There are a few fiber folk that I’ve known since the beginning of this blog-thing, and Kami Noyes is one of the few to have this distinction. She runs Ranching Tradition Fiber and she was one of the first shepherds to agree to an interview many years ago. I am so pleased to have her back on the blog (and her yarn on the next podcast!). Kami is from the great state of Montana—where I love to go backpacking—and I’ve warned her that one of these summers I’m going to stop over to see her, the sheep, and the Copper K Fiber Festival . . . For now, we keep up a fine correspondence on Facebook, messenger, and email and I’m always excited to hear about her latest plans, newest fibers, and now, her own indie dyed yarn. In fact, she sent some her gorgeous Tobacco Root Valley yarn down to Illinois for me to test out—and GIVEAWAY!! Stay tuned for that in the next podcast! I’m working on a sweet little fade sweater in all of her pretty blues right now and hope to be able to share it soon! So, without further ado, I present a little interview with Kami about sheep, yarn, and everything in between!
KTS: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what what’s it like to be a rancher in Montana?
Kami: I’m a fifth generation rancher who raises Targhee Rambouillet Sheep in the shadows of the Tobacco Root Mountains in Southwest Montana. I’m a self taught fiber artist, spinner, dyer, and knitter. This is my 16th year of selling fiber online. Ranching in Montana is a way of life, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything different. It does have its challenges: long hours and cold winters can be stressful.
KTS: Can you tell us a little bit about your flock of Targhee-Rambouillet sheep?
Kami: Every generation of my family had sheep here at the ranch. When I was young my dad had sheep, then with changes that had to happen, we had to sell the sheep. When my kids were young, my dad encouraged me to buy some bottle lambs from a local rancher. I always enjoyed sheep and each year continued buying bottle lambs and growing my herd.
KTS: What do you love about the breed? Who are your favorite sheep personalities?
Kami: The Targhee Rambouillet breeds are made for the Montana climate. They all stick together and are really very smart! We have a couple that were raised on a bottle we call the “Gang” they always stick together and love to pick on our guard pup. Most are great mothers also. We continue to breed for fineness and staple length and it is so rewarding when we are starting to get fleeces in the 64-70 spin counts with 4″ staple. I always say happy sheep grow soft wool 🙂
KTS: You have a beautiful new line of Tabacco Root Valley Yarn out now; what makes this yarn so special?
Kami: This is something I have been wanting to do for years. When a local wool mill (The Montana Wool Barn) opened 3 years ago in my area, I knew it was time to jump in with both feet! I started hauling in about 10 fleece at a time to get yarn processed, once the yarn was spun I started playing with colors. This yarn is a true Montana Yarn all raised and processed right here in the Tobacco Root Valley.
KTS: How did you select the colorways?
Kami: Our yarn colors are inspired by all the beautiful streams, plants and rivers that the valley holds.
KTS: What’s it been like to work with designers who have developed patterns for this yarn?
Kami: I have only had a couple of patterns designed. It is an interesting process. My favorite part, by far, was working with Tracie (Stix Chix) on the Copper Leaf sweater. She is part of the Stix Yarn Shop a local yarn shop who has been helping me sell my handspun yarns for years. She understands my operation and wanted to create a beautiful sweater to help show off my Tobacco Root Valley yarn line. I am always opened to new ideas from designers 🙂
KTS: We did an interview about the Copper K Fiber Fest back in 2016. How’s it going and what’s new or upcoming for the Festival?
Kami: We are working on our 4th festival! Last year was the biggest yet. It has become a destination festival with vendors, teachers, and students coming from all across the United States. The new challenge this year is continuing forward on planning when there is so much unknowns in our world right now. We are hopeful and will continue forward. We are so thankful for the support our festival has received.
KTS: What’s on your needles and spinning wheel at the moment?
Kami: The Copper Leaf Pattern. I am a super slow knitter without a lot of free time; we are right in the middle of our busiest season of Lambing and Calving, so hopefully I can have the sweater done by summer. Spinning is my “thing” 🙂 right now I am spinning some of my homegrown wool that was blended into a batt with different tones of pinks and reds. Pretty, bright, neon colors. I am spinning very lumpy and bumpy a very textured yarn.
KTS: Do you have any dream projects?
Kami: I have way to many to list…. Always dreaming of new fiber blends, new things to spin, new colors to dye…. So many ideas just so little time 🙂
KTS: Where can folks find you online?
Kami: I have my own website that I designed and run independently: www.ranchingtraditionfiber.com I also have my yarn in different yarn shops and have a full list on my website.
Thanks so much, Kami, for sharing your experiences and a little of Montana with us!
I love meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are an indie dyer, a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email (email@example.com) or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)
Happy knitting! 🙂