Philosopher’s Wool Love

It’s been such a long, long time!  There’s a lot I could do in the way of explaining but suffice it to say that yielding 4 entire days (and then some) to income earning has been a major shift.  Returning to this place where I can’t just dig off & do my own thing has been rough, I’m not gonna lie.  Basically, it has taken me this long to make peace with change and get a grip on having life’s work go into a hobby zone.  The start-to-finish time-line on projects is achingly slow but on the bright side, I can self-support this burgeoning fibre habit of mine!

As I told myself the whole way through – if I take pictures along the way, I can always catch up with you guys later…

One of the wondrous breaks over this Woe Is Me period was our trip to Philosopher’s Wool in Inverhuron, Ontario on Labor Day weekend.  It was an all-out blustery day but even so the 4-hour drive was spectacular.  Working farm after working farm nearing harvest.  Some had For Sale signs.  Others had Puppies for Sale signs.  DH was very good about entertaining my glee while not stopping.

We arrived around noon.  It was spitting rain.  The farm store could have been one of two buildings.  To our right is this building:

Quite clearly proclaiming itself the Philosopher’s Wool Company but also quite clearly closed-up.  And building no. 2 was the farmhouse behind us with this lovely walk-up:

The small sign to the bottom right reads the Philosopher’s Stone.

DH, not given to what he terms “aimless wandering,” insisted on calling from the car.  Directions were to turn around and walk in (groan)…  Two seconds later we arrive, and Ann Bourgeois greeted us like old friends.  She was tickled pink that someone had actually called from her parking lot… almost everyone gets it wrong but this calling in was a first!  She just thought DH & his initiative were the best.  He responded well to this treatment.

As you enter:

Now, I was pumped from the get-go.  Earlier this year, my knitting friend, Fen, gave me her copy of Ann & Eugene’s book, Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified.  Fen knew I that would love the story of how they built their farm, and wool yarn business from scratch right here in Ontario.  With Dorset sheep, no less.  In his Introduction, Eugene explains that selling his wool into the co-op system yielded $0.32 per lb.  In 1984 they sent the raw fleece to a mill for processing & sold the yarn for $2.35 per lb.  They became the co-op alternative for farmers, and eked out a niche in the yarn market by self-marketing & Ann’s fair isle sweater kits.

Over the course of the afternoon, and their generous sharing of lunch with us, we learned that they have exciting plans for the business and are as passionate as ever about what they do.  Debbie New was down for the weekend with her family, and Ann invited her to come and share with us.  Just wonderful fellowship.  DH was just as taken with our visit, and couldn’t get over their hospitality.  Here’s the yarn room & then some pics we took while (aimlessly) wandering around the farm itself:

DH scored one of those mugs.  I scored some roving, 3 wood buttons, a sheep mug & this worsted-weight yarn:

As you can guess, the postcard is of Ann & Eugene a few years aback.

He fled into the barn on my approach.

I swear DH loved the chickens!

Aside from hearing about the business we also talked with them about what it’s like having Bruce Power as a neighbour – very interesting stuff!  By the time we were done touring, talking and buying, I was ready to resign on Tuesday and follow Eugene’s lead into this farming life.  They were so warm, engaging and generous.

The weather was still on the nasty side but we did go down to Lake Huron for a gander.  The cottages:

I agreed with Ann about not wanting to be that close to her neighbours!  There was a fair amount of people swimming in the lake.  Windy, cold & choppy… mystified us!

How it looked as we walked down to the lake:


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Lara is a spinner, knitter, natural dyer, parent abandoning a certain fear of weaving. Jamaican-Canadian; she/her in the Greater Toronto Area; we have a Jellicle cat, Melvin & a Double Doodle, Spark. A spindle is usually close to hand!

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