Earthsong Fiber is a family business owned and operated by my husband, Roger, and me, Mary Kay. It is part of a long-time dream of combining small homestead farming with a home business. For twelve years we lived on a small farm in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. There we raised our three children, most of our own food, various and sundry livestock, and began an apple orchard. There also we began to raise sheep and use their fiber for spinning, weaving, and knitting. In 1986 we left Trempealeau County to become involved with Waldorf Schools in California and then in Minnesota. Now, after about 20 years Roger & I are happily once again developing a 30-acre homestead farm in Polk County, Wisconsin. We have a small organic orchard of about 200 apple trees, a large garden, chickens, guinea fowl and ducks. We plan to build a small barn to house some larger livestock in the near future. If you call, we may be outside tending to the farm, but we check our answering machine often, so please leave a message!
We look forward to hearing from you...
Mary Kay Hagon
P.S. Earthsong Fibers has been in existence since 1985, when it was founded by the late Dana Kraemer, as Northfield Meadows. She provided a place for fiber gatherings and classes at her beautiful farm in Dalbo, Minnesota. In 1993 Susan Yue bought the business, moved it to Wayzata, Minnesota, and changed its name to Earthsong Fibers. We met Susan at the City of Lakes Waldorf School and when she decided to sell the business in 1995, we stepped in. For over a year Earthsong Fibers resided in Westby, Wisconsin at Bakke Farm where Kate Walter and Michael Wright, our friends and early partners in the business, ably handled all the day-to-day operations. In 1996, Earthsong Fibers returned to Minnesota and in the summer of 2005, came with us to its current home near Osceola, Wisconsin. We want to extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all those who have helped build Earthsong Fibers over the years, including you, our wonderful customers. MKH
Knitting, spinning, and all that...
My mother taught me to knit when I was a young teenager. The first thing I remember knitting was a coral cardigan for myself. I really loved knitting and took my projects along on high school ski trips, etc. (My friends called me Madame Dufarge as we had just finished reading The Tale of Two Cities in English class). I knit a Norwegian ski sweater for my boyfriend and then a matching one for myself. I had been sewing since my first home economics course in 7th grade, making many of my own clothes as well as lots of doll clothes for my little sister's dolls.
When at the University of Minnesota in the mid sixties, I was fortunate to take a weaving class as part of the course work for my Art Education degree. The course was taught by a Latvian weaver and it was wonderful! We each designed and made a rug on a large floor loom and produced a portfolio of samples of many patterns done on table looms.
Then came marriage, children and a homestead farm. I knitted sweaters for my husband and children, sewed clothes for children and dolls, and taught my children to knit. Our daughter learned to knit washcloths for her 4-H project. Our son knit and stuffed a small toy lamb for his little brother (who, in turn, later learned to knit in his Waldorf first grade.) It was on our farm where we also discovered the world of sheep. We built up a flock of Corriedale & Corriedale cross ewes. My husband learned to shear and, suddenly we had bags and bags of wonderful wool. My mother-in-law gave us her antique Norwegian spinning wheel and, I, spinning book in hand, began to spin my first lumpy yarn. What a thrill! I had read somewhere that accomplished spinners sometimes try to replicate their first spinning attempts for novelty yarns and find it difficult, so I hung on to each early skein. I eventually used them to weave a shawl on my rigid heddle loom and to crochet a number of shawls. I also discovered the joys of locker hooking and made pillow covers and wall hangings using our wide variety of colored fleeces.
Then came our move from the farm to pursue the experience of Waldorf Education for our children. We spent 4 years in Sacramento, California, and then moved to Minneapolis where we taught in and helped pioneer the development of the City of Lakes Waldorf School and Watershed High School. I took up spinning again and did some weaving on my rigid heddle loom. I found if I took my knitting to long and sometimes difficult faculty and board meetings, that somehow my thinking stayed clearer—the work with my hands grounded me. I also discovered that when I sat down at the spinning wheel, I had immediate feedback on the state of my body. If I was tense, the yarn spun too tightly; as I brought myself into a more relaxed state my yarn showed it—or if I relaxed my spin, my body came along. (Which came first—the chicken or the egg?) During this time I bought supplies from my friend Susan Yue, the owner of Earthsong Fibers. I was secretly a little envious of her—having this wonderful business. One day I went to her shop to get some roving for a shawl I wanted to spin and weave for my daughter's Christmas present, and she told me she was going to sell the business. It seemed meant to be—so we bought Earthsong Fibers
Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a new relationship to fiber. For a while I had to put my own fiber-work on hold as I learned the ins and outs of running a business, not to mention the acquiring of computer skills (which I had resisted mightily until then). We also had to learn about desktop publishing to create our Catalogs and Newsletters.
As you can probably tell, I am a long-time lover of and participant in the fiber arts, and I’m not an expert at any one of them. I am a firm believer that all of us have the potential to create beautiful things—and part of the mission of Earthsong Fibers is to help make fiberwork accessible to everyone. In the Waldorf Curriculum, handwork plays an important role. Beginning in 1st grade, all children are taught to knit, and handwork continues until graduation from the 12th grade. I was fortunate to assist the handwork teacher at the Sacramento Waldorf School in her wonderful classroom full of spinning wheels, looms, sewing machines, yarn, fiber, and dye pots and experience how important this work is to children of all ages.
So on we go with the fiber adventure. I look forward to meeting more of you at fiber fairs as well as discovering new fibers, products, and tools to offer you.
All the best,