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Featured Artist: Candy Hargett of Calluna Farm Studios

by The SpinArtiste on June 22, 2014

CF - Self + BillPublisher’s Notes: This week we are featuring Candy Hargett and Bill Kimsey of Calluna Farm Studios, unapologetic “Boomers” who are actively creating the type of life for which many of us yearn. So, in a sense, this post feels like a bit of a “how to” which I think you will enjoy!

Spin Artiste (SA): So, you say your fiber dreams have come true! Can you tell us how your dreams unfolded?

Bill Kimsey (Bill): Our dreams are unfolding in a variety of ways: 1) because of the fiber animals we are surrounded by – long necks & short necks, long legs, & long ears (alpacas & Navajo Churro Sheep, Horses & Burro); 2) quality of living in personal, relational farm rhythms – Candace, I and our fiber tribe are having the time of our life doing the work of managing the day to day operations of Calluna Glenn Farm; and 3) the creating of value and experiencing integrity in our skeins and fiber art.

CF - Bill with yarnCandy Hargett (Candy): I met my husband and it all unfolded.

SA: Tell us about your farm! How did you acquire it, and what can you tell us about its character?

Bill: The character of Calluna Glenn farm derives from deep seated standards concerning the integrity of personal identity, rather it is a person or a creature buddy.

Candy: Our farm is 10 acres of rolling pasture overlooking the Blue Ridge to the east of us. We enjoy drinking coffee and watching the sunrise over the Blue Ridge each morning.

CF - The Farm - calluna at the end of the rainbow

SA: If we stopped by Calluna Farm one afternoon, what animals would we find rooming the fields?

Bill: First would be the Guineas working the fields, next would be Rob Roy – our burro who is our early warning system, Ani & Harper- alpaca forward operating team, then Beulah Grace and Zeb aka Rocket, Yardley, Danny Boy, Elliot, Raider then comes the debonair Fe & the Aslan of Calluna –Willy. A whole host of wonderful roosters & hens, cats, yard guard dawgs and of course can’t forget the goldfish.

CF - Animals - hanging out with the gangCandy: It’s a real menagerie! Currently there are 8 Alpacas in a range of colors from white to black and all shades in between, 6 Navajo Churro sheep, 8 Guinea Hens (tick patrol), 14 assorted chickens including Javas, Australorps, Americanunas, Welsummers, & Jersey Reds(our eggs are a rainbow of browns, greens & blue), 5 cats, 2 dawgs, 2 BIG horses, & of course Sir Rob Roy our burro. On our wish list are Navajo Angora goats from the reservation in Arizona. They all graze together – the birds are free range. When you arrive you may get an escort up the drive by the fiber tribe then the hens will greet you and demand treats as you get out of the car. Life is never dull…

SA: You mentioned that you are “actively involved in farm to table and fiber production.” What does that look like for Calluna Farm, and how would you say it has been beneficial for your business and community?

CF - The Farm - spring gardenBill: An important life skill is to read what ingredients are in our food today. It is clear that a hamburger today is not the same hamburger that my dad or grandfather enjoyed. The vegetables today are not the vegetables of early Americans and the people. So we read and research what we can grow and purchase what is good for our bodies & our critters bodies. We would rather pay for quality food than pay for higher co-pay for poor health. We have made it a fun activity putting to right things ion our bodies.

CF - Animals - apacheCandy: I’m a foodie from way back… We grow several gardens including a “Three Sisters” garden, vegetables, herbs, fruit, dye plants & flowers. We also support local organic farmers – grass fed beef, lamb, forest finished pork, pastured turkey. We don’t eat any of our own animals – they all have names and are part of the family.

SA: I know you are also working towards making the farm 100% organic. What inspired you to set this goal, and how far along are you in the process?

Bill Health and smart living.

CF - Animals - Beulah Grace & Baby Zeb (2)Candy: Health for us and our animals. We are getting there. We use organic practices in the gardens and pasture management. Our tribe of animals are fed organic feeds except for the alpacas – we’re working on a source for them but it’s hard to find as most commercial mills are using GMO corn and soy in their feeds.  A local organic feed store produces feed varieties for all but the alpacas. Yes they all have specific feeds and, yes, feed time can be quite interesting. We recently seeded our pasture with “herbal lay” that includes many beneficial herbs,
grasses and lespedeza for all the animals.

