Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Farm Visit: Applegarth Studio and Yarn

I let the coffee warm me up as I sat in a rocking chair at The Bakery and watched the village of Flesherton go by on a cold, wet weekend in October. Glancing down at the windowsill there were a jumble of magazines, flyers and brochures.  Three alpacas named Daisy, Ember and Evita stared up at me under the title Applegarth Studio and Yarn: A Destination of its Own.
Tucked along Sideroad 4A just outside of Markdale, amongst rolling forests, streams and solar panels, is Kaitlyn Brodie's Applegarth Studio and Yarn.  At 22, Kaitlyn is building her alpaca herd, producing her own fibers and developing one of Grey County's must-see fiber destinations.    

I was not this awesome when I was 22.

Kaitlyn's fiber adventures started 2 years ago when she picked up the needles for the first time. Knitting quickly moved on to spinning and then to dying and felting. Finishing up her degree in forestry, Kaitlyn began to dream of the fiber arts as a way of life. Demonstrating incredible hutzpah, Kaitlyn set about creating Applegarth Studio and Yarn at her family's off-the-grid Toad Hall Farm on Sideroad 4A. Today Applegarth is home to a small herd of Yucaya alpacas, known for their versatile, light weight and warm fibers. 

Evita, Tansy and Daisy came home to Applegarth in the fall of 2012.  June saw Applegarth's first on-farm birth. Little Samara was born premature and was given little hope of survival. Undaunted, Kaitlyn tucked the tiny cria into her own bed for that first night to keep her warm. It took Kaitlyn more three days of sleeping in the barn to make sure baby Samara and mama Daisy bonded.
Kaitlin and Samara

Those three long days ultimately united Kaitlyn with the little herd. Alpaca's are known for being timid and somewhat uninterested in humyns. But Kaitlyn's herd is different.  Standing in the paddock with her it's clear that these alpaca's are excited to see her, skipping in and around for kisses and rubs. Today, Samara is strong and healthy and has been joined by Ember, the latest addition to the herd. Obviously Kaitlyn's dedication to Samara's survival not only strengthened the bonds between baby and mama, but between humyn and herd.

Buttons by Dano Harris.
Inside the Applegarth Studio Kaitlyn proudly displays her yarns. The combinations of colours and textures in alpaca and alpaca/wool blends are sumptuous and I can't help but touch. Kaitlyn explains her conscious investment in the local fiber economy and her decision to have her fibers milled at Wellington Fibers in Elora, Ontario. She also carries popular Canadian yarns by Fleece Artist and Handmaiden, as well as the works of other local artisans including art yarns by The Married Spinsters and handmade knitting needles and buttons by Dano Harris.  

Inside Applegarth Studio.
Thursdays are Applegarth's Fiber Social Day, when Kaitlyn welcomes fiber enthusiasts to the farm, encouraging participants to bring their current project and share their craft with other artisans. Snugged up in the Studio with its wood stove and beautiful view I certainly look forward to attending my first Social Day this winter.

Applegarth is a beautiful fiber destination that is undoubtedly worth the drive down the narrow dirt road of Sideroad 4A. For me, however, Applegarth's biggest attraction is the connection between Kaitlin and her alpacas. In the same way that local, sustainable ingredients make for delicious meals, I believe that local, well cared for animals create beautiful fibers. The Applegarth fibers I've brought back to the city are the product of animals that are clearly loved and respected. It feels right to create my original hand knits from a high quality yarn that reflects my respect for sustainable farming practices and my investment in local economies.  

Applegarth yarns can be purchased at:

Peace Flag House Fiber Arts
568 Jane Street,
Toronto, ON
By Appointment

Applegarth Studio and Yarn
Wednesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm,
or By Appointment.
545413 Sideroad 4A, Box 23
Markdale, ON
N0C 1H0


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