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Greetings from Martha Owen Dec 23, 2023

03 Jan 2024 12:11 PM | Susette Shiver (Administrator)

Martha Owen, a member and participant in Local Cloth activities sends this year re-cap to all!

Dec 23, 2023

Dear Wooly Colorful Friends, 

Today is one of the shortest days of the year and I feel like it is time for me to stop a minute and send you the season's greetings! I used to send out a physical annual greeting but now with the luxury of a computer to use, I send you Good Cheer!  Yeah, like everywhere all at once.  We all had a big year one way and another and I meant to send a few follow up notes for each class and adventure I was part of in 2023. Today is the day to start/finish!

Let see, sheep and wool and conversation, and laughter and stories, that is what it is always about for me.  But also a pile of odd Martha Owen things for your interest. Find below information  I meant to send along all through the year.  If you have something to add and or ask again then send me a hello!  Here in North Carolina at the moment it is bright and cold. What is cold you say?  Well, 1-2 sweater weather plus sometimes a scarf and a hat and sometimes all that and gloves and wooly blanket to wrap up in!  Oh, and big barn boots and wind breaker!  

The list of interesting facts from last year and our time together starts with that flash of excitement, honest labor, the frustration of learning, the stress of travel and hoped for and looked for satisfying outcomes.  And as we all know, it was and is good to be together.  

Here are some of the odd bits I promised someone some time to send along.  Read what you wish to read and pass along to anyone who might be interested. I am a student of every living thing.  My personal policy is to give, to give, to give!  So here you go if you are interested. You have been a great gift to me and don’t you forget it.  ( Oh, but remind me when and where we met! So many lucky lovely friends now.) 

I have been writing reminders on my lined pad, let's see:

  • Appelya is a Shetland Fire Festival which started waaay back with the Vikings.  You can see some of the idea portrayed in Shetland, the TV series which brought Ann Cleeves' novels to life. 
  • Pencil roving sources:  Zeilingers … ( in Frankenmuth Michigan) medium fine wool so, soft, Icelandic lopi The Wooly Thistle ( comes in many colors, combines outer and underwool. Long, strong and a bit hairy.  2 sizes/thicknesses
  • Books to look into about spinning, thinking of kids When I went off to college the first time my greatest desire was to be a great children’s story writer.  Instead, I became a teller of stories to children but have still continued to collect many around the spinning and sheep and wool ideas.  
  • Dedication of the Cory Brown Memorial Dye Garden. While this was an emotional event  for Donna Brown and family and me, Cory Brown Memorial Dye Garden Dedication This small act emphasizes the importance of many things. Like a garden that you can visit for starters.  A place of contemplation and of gathering dye and food stuffs.  Grow it, see it, use it and repeat.  That is the best!  (  
  • Melissa Weaver Dunning ( and I taught together and sung together in this year.  We met up at MAFA ( The Mid Atlantic Fiber Arts Conference. There we did something we titled “Worsted, Woolen, Woven” which is a shorter version of “Sing ‘Till the Works all Done” at the Folkschool. We tried to bring  different fleece types and their gifts, dyeing, spinning and WEAVING together.  And we all know I need my dear friend to help on the weaving side.  I mean it's her name!  What else could she do!   We are on to do this again at the Folkschool fall 2024.
  • Then there was a quick run down to Piney Woods Farm, La Grange Georgia, where we did a too quick series of workshops and met a whole new boat load of friends.  This time I was teaching with Emolyn Liden, my own daughter! Facebook Emolyn Knits.@rovingknitter instagram. We did a day of dyeing, spinning and knitting.  Piney Woods Farm How proud am I. So much fun to have someone in my own family that speaks my language . Here we were as the first morning song after the shutdown in the pandemic era! I do cry.  
  • At SAFF (  we worked on our hand carding and long draw and how to tune up and spin on a high/great/walking wheel.  There are wheels around for those looking and several have been offered to me this year.  Finally, here you go!  There are more I know but not sure where I wrote it down!  If you are looking please remind me.
  • Hazel Tindall - on-line fastest knitter entry Shetland style knitting learned before learning to read and write.  Hazel will be here Fall 2024. Martha traveled all the way to Shetland to learn this knitting style about 28 years ago and I am glad to show/teach you!  I am doing a class called Seven Ways to Knit and a Dye Pot on the side in March 2024 at the Folkschool! I will show you then.  
  • 'How to knit perfect fingers' - a free video tutorial with Elizabeth Johnston.(This is the tutorial video that Cherie in Michigan watched many times which prompted her to go find Elizaebth and to invite her and then me to Michigan in November!)  If you don’t want to do any fingers you can simply listen to her sweet Shetland voice. She IS speaking so we can understand her on you tube!  Spinning/yarn design (From Shakers to Shetlanders: gifts and Purpose Nov 2023 FS!)  was great fun and took us in many directions.  Great.  
  • Travel notes for those who want to see my ideas the last time I traveled to Shetland, Aug 22.Travel Tips
  • Indigo tips:  Indigo dyeing is like alchemy This document is a handout. I am not sure if I handed it out! BUT here are the things I am looking to see if I am doing 1,2,3 Vats which I learned from Michel Garcia, Catharie Ellis and Melanie Wilder or Lye or Washing soda and, Thiourea Dioxide vat which I learned from Jim Liles and Carla Owen.  I am always trying to see if the “vat is in order.”  There are a few things I am always muttering about:  1 there should be a unique aroma.  2 the vat should be amber or yellow green 3 on the surface there should be speckles that look like mica chips 4 if the vat is too blue it needs more reducing agent, if too yellow it needs to be paddle to add air.  
  • I went to see my guy, mentor and loved one, Norman Kennedy, in early May and to help with the first week of a one month class called From Fleece to Fulling Marshfield School of Weaving Follow all the links and prompts and you will see the physical structure where Norman started the school many years ago. It was reopened by Kate and now continues on with Justin in the lead.  Norman reached 90 years last August.  My sweet dear friend.
  • In 2024 we have some new Navajo Friends traveling to western North Carolina! Look for Tahnibaa Naataani  May 12-17 and  Felt and Embellishment:Experiments in Wool and Culture followed by a hip Spindle Weekend, The Sheep Told Me .  And in October 2024 Gloria and Ken Begay offer Navajo Traditions from Fleece to Rug.  There are many others to tell you about but the search for these new friends took place over long years and facilitating communication has been the most work of this year!  
  • There is still room for a new format for me. You can sign up to do one week or both.  There is time in between to practice and be ready for the next class!
  • There are many ideas brewing but we are not ready to talk about them all quite yet. We are looking for a few lambs in May!  And we are thinking about the session to do in Grand Marais at the North House Folkschool in April 2024. Lindsey Liden, my son, ( is coming along this time, woodworking and wool working, yep that’s us.  Want to travel to the frozen north with us? Alrighty!  North House Folk School
  • Season 1 Part 1 and Part 2 Red Bones.  Also on You tube

