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Fleecing is a shear delight in Riverhead

Donna Lee Truck uses a traditional spinning wheel

Donna Lee Truck uses a traditional spinning wheel to create a scarf. The wool was supplied by her alpaca, Fritzroy. (May 9, 2011) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Pulling a sweater off the shelf and slipping it on, you've probably never wondered where the wool or other fiber used to make it came from.

Shearers, weavers, spinners and other craftspeople are hoping to change that, hosting a full day of activities at the Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead that will demonstrate how raw fiber is worked into clothing.

"You can see and learn the crafts straight from the artisans," says Herb Stroebel, the museum's executive director. Hands-on demos will give visitors a feel for just what's involved in fiber arts that range from spinning to dyeing to knitting. Here's a snapshot of what's in store:


The farm's resident chickens and cows will play host to sheep, alpacas, llamas, goats and bunnies awaiting their turn to be sheared.

Tabitha Haubold, co-owner of the Long Island Livestock Company in Yaphank, is one of the shearers who will be removing the thick winter growth on sheep, llamas and alpacas that would make the animals uncomfortably hot in the summer. For the uninitiated spectator, the exercise can seem taxing.

"I always tell people in advance that it will look like I'm handling the animal roughly as I turn it and pull it, but I'm not hurting the animal," says Haubold, who travels from Maine to Virginia each spring to shear more than 1,000 llamas, alpacas and sheep. "I think of all the twisting and turning of the animal as sheep yoga."

It takes Haubold a mere 10 minutes to shear one sheep.


Children and adults can learn how to dye wool and other animal hair using natural (and unlikely) items such as marigolds, beets, plants and berries as the colorant.

"People are surprised what plants produce which colors," says Donna Trunk, 54, of Shoreham, who is bringing her alpacas to be sheared on-site.

Sessions also will cover what plants and flowers make which colors, how long to leave an item in the dye and how to process it to set the color.


Trunk, who teaches Colonial-era crafts, will be among the artisans sitting at wooden spinning wheels, where raw wool is fed to (eventually) be twisted into skeins of yarn. Children will be able to help with the carding of the wool -- detangling and combing the raw fiber -- which is a job youngsters historically had on the farm.

Visitors will be able to try a floor spinning wheel as well as the small handheld drop spindle.

Needle felting

Felting is a process that fuses wool fiber into a compressed fabric-like material that can be used to make sweaters, stuffed animals and decorative objects.

"You're meshing all these individual strands of wool fiber together to make something," says Irene Heckel-Volpe, of Bohemia, who will be demonstrating the craft throughout the day.

Like many of the day's exhibitors, Heckel-Volpe will be selling handmade pieces and fiber art supplies, should anyone who visits get the itch to make something creative on their own at home.

Long Island Fleece and Fiber Fair

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday (rain date Sunday), Hallockville Museum Farm, 6038 Sound Ave., Riverhead

INFO 631-298-5292,

ADMISSION $5 (free younger than 12)


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