Theresa Stenersen, Franklin, NC, Member since 2022
Spelling Tuesday Farm, with a breeding flock of Icelandic sheep.
Theresa is one of those people that can have a full time job as an Child Care Health Consultant with a nursing background, be a fiber farmer with 18 Icelandic sheep in Franklin, and take classes and expand her fiber art repertoire in spinning and weaving.
Although her father’s mother and sisters were avid knitters (and crocheters, quilters, even doing some tatting!), Theresa didn’t really learn to knit until later in life. However, the family was quite close and her grandmother who lived until 101 years old was attended by her knitting daughters at home every day. Down time was spent gathering round and knitting, remembers a young Theresa.
Her first zap of inspiration into the fiber world was actually what Theresa calls “reversed engineered”. In the late 1990’s, she attended a sheepdog competition. This inspired her. But, to have a sheepdog, one first must have animals to herd. Once you have the sheep, you have a lot of fleeces, and so on. (More later on the number of fleeces in various stages of processing that have been collected into her basement).
Somewhere along the line, Theresa met her husband who is Norwegian and a software engineer. She moved to Norway and lived there from 1999-2011. During this period, she knitted quite a few items to keep herself warm in that cold climate.
As a means of sharing her life with her parents back in the states, and with the help of her husband, Theresa began her own knitting blog and website. If you recall, during that era, the idea of blogging was just getting going and few blog sites were out there to enjoy. Soon a “web ring” developed of knitters with about 30 websites. This was essentially a group of folks that became friends over the internet and around knitting. Amy Singer, the instigator of knitty.com saw Theresa’s blogs and invited her to contribute technique articles, “Techniques with Theresa”. Cool huh?
Theresa has also contributed a pattern to Debbie Stohler’s “Stitch ‘n Bitch” and went on to start Norway’s version of Stitch ‘n Bitch (in Norwegian which she learned being plunged directly into the culture). She and a friend are currently hosting a Stitch ‘n Bitch in Franklin at the Rathskeller Coffee House and Pub on the first Sunday of every month.
Currently, Theresa and her husband live in her grandparent’s old house in Franklin. This was where she became a fiber farmer following up on her interest in sheep dogs. In Iceland, these sheep provide fiber, meat, and sheep’s milk. Did you know that there are four types of cheese that are traditionally made from sheep’s milk: Feta, Roquefort, Manchego, and Pecorino? More commonly in the United States, only fiber and meat are used from the sheep and that is what Theresa and her husband Sid provide. However, as I mentioned early on, much of the fiber from Theresa’s flock of Icelandic sheep have ended up in her basement.
Recently, Theresa attended the first of the Fiber Farmer Listening Sessions at Local Cloth. There she met Jonathon and Ben Hearn, a sheep shearing father/son team. (Their partner, Charlotte Crittenden, has been shearing for Spelling Tuesday farm for a few years now.) She also networked with other farmers and artists. Theresa is hoping to move the fiber from her basement into projects and sales with the help of Local Cloth and its members.
Learning to spin and weave is taking up more of Theresa’s time at present so that she can begin to effectively use her own fiber. Icelandic sheep are interesting in that their fiber consists of an under layer of short, soft fiber (thel) and a top layer of longer, coarser fiber (tog). These fibers can be separated, for example, using a comb or spun together into Lopi, which the Icelandic word for unspun or lightly spun yarn. Alone, the tog is quite useful for projects requiring greater strength such as in rugs, or as a weaving warp. Theresa has recently joined the Nonah Weavers in Macon County. They have a large space and multiple looms available for use, and many experienced weavers who can provide mentoring.
Follow along on new adventures – and baby lambs! - on Spelling Tuesday Farm’s Instagram account.
Interview by Susette Shiver