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March 11, 2021

Training Comes to an End

We're on our own

By: Peggy Allen

Peggy & Amanda at the spinner

I’m sitting on my farmers' market folding stool, pulled up to our stainless steel working table, typing on my laptop with sun pouring through the storefront windows of our new mill. What counts as morning rush hour traffic is to my left and to my right is all the mill’s equipment standing by waiting for Amanda and me to give it all a whorl on our own for the first time.

Yesterday Michael Hampton, our mentor, drove down from Richmond to ensure we really knew how to turn on, use and work with all the equipment. For over six hours we picked, carded, pin drafted and spun wool under his watchful eye. While we worked the machines we peppered Michael with questions and advice and, with his dry humor in place, he offered up a mountain of wisdom, caution, and encouragement.

In addition to roving and yarn, we created our first ever batt, a rectangle of soft, puffy wool. Throughout the day, Amanda and I would catch each other’s eyes and even with masks in place, we both knew the other was grinning wide.

With our last training day behind us, the wheels come off, and we'll see if we can ride this bike on our own.

There will come a day when we no longer talk about the first time this, the first time that, but for now, each day does feel new, exciting and, frankly, still a little surreal.

— Peggy