The nascent Mahoning Valley Fiber Guild puts forth an open invitation to all that are interested in the world of fiber. They will be hosting exhibits from raising animals for fiber to spinning and weaving.
The Fiber Fair takes place today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lomah Farm, 330 Breezewood Dr. in Lehighton. The event is free.
The Fiber Fair will have displays of finished handmade fiber products such as hats, gloves and sweaters. There will be demonstrations of weaving, spinning, quilting and felting. There will be two feature presentations: on Angora rabbits and on Nigora goats.
The Angora rabbit is a docile large rabbit, with much of it apparent size due to an abundant fiber coat. A member of 4-H will discuss the care and feeding of the Angora rabbit, and discuss it unique features such as being docile to the point of lying in the lap as a spinner culls its hair and spins it into thread.
Nicole Zellner is in charge of a herd of eight goats, which includes six Nigora goats, at Lomah Farm. The Nigora, a recent cross between the Nigerian dwarf and the Angora goat, succeeds in doing two things well – it is both a superior milk goat and fiber goat. She will take participants on a tour of the farm and demonstrate the feeding and harvesting of the goat fiber.
Lomah Farm's name is an abbreviation of 'the land of milk and honey," a name that Chaz and Susan Zellner gave to the six-acre farm when they purchased it several years ago with the dream of raising dairy goats and honeybees.
The bees didn't work out, but they still have the goats, although they have only been raising these goats for several months. Before that, for ten months, they raised alpacas.
Lomah Farm has been home to three generations of fiber fanciers: grandmother Claudette Gosselin, mother Susan Zellner, and daughter Nicole Zellner. "Mom always wanted to have alpacas," Susan said. "Chaz and I were on vacation in Chicago and we went into an alpaca farm to buy her some roving so that she could do needle felting." One thing led to another and they bought three male alpacas: Vega – black, Draco – white, and Houston – brown. They bought a pick-up truck and brought them home as a surprise present for Claudette.
The alpacas produced a large quantity of excellent fiber, enough to make fingerless gloves, scarves and hats with plenty of yarn left over – and available for purchase at the fair. But Claudette soon discovered that the alpaca were "skittish and not very friendly with people," she said. "You have to manhandle them to give them shots every month and they are so large that they throw you against the wall of the barn. We sold them back to the farm that we bought them from."
Then, daughter Nicole learned about the Nigora goat and wanted to introduce the breed to the local area. In the meantime, the three co-leaders of the Fiber Guild developed a range of fiber-related skills: Claudette Gosselin – felting, Lisa Krouse – spinning, and Susan Zellner – weaving. They got into their crafts when there were alpacas on the farm. "We had all this fiber and we needed to do something with it so we started to learn these various skills," Susan said.
Zellner will demonstrate weaving on two mid-century looms: a six treadle/four shaft loom, and a four treadle/direct tie-up. "I will be talking about the differences in the looms and demonstrate on both of them," she said. Gosselin will demonstrate felting, and Krouse will demonstrate spinning.
The main building of Lomah Farm was an 1880s-era Kreitz Square Deal Fruit Farm farmhouse. In the 1940s, a Philadelphia businessman purchased the 100-acre farm and built a major addition with a huge sunken living room. The farm was subdivided and is now six acres, with three acres of pasture for the goats.
The Fiber Guild meets on the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at Lomah Farm. For information, call: 570-386-3789, or email: sgzellner@gmail. com.
Directions to Lomah Farm:
From Rt. 443/Blakeslee Blvd, turn onto Seneca Road towards the Mahoning Drive-in Theater. Turn left onto PA-902/Mahoning Dr., Turn right onto Breezewood Rd. Follow to the large white house on the right, 330 Breezewood Dr.