Hopland Research and Extension Center
University of California
Hopland Research and Extension Center

Barn to Yarn 2019

Date: May 4, 2019

Time: 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Contact: Hannah Bird, 707-744-1424 x 105

Sponsor: Hopland Research and Extension Center

Location: Rod Shippey Hall

Event Details


Have you ever wondered where your wool sweater came from? Or just how to keep a 160lb sheep still enough to shear it? Join the Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) team and friends on Saturday, May 4th from 9am-3pm to get the answers to these and many more questions.

Expert shearer Matt Gilbert will be offering demonstrations with a few of HREC’s flock of over 800 western whiteface sheep working as his models! Visitors will also have the chance to see different kinds of wool from the fine, soft merino to the long, coarse Navajo-churros and to learn how they are graded. Matthew Topsfield will be traveling all the way from South Uist in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland to share traditional knitting patterns and Susan Taylor Proctor will team up with Debby Bradford to share Navajo spinning and weaving techniques.

Throughout the day children will be encouraged to try their hand at felting, spinning and dyeing wool! A spinning circle will be accompanied by storytelling, a place to relax and learn with a picnic.

The day will provide opportunities for sheep farmers, fiber enthusiasts and families to get involved and learn more about every step of the process from sheep to sweater! Visitors will be welcomed to The Rod Shippey Building, and will have chance to picnic around the hall. “We can’t wait to welcome the community to our beautiful site and to raise awareness of just one of the areas of research and education that we conduct up here. Our sheep are not only vital for the UC Cooperative Extension sheep shearing school but also for research into best management practices for rangelands and animal science,” commented Hannah Bird, HREC community educator.

 HREC asks visitors to leave their pets at home to protect the site and the sheep resident there. Bring your own picnic and all utensils; some light food will be available. Barn to Yarn will be held at the Rod Shippey Hall, 4070 University Road, Hopland, CA 95449 from 9am-3pm on May 4th. For more information contact Hannah Bird, (707) 744-1424, Ext. 105, hbird@ucanr.edu.

Admission is $15 for adults, children 16 and under FREE


 Speaker Biographies

Matthew Topsfield

Matthew Topsfield crop
Matthew has spent most of his life crafting in various media, but knitting has been a constant passion since learning from his grandmother at a very young age. As a craft maker he especially enjoys hand knitting with pure new wool yarn from small Scottish producers and finds great interest and pleasure in working with colour and texture. Having trained as an environmental scientist, his influences include nature, landscapes and wild places, as well as established traditions in knitting patterns and techniques. He lives on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland where he currently works in community development, as well as producing his own patterns, delivering tuition/workshops and occasionally sells his work.

THE ERISKAY JERSEY - a demonstration of traditional patterns from the Outer Hebrides, Scotland

The fisherman’s gansey (also referred to as a ‘guernsey’, ’gansy’, ‘ganzie’ or ‘jersey’), a warm, weather-proof working garment, was traditionally made throughout the British Isles, from the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey (from where the name is derived), throughout the North Sea fishing ports on the east coast of England and Scotland, to the Shetland Isles in the far north. However, it is on the small island of Eriskay in the windswept Outer Hebrides that this art reached its peak. The seamless sweaters knit by the womenfolk of Eriskay are richly patterned in traditional and symbolic designs. See the beautiful designs, understand their construction, ask questions and take away patterns to use in your own knitting projects.


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