Who is Flying Goat Farm?
Flying Goat Farm is a small family farm in Central Maryland run by Lisa Check. The Farm raises both Angora goats for mohair and fine wool sheep. Flying Goat's sheep are Blue Faced Leicester and Cormo, as well as a cross between the two breeds. She first started raising animals for her personal enjoyment. By that time, she had been spinning, weaving and dyeing for 20 years. But, soon after Flying Goat Farm started, pounds and pounds of fleeces started to pile up. Lisa couldn’t spin all of the fiber herself, so she started working with US-based mills. That began Flying Goat's journey into yarn manufacturing. Once the spun yarn began arriving, Lisa used her dyeing skills to make the yarn fun, vibrant and beautiful.
Where do you create?
I have a studio on the Farm where all the dyeing takes place. I plan the yarn design for the mill and the colorways for the yarn, and I do all of the dyeing myself. The Farm works with different mills, but Lisa's favorite mill is within her fiber-shed - only about 45 miles from the Farm. She and the mill work together to craft a great knitting and wearing experience for the knitter or crocheter. Flying Goat Farm also works closely with its shearer, Emily. Emily helps the Farm find local animals with beautiful fiber to add to its menagerie. Emily also helps Lisa find fleeces from other local shepherds.
What inspires you?
I find inspiration all around the Farm. Fall has always been my favorite season because of the beauty of fall foliage colors. I work hard throughout the Winter to design new colors and dye yarn for the rest of the year. But Spring, with the bouncing lambs, new (goat) kids, and flowering trees and bulbs is perhaps the happiest season at Flying Goat Farm.
Can you walk us through one of your yarns from start to finish?
The first yarn carried by Row House is our Fingal2. These particular skeins come from our BFL sheep. In March 2016, Emily, the shearer, helped with shearing. On shearing day, I go through the fleeces to take out the dirtiest places in the fleece. In May, I sent these sorted fleeces to Zwool to be cleaned and combed into what is called a “top.” In this process, all the individual fibers are combed so that they are all running in the same direction. This process also takes out the bits of hay that the sheep get throughout their fleeces. Once the top is complete, I drove it to our local woolen mill in Pennsylvania. They spun the top into a 2 ply yarn with lots of luster and shine. Finally, I dye the skeins to the Row House specifications.