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Fiber Destinations in the Willamette Valley

By Lynne Brown

Looking for the perfect road trip with fiber and fun in the Willamette Valley?  Look no further!  We've gathered together a collection of fiber destinations for the perfect handspinning vacation.

Willamette Heritage Center 

Begin your fiber adventure in Salem, at the Willamette Heritage Center. Here you can visit the historic Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, along with other historic Oregon structures. The Thomas Kay Woolen Mill was once the leading textile factory in Oregon, a legacy that is now carried on by Pendleton Woolen Mills in eastern Oregon.

After a stop in the visitor's center building you'll begin your visit in the Mill building which now houses art galleries (quilt and other fiber shows!), meeting rooms, and exhibits that include original mill equipment, preserved and on display.

Don't miss the 14 additional historic buildings on-site, moved from other locations the Heritage Center to preserve and to interpret Willamette Valley history.  

Each May the Heritage Center hosts its annual Sheep to Shawl Festival, a family-friendly opportunity to see wool taken from sheep shearing to shawl creation. Visitors can see how yarn is spun, woven, and knitted. Blacksmith demonstrations are also a part of the festival.

Wrap up your visit at the Willamette Heritage Center with a stop in the Warehouse Building, which housed wool and a drive-in loading dock during the mill's years of operation. Today it is home to the Visitor's Center, art galleries, and retail shops full of luscious fibery goodness. Be sure to stop in at Teaslwick Wools and explore their wonderful collection of yarns and fiber.

Before you leave Salem, head over to Wild Pear (372 State Street, Salem) for locally-sourced, organic food, prepared from scratch daily. 

Wings and a Prayer Alpaca Farm

After lunch, head west on Rt 22, then north on 99W through the small town of Amity for a visit to the Wings and a Prayer alpaca farm. Hosts Barbara and Randy Coleman, who raise a herd of suri alpacas in all 22 natural colors, love having visitors to their farm. Call ahead for an appointment to assure they'll be there. Meet the alpacas, and spend some time in the on-site fiber store stocked with alpaca fiber and finished products, all made of alpaca fiber.

After immersing yourself in all things alpaca, head south on 99w to Rt 20 in Corvallis.  Take Rt 20 west to Rt 223, just east of Philomath.  

Blakesley Creek Farm

Head north on Rt 223 to Wren, for a visit and overnight at the Blakesley Creek Farm. Proprietor Lois Olund has renovated and updated three shepherd's wagons with a comfy queen bed and a heater for your overnight stay on the farm. 

Trip tip: Be sure to make your reservations ahead and ask about available classes.

Nearby, the farm's barn has been remodeled to include a kitchen and dining room, an upstairs classroom, full of spinning wheels and looms, and a full bathroom. Visitors are invited to make themselves at home in the renovated barn and in the adjacent classroom building.  

Lois has downsized her herd of sheep from 200 to about 30, but there is still plenty to see and learn on this working fiber farm. You may see dying in progress,  find finished felting projects from previous workshops, or, if you're lucky, spot an adorable litter of livestock guardian dog puppies busy learning the ropes from their hardworking parents.  

Stop for breakfast in downtown Philomath on your way back east on Rt 34. Take Rt 34 east through Corvallis to Albany and then head south on Rt 99E for Ewethful Fiber in Halsey.  

Ewethful Fiber 

Ewethful Fiber is a working micro-mill, located on N 2nd Street in downtown Halsey.  The spacious storefront contains comfy chairs, a table for classes, and lots of room for fibery gatherings. On days when scheduled group events are held, mill owner Kim Biegler offers inventory from the store for sale.  

Visit during open hours Thursday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m or by appointment. With an appointment, Kim will give you an amazing tour of the equipment she uses to take raw fleece through washing, picking, carding, drafting, spinning and plying. Fun fact: Ewethful Fiber has machines that can do the spinning and plying - resulting in yarn ready for knitting or weaving.

From Halsey, head east on Rt 228 to Brownsville and enjoy lunch at Randy's Main Street Coffee, where there is a huge selection of sandwiches and daily soup options.  After lunch, walk down Main Street to the Brownsville Stitching Parlor.   

Brownsville Stitching Parlor

Located in the historic CJ Howe building, the Brownsville Stitching Parlor offers yarn, needles, pattern books and more. Be inspired or scoop up some luscious yarn for your next knitting or crochet project. The shop is filled floor to ceiling with yarns of all types.Next head south on I5 to the Rt 105 exit and follow signs for Rt 99N for a visit to the Eugene Textile Center. 

Eugene Textile Center

Recently relocated to a much larger building, the Eugene Textile Center specializes in looms and weaving where spinners can find spinning equipment and yarn of all kinds ready for the next project.  Classes in felting, knitting, and spinning are also offered at the Eugene Textile Center. 

From Eugene, head off to Alsea for an overnight farm stay at Leaping Lamb Farm.  Take Rt 99W north to Greenberry Road.  Wind your way to Rt 34 and head west to the small town of Alsea.  

Leaping Lamb Farm

Leaping Lamb Farm raises lamb (for sale frozen or by subscription). During your stay you will learn the rope of the working farm and can participate in feedings or any of the farm chores that interest you. Or simply just enjoy the gentle Honey Grove Creek, numerous trails for hiking, and the delicious farm-fresh food. 

Be sure to book ahead, so that hosts Scottie and Greg Jones know you are coming.  Choose to stay in either the farm cottage or the historic farmhouse (built in 1895 and boasting 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and an expansive back deck.  

Black Sheep Gathering

If you plan your handspinning vacation visits for a weekend in late June, you can head back north to the Linn County Expo Center in Albany for a day at the Black Sheep Gathering - a nationally renowned fiber arts festival June 26-28th. 

Register ahead of time for a class or two or simply wander the aisles of the exhibit halls where you'll find vendors selling equipment, fiber, yarn, and fiber arts tools and supplies. Take in the sheep shearing demonstrations, fleece judging, and check out the entries in the needle arts competition. 

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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