SA: Talk about what it is like working together, and how does your partnership better your end results (yarns)?

CF - The Farm - shearingBill: After recognizing how delightful it is to be working together I am particularly fortunate to have a partner who is intelligent, articulate and full of fun. Candace has many gifts and in particular she has a beautiful mind for understanding engineering, design and how things work. For me, as a guy, I get into a farm related problem and can find a really beautiful solution through talk and analysis and of course Youtube and joint venturing with my wife.

Candy: HA! Bill is my amazing husband! My soul mate! It’s a total team effort. We even do our own shearing…We are fortunate to be able to live and work on our farm full time. Responsibility lines merge and overflow as daily rhythm unfolds with Bill being the primary shepherd and me being the Fiber artist.

SA: With such a variety of fiber animals to choose from, which one do you prefer spinning, weaving, and knitting with?

Candy: Our tribe has been chosen to offer a variety of fiber characteristics – each one is special. The double coat of the Churro is amazing – Corespun with the locks for texture or more traditional woolen – long draw; Alpaca – soft, lofty, yummy anyway you spin it; Mohair – by itself or added to everything…I can’t really pick a favorite. It’s like asking which one of your children is your favorite.

SA: Your weaving work is so beautiful! I love the way you incorporate a range of vibrant colors while maintaining cohesiveness. What can you tell us about your creative process when you sit down at the loom?

CF - The Farm - flower inspirationCandy: First of all it starts with freedom: Freedom without the threat of being ambushed by criticism. Creating comes from the heart. And if it not from the heart, it will not resonate. The creativity begins long before sitting at the loom… color and texture inspire and motivate me. The recent series I completed for a show at The Village Gallery in Oriental, NC was inspired by my many years in this wonderful river front
village – sunrises, sunsets, sailing, walks thru the many gardens… By the time I’m at the loom it’s all flowing and bubbling.

CF - studio 1Currently I’m designing a woven alpaca wearable for Bill… He has requested it be made from fleece from 2 of our alpacas – I’m spinning it in several different styles to give it texture. I’m also sketching and making small paper mock up of construction ideas. When I sit at the loom there will be basic ideas that will then allow the creative to flow.

SA: With such a lively farm, I’m sure your studio space is just as spirited. Can you tell us about your studio?

CF - Self - SpinningBill: Well – we have a lot of floor space and fiber is everywhere. Wintertime our he/she cave around the wood stove, music, walk out into gardens…

Candy: You mean our whole house – there’s fiber in just about every room. Recently guests arrived for few days and I had to take the drying racks of fleece out of the shower so they could shower. The lower level is primary studio with the 2 looms, yarn and fiber storage and display, tables for workspace for fiber prep, big sofa, separate dye studio, music plus our he/she cave. The walkout to the back yard and more fiber prep space including picnic tables, sorting tables etc.This year we may add an outdoor dye station.

Our main level living room is the primary spinning room. There are always at least two spinning wheels and lots of fiber everywhere. It’s a wonderful bright room with windows on three sides overlooking our fields, flower gardens & the Blue Ridge Mountains.

SA: What wheel are you spinning on these days?

Candy: Wheels – not wheel… Currently have four working wheels. The three “production” daily use wheels are Louet s-10 with Woolee Winder – named Ferne after one of my mentors, Ashford Country Spinner – Matilda, & a Thomas Ricci Indian Valley Spinner – Isabell. These are my go to wheels. However, after more than a year of sciatica pain I’ve made the move to a Spinolution FireFly – espinner named Miss Lee. I’m totally hooked & pain free. It’s quiet, portable; totally adjustable and has 8oz & 32oz bobbins. As a matter of fact I’m so impressed with the quality of engineering that I just became a dealer for Spinolution.CF - EQ - Miss Lee and living room studio

CF - EQ - On Miss Lee

CF - EQ - spinning Miss Berry navajo churro ewe

CF - FO - weaving detailSA:  Thanks so much to you both!  I’m hoping to get down for a visit one day!!  Readers, Candy has a fun giveaway for you — She’s going to giveaway a beautiful skein of her hand spun.  To enter, just leave a comment here letting us know that you either like or have liked her FB page.  Entries are due by next Sunday, June 29th, 5 PM EST.  Best of luck to all!

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