Rabbits, Sheep, Alpacas, oh my! What to do with all that fur…

By Jillian Randel

Pure angora and shetland skeins. Photo by Leslie Shelor

Pure angora and shetland skeins. Photo by Leslie Shelor

Situated alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the mountain community of Meadows of Dan, Va., is a quaint building called Greenberry House. A fiber studio representing 26 artisan spinners, Greenberry House was started by local spinner Leslie Shelor.

Shelor bred and raised German angora rabbits, a specialty breed, and spent years traveling the East Coast delivering them to customers. The idea to open a fiber studio came when she found herself shearing about a pound of fur from each of her own 30 rabbits every 90 days. She needed an outlet for all of the fiber she was spinning.

As part of southwest Virginia’s local artisans group ‘Round the Mountain, Shelor is well connected with a community of fiber spinners.

“Fiber people are a great crowd,” said Shelor. “I enjoy working with the customers and the spinners, and I meet a lot of great people.”

The fiber at Greenberry House represents a variety of sheep, alpaca and rabbit breeds. All of the artisans who sell their fiber in the studio are female and most of them work their farms alone while their husbands work outside the home.

Many of the women spin the fiber by hand or else send it to local mills to be spun.

“All of the fiber at Greenberry House comes from within a hundred miles of here,” said Shelor. “Travelers love to have a local product from the places they visit, and this one represents a strong local tradition.”

Locally-produced fiber attracts a strong support network of customers. If you look closely enough, you are sure to happen upon a fiber studio in or near your own community.

For more information, visit greenberryhouse.com.

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