Tuesday, April 12, 2011


On Sunday, April 10th, a group of 17 RISG members and guests took a field trip to Block Island to visit North Light Fibers, the region’s newest fiber mill and Block Island’s only yarn and fiber shop. Everyone was quite impressed with the very high quality of processing being done at the mill. We were also delighted by the softness of the rare blends that the owners, Sven and Laura Risom are producing from the finest alpaca, merino, soy, camel and other special fibers at their mill. Their fiber bumps are a delight to spin and most of us were very excited to return home with North Light Fiber tucked into our bags and backpacks. We look forward to many happy hours of spinning, knitting and weaving with these special blends.
Sven, Laura, and their assistant Page are running the mill themselves and are also putting together the new yarn and fiber arts shop on the first floor. Since it’s the only yarn shop on the island, it’s bound to be a local success. However, based on our initial inspection of the as-yet-incomplete shop, we think it also has the potential for a much wider appeal, with not only a variety of lovely fiber bumps, but also a range of colored yarns, and many knit, crocheted, woven and felted items for those who don’t care to spin their own.
Between tours, we were made welcome across the street at the 1661 Inn by Rita Draper; the owner and operator of the Inn and the nearby Manisses Hotel. The 1661 made the perfect headquarters for our island touring. Rita turned her dining room over to us so we could have a place to eat lunch and sit and spin for a while. We found it a very comfortable space, enjoyed the refreshments Rita provided and soaked up the splendid view of the marsh, the shore, and Block Island Sound out the large front windows.
After lunch, Rita’s dad, Justin Abrams gave us a personal tour of his exotic animal farm. The Abrams farm is landlord to North Light Fibers, but is also famous on-island and off for the large collection of rare animals that the Abrams have acquired. We got to meet all the animals, were entertained by the kangaroos and tortoise, and thrilled to see the farm’s brand new baby lemur. For many of us, this was a first chance to see fiber animals such as yak and llama up close. It was great to actually touch them and scratch behind their ears. The bravest of us even had a chance to get a big wet kiss on the cheek from Nyla, one of two resident camels!
In the afternoon we returned to the 1661 Inn where we snacked on crackers and cheese and demonstrated spindle and wheel spinning for interested residents who were invited to drop by for that purpose. We shared our craft with several local fiber enthusiasts, entertained the reporter for the Block Island Times and helped local school teachers learn how to teach spinning to elementary and middle school students. All in all it was a very eventful day and more than one of us took the occasion for a late afternoon nap as we sailed home on the 5:30 Ferry. Thanks to Sven Risom and Iris Westcott for arranging this wonderful field trip and making sure that everyone had such a great time.