likens it to meditation.

Three spinning wheels are set up in Stovall's living room. She bounces from wheel to wheel, spinning different fibers of various colors.

"It just makes me happy to go from one to the other," she said.

One of the wheels, she calls "The Bee," is decorated with stickers of bees. It is collapsible, making it portable.

"I'll spin in the airport with that," she said.

Fiber and skeins of hand spun yarn can be found throughout Stovall's home. Baskets of yarn and completed projects sit in the window sills and laundry baskets and bags of raw fiber fill the basement.

"I do something with the fiber arts every single day," she said.

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