We are excited to finally share with Brown Sheep fans about our new project. Those who have visited our mill may have noticed the rural schoolhouse just across the highway from us. This schoolhouse, formerly known as Haig school, has a long history with the Brown family. In fact, the land for the school was originally donated by the first homesteading family to own the land where our mill is located. The current schoolhouse building was constructed in the 1930s. When many rural school districts were consolidated in the early 2000s, Haig school sat vacant for years – until now.
We unearthed the beautiful maple flooring that had been buried under carpet and re-finished it, along with fresh paint and a new roof. The school has four large classrooms, each with a ton of windows and wonderful natural light. The large classrooms are on the second floor and provide a lovely view of the surrounding bluffs and farmland.
We can’t wait to see this beautiful historic school return to being a center for learning and space for community surrounding fiber arts of all kinds: weaving, spinning, knitting, crochet, rug hooking, and more. We’ve already hosted some small classes and look forward to a full lineup of fiber arts classes for the fall crafting season. We will continue the precedent set by our Fiber Arts Fair for the past 9 years by bringing in local, regional, and nationally-recognized instructors to teach a wide variety of classes.
We envision several purposes for our new fiber arts schoolhouse. For one, we hope it will be an encouragement and inspiration to our local community. As many of you know who live in rural areas, we have seen so many small shops and businesses close their doors in the past few years. The schoolhouse will provide learning opportunities that otherwise would require traveling for hundreds of miles.
Secondly, we feel that our western Nebraska landscape is a wonderful place for travelers to find rest and relaxation. We are just a 3 hour drive from Denver and the Colorado Front Range—many visitors are surprised to find the natural beauty in our area. There is no traffic and we’re surrounded by wide open spaces, making for a calming and peaceful environment to escape from the chaos of everyday life. A multi-day class fiber arts class would be a renewing experience as well as an ideal place to focus and learn without distractions.
Probably the best aspect of being part of a family business is how “work” can bring you together with family—whereas for many, work is just the opposite. Peggy Jo Wells and myself (Brittany Wells) are collaborating to make this dream a reality. Honestly it’s hard to see this project as “work” when we get to have a personal studio space in the school for our own sewing machines, cutting tables, and looms.
A very special addition to the schoolhouse is a custom-made sign created by my (Brittany’s) grandfather. As the newcomer to this family (by marriage), it’s really special to see my side of the family involved with Brown Sheep. My grandpa is a master wood worker and every detail of the sign, from the design to the size, was meticulously customized to suit the schoolhouse and location. This sign is a daily reminder of the love, skill, and devotion that go into a handmade creation—and how much more valuable a handmade item is than something purchased.
A new website with a calendar of classes will be up soon – for now, follow along on our Facebook page: Brown Sheep Fiber Arts Schoolhouse. We want to connect with both students and teachers—send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on teaching at the schoolhouse.
We’re just getting starting on this new adventure, and we hope you’ll follow along and become part of the story.
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