Local spinning mill owner helps Normans find fibrous pleasure | News

From farm to fleece to needle, a local store and fiber mill offer a variety of colorful yarns derived from alpacas and sheep.

Betsy Morehead’s mother taught her how to crochet and knit when she was young.

The plan to open a business grew when she was laid off from her job in the oil and gas industry in the fall of 2018. She was still licensed to practice law in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but going back to a law firm didn’t seem appealing.

Most of the women and some men in her family knew how to crochet and knit. In 2013 she started spinning yarn on a wheel and then learned about the fiber and animals that produce fleece and wool and how to process them.

“I wanted to work with sheep’s wool, alpaca fleece, and any other animal fiber I could get my hands on,” Morehead said.

After researching and investigating with her husband, Mike, they purchased used equipment from a Kentucky couple and opened Scissortail Yarn & Fiber Mill, 119 N. Crawford Ave. in 2019. They had a small retail space to sell the yarn she made.

When another local yarn store closed last fall, Morehead looked to fill a need in Norman’s knitting and crochet community. She ordered wholesale brands to sell alongside her homemade yarns.

The shop now sells yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners, Manos del Uruguay, Cascade and The Alpaca Yarn Company.

Scissortail Yarn & Fiber Mill sources its alpaca fiber from coast to coast, but much of it comes from the state. Morehead said alpacas are sheared annually and sheep are sheared twice a year. Morehead said that in the spring, many people in Oklahoma shear their alpacas.

“Farmers will bypass the part that they don’t want to process or want to separate from the best part of the fleece and then send it to me,” Morehead said. “We’ll wash it, remove the protective hairs, and run it through cleaning machines that remove the parts you don’t want in your yarn, and we’ll make yarn from the good part.”

The unwanted parts of the fleece are used to create dye balls and felt, which can be used for gardening. Morehead recently started selling felt weed seeds.

“I have basil, cilantro, and other seeds,” Morehead said. “I don’t need a full package for small squares, but it would be nice to have a small package for beginners [gardeners].”

Customers can buy Addi knitting machines, Addi knitting needles and crochet hooks at the store. They also sell their finished creations such as hats, scarves, mittens, coozies, felt soaps, felt gardens, rugs and bottle socks.

The store offers yarn in standard primary and secondary colors in unique blends and natural hues.

Morehead recently made a yarn with wool and cellulose, a plant fiber, for someone knitting a sweater. The purple and light brown result was similar to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“[My friend] I bought everything I had in stock to make the sweater, and needed more, so I had to contact the woman I was trading with to get her half of the same yarn so that ‘she can finish her sweater,” Morehead said. .

Morehead said the operation is currently on a small scale, but she hopes to move into a larger space soon to allow for classes, knitting parties and other makers to give workshops. Because sometimes people come to the store just looking for expertise, she says.

Morehead has used a trading system where the people who raise the alpaca send their fleece to him to make yarn for years. She returns half of the harvest to them and keeps the other half.

“It’s a great way to get free yarn,” Morehead said.

Until daytime classes begin, Morehead said she and the other two employees are always ready to help, whether it’s offering advice on how to complete a knitting or crochet project straight away, acquire the right supplies or find them a resource that can help them in the process, such as an instructional video on YouTube.

Staci Forshee has worked with Betsy for a year and says her passion for the craft is infectious. Differentiating between fibers and developing a working knowledge of machinery takes time, but Forshee loves the challenge.

“It can be very rewarding for people like me who are a bit [hyperfocused]and can take something chaotic like the [animal fiber]and then making it something so uniform and pretty, there’s a payoff to that,” Forshee said.