Hand Spinner & Knitter, Lavender Creek Farm, Woodbury, CT
You can visit with June and enjoy seeing her wonderfully soft yarns, along with her hand-knitted and woven scarves, mittens and hats. She will be exhibiting at the Watertown Fiber Fest on Aug. 18, Main St, Route 63, Watertown CT, at the Oxford Arts & Crafts Festival onNov. 3, Center School, Route 67, Oxford, and at the Woodbury Craft Show on Dec. 1, Woodbury Middle School, Washington Ave, Woodbury.
June Bissonnette discovered her love for fiber at the same time she discovered alpacas—and was entirely surprised by her immediate recognition that this was something she was always meant to do. June lives with her husband Henry on a small farm in Connecticut that now houses five of the most personable animals you could ever expect to meet. Darcy, Nutmeg, Maeve, Bidelia, and Siobann all share a few acres of field and wooded land that has become a cozy home for the animals and a source of inspiration for June Several years ago before retiring from their corporate lives, June and Henry began to evaluate what they might do for their retirement.
On a trip to visit June’s sister in upstate NY, June attended a craft show and saw a competition for alpaca fiber and met some of the animals. She says she just “fell in love with them” and thought raising the animals was something she would enjoy doing. Within the space of two years the couple had prepared their property for the arrival of their first two alpacas. During this same period June met a spinner at the Big E fair in Springfield who encouraged her to learn how to spin the wonderful fiber she would be producing. She got a wheel and some roving and before she knew it, this former corporate type who “only knew how to crochet” when she started was spinning fiber from her own animals and creating beautiful yarns along with knitted and woven scarves, mittens and hats.
When she retired the company gave her a loom as a gift and she has since joined the spinning guild in her area and exhibits at craft and fiber shows in the region. June hand spins all of her fiber. She has some of it dyed but leaves most of the fiber in its natural color. Variations are created by blending the different colors together. The 5 alpacas each have their own distinct coloring including a bay black color provided by Darcy, a lovely medium brown color from Bidelia, a fawn color from Nutmeg, and ivory/white from both Siobann and Maeve.
When we visited the day was bright but cold. The alpacas have all the warmth they need, and while they enjoy a large well constructed mini-barn, they clearly prefer to be outdoors on the grounds, even in the coldest weather. Shearing occurs in May, before the heat becomes too much, and then their coats are allowed to grow for an entire year before the fiber is taken again. June told us that she gets about 3 lbs. of fiber from each animal after shearing. Five animals provide her with more than enough fiber to last her for the year and plenty of extra roving and spun yarn to sell as well.
These animals are shy but intensely curious. They followed us around during our visit – coming close only to get a treat of cut apples and fresh veggies. They are very quiet and make muted humming and purring sounds. Remarkably they have foot pads instead of hooves and use a communal place for elimination—habits that make them easy to maintain and have a low impact on the earth.
The qualities that June and Henry exhibit are a good match for our philosophy at Common Good Market. Respect for the earth, humane treatment of animals, and the creative and sustainable use of our resources to make beautiful, useful products you enjoy using every day. Please visit our e-commerce site for information about June’s roving, yarn, and beautiful woven and knitted pieces.