The News Gazette - Business
  Wednesday, June 9, 1999 The News-Gazette - Business

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Wool, Wool, Wool: From The Hide To The Loom

By Sherri Tombarge

C. Elizabeth and Ron Jackson held a fiber arts open house in April at Saville Hill Farm and Studio where they raise registered Corriedale sheep and border collie dogs. Located in Rockbridge County south of Collierstown, the newly finished studio occupies the bottom level of a house the Jacksons built themselves on a 230-acre farm that had lain fallow for 30 years.

And there, at the top of a ridge with views for miles out every window, people may now gather to learn to spin and knit and to weave and dye. Textiles is what Elizabeth Jackson specializes in, and she pursues the process from its beginnings with the Corriedale lambs she nurtures to the finished projects for which she accepts commissions.

Saville Hill will cater to customer needs at any step along that path. The Corriedale sheep, which the Jacksons will sell for breeding stock, were carefully selected.Elizabeth and Ron with a corriedale ewe and twin lambs. "We could have bought a lot of yarn for what we have in these sheep," said Elizabeth Jackson. "But now I love them; I love them dearly."

Elizabeth researched 35 breeds before choosing the Corriedale. She was looking for a breed that produced fine wool but was also hornless. "They butt you," she said. "If you're out in the pasture with your ram, they can hurt you more if they have horns. To them it's love taps, ... but they can put you on the ground." Horns can also get caught in electric fences and cause the sheep to be electrocuted, she added.

The Corriedale is a dual-purpose breed, sold both for wool and meat. The Jacksons make use of both qualities, harvesting the wool annually and selling the meat of rams and culls direct.

Customers may buy the wool at any step in the process, commission a finished product or participate in the process. For example, Elizabeth may warp the loom for a scarf, for instance, and allow the customer to weave it off the loom. The studio also offers private lessons in spinning, weaving and dyeing and workshops in these areas and others. Workshops coming up are dyeing on July 10, beginning spinning Aug. 13-15 and beginning weaving Sept. 10-12.

Elizabeth said she also welcomes school groups and has small projects that can be completed during the visit and which will illustrate the processing of wool. Visiting children may have the opportunity to dye wool with Koolaid or learn to spin on a metal hook they can take with them.

Those interested in Saville Hill's offerings may visit the farm and studio booth at the Rockbridge Community Festival. Elizabeth Jackson will also be at the Rockbridge Regional Fair as part of the Rockbridge County Sheep and Wool Growers Association.

Residents may call the Jacksons at 463-5471 or visit the Web site at:

for information on lessons, workshops, merchandise or school visits.

Rockbridge Area Home Sales Up In April

Home sales in the Rockbridge area in April were up 6.67 percent from April 1998, with 16 sold this year and 15 last year, according to the Virginia Association of Realtors Virginia Home Sales Survey.

Homes sales year to date, however, were down 1.85 percent from last year, with 53 sold so far this year and 54 by this time last year.

Homes spent an average of 190 days on the market in April and sold for an average price of $136,818, up from $124,385 last year.

Three home sales were pending at the time of the survey.

Smith Named NationsBank Manager In BV

R. Lang Smith has been named manager of the NationsBank office in Buena Vista.

He is responsible for the daily operations of the bank, including consumer and business loans, managing the staff and ensuring quality customer service. Previously, Smith was a personal banker at NationsBank in Staunton. He joined the bank in 1997. .

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