Tour Location: Edgewood, New Mexico (20 minutes east of Albuquerque)
Potential Wallet Hit: Low to Medium
By Margaret Briggs
Designer, kNotes for knitters
I feel so lucky to live on the “green side” of the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico, about 20 minutes east – and 2,000 feet UP – from New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque. Our rolling hills and steep mountain slopes are thickly carpeted with fragrant piñon and juniper, we average 362 days of sunshine a year, and thanks to our cool, clean air, we have little need of air conditioning. And even though my rural community of Edgewood numbers fewer than 2,000 residents, you’d be amazed at how many of us are fiber-centric souls!
I’d start any fiber tour of my home town with a stop at our cozy LYS, Good Fibrations. Owner Bethe Orrell fondly describes her shop as “a living room for knitters and weavers”, and stocks a great selection of local fiber and yarns, patterns and tools. I learned to knit by attending her easy-going Saturday morning classes; her ever-expanding curriculum includes beginner to advanced instruction in knitting, felting, weaving and more “crafty” pursuits. Best of all, Good Fibrations is open seven days a week!
While you’re in the neighborhood, call ahead to schedule a tour of Robin Pascal’s Fiber Arts and Perfect Button studio. Here you’ll find Robin’s rainbow of hand-painted roving and yarns, offered individually or assembled into project kits, hand-stitched art clothing, and the glorious dichroic glass buttons that Robin fuses in her own kiln.
In keeping with the rural character of our ranching and farming community, you’ll find a number of friendly “fiber farmers” that welcome visitors. Explore a dozen different farms during our annual East Mountain Fiber Farm Tour, held the first or second week of June, or visit two of my personal favorites anytime by appointment:
Bob and Sharry Bone raise Corriedale, Lincoln and Shetland sheep, and angora goats at their Westfarthing Farm --“Home of Happy Sheep!”-- and walk away with many of the top fleece prizes at our annual New Mexico State Fair. Their secret? Their lucky sheep are covered from 4 weeks of age on, for unbelievably soft, clean fleeces. You may purchase any of their fleeces, roving or finished yarns you covet, made right there at Westfarthing.
Next stop: Shooting Star Farm, a pocket-sized fiber farm owned by Connie and Fred Dyba. The Dybas raise Navajo churro sheep, angora goats, alpacas and llamas, kept safe by their equally-wooly Great Pyrenees dogs. Call ahead to schedule a fascinating farm tour, available Wednesdays through Sundays. If you’re traveling with children, they’ll love Itty Bitty, the miniature donkey, and the informative, kid-friendly materials Connie hands out; you’ll love the selection of fleeces, roving and yarns to choose from, plus fragrant, homegrown lavender products.
Last but not least, don’t miss the nearby Tijeras Open-Air Arts Market, open every weekend from May to October. This is a juried arts and crafts fair nestled into a woodsy outdoor site in nearby Tijeras Canyon. Browse hand-woven shawls, knitted scarves and caps (not to mention barbed wire jewelry, ancient fossils and glossy strands of turquoise beads), crafted by local Sandia Mountain artists, all the while enjoying the sunshine, cool mountain air, live music and gourmet coffees.
More New Mexico Fiber Arts Destinations
And should you wish to explore New Mexico’s fiber world farther afield than Edgewood, I highly recommend The New Mexico Fiber Arts Trail: A Guide to Rural Fiber Arts Destinations compiled and published by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. You can download a free copy of this state-wide guidebook instantly at their website, New Mexico Fiber Arts.
Note: As a courtesy to the working artists and farmers on my list, please remember to call ahead to schedule your visit. For all contact information and addresses, please see the google map.