What the Helly Aa? (Your guide to Shetland's Up Helly Aa fire festivals)

I met Zoe last year at the International Fungi and Fiber Conference in Port Townsend Washington.  It was love at first meet up!  But she fits into this year and next  as well! We'll be welcoming her back in the Fall of 2024.  

We chatted briefly at the “Anything Fiber Sale” Local Cloth about some spinning wheels the Overmountain Weavers Guild was selling that had belonged to Persis Grayson. I have since noticed that you are teaching Great Wheel Care and spinning at SAFF this year.We chatted briefly at the “Anything Fiber Sale” Local Cloth about some spinning wheels the Overmountain Weavers Guild was selling that had belonged to Persis Grayson. I have since noticed that you are teaching Great Wheel Care and spinning at SAFF this year.

Exchange Place Living History farm, Kingsport, TN has 3-4 extra Great Wheels we are offering for sale, for $150 each. They have all their parts and need a loving spinner toExchange Place Living History farm, Kingsport, TN has 3-4 extra Great Wheels we are offering for sale, for $150 each. They have all their parts and need a loving spinner to use them. If anyone approaches you looking for a great wheel I hope you will give them my contact information. Interested parties may call and leave a message at Exchange Place, 423-288-6071 or leave a message at with the contact tab, or write to my email.

And of course I was so pleased to spend a nice long time with my pal Elizabeth Johnston.  

I really think this is enough to be going on about.  As I think I mentioned it was some year for the little shepherdess. In 2024 there are a few things coming that I am already studying on. Maybe we will meet again soon?

Always and forever I must mention my home place, the John C Campbell Folkschool I

Online:  Lessonface and the Folkschool (

Home Grown: Fair Isle Knitting Starting with Color (Part B) with Martha Owen (Feb. 26-Mar. 1)

Home Grown: Spinning for Fair Isle Knitting (Part A) with Martha Owen 

(Feb. 12, 14 & 16)

Please send a hello.  This has been an all day visit here from this computer and as I mentioned many times, one lovely ambitious year!  I will now go looking for all your email addresses and post a series of pictures on my instagram account @marthaowenwoolens and that will jump over to my Facebook account martha owen woolens. ( My daughter Annie Fain Barralon set me up!) If you do those kinds of things, please ask to join the Facebook group called Martha’s Flock which a loving student created a few years ago. I faithfully promise that I will only ever ever write about sheep and wool there. If you know me VERY VERY  well you might read something else but from here it is sheep and wool and gardens and angora rabbits and music and well it's a big life.

And too,  come see us.  The sheep say maaaaah and The John C Campbell Folk school says, Welcome aboard.  

You have been a great gift to me.

Best Wishes in all things. 

Martha Owen


Martha Owen Woolens

Local Cloth, Inc.

408 Depot Street, #100

Asheville, NC 28801

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