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Crafting Traditional Values

NEWCOMB The town of Newcomb is a tight-knit rural community, situated in the midst of pristine wilderness. Its a place where people wave whether they know you or not, and you are likely to find a lifestyle reminiscent of past decades. Its within this community that two women have formed a partnership, and established the goal of returning life to its fundamental elements. Business partners Judy Blanchette and Pam McLoughlin met only five years ago, but they feel as if they have been friends for life. Together the women form Adirondack Woolery, with the hope of reshaping the economy of Newcomb, and providing a much-needed outlet for those seeking personal fulfillment through a traditional craft. "I started spinning in 1978 after going to a fair and watching it done," Blanchette said. "Right away I knew it was something I had to learn. I guess I should have been born a long time ago. The original business was mine; I used to sell hand-knit wool sweaters to cross-country skiers. After a while, I was shipping them all over the world. Based on a skill dating back thousands of years, the art of spinning fiber and making clothing has been a constant thread through the ages. Adirondack Woolery continues that tradition with a focus on public education and community programs. In March the pair will host a series of workshops at the Town of Johnsburg Library, so area children and adults can experience knitting for the first time, or to pick up valuable additional skills. "One of the mainstays of the business is workshops," McLoughlin said. "We use the wool from sheep on Judy's farm and dye it by hand, then use it in the classes. There is a large crafts culture in the United States, its considered a fine art now, and its experiencing a resurgence." Conscious of the hectic lifestyle that plagues many people, and the local need for increased economic opportunity, the partners hope to grow their business in a way that benefits the entire community. "There are networks of people that are spending their vacations doing crafts," McLoughlin added. "Crafts have become the new Zen and people are doing it for relaxation and mental health, including men. We envision having week-long events where people stay in the area, and learn to knit in the Adirondacks." "As my kids were growing up, we had a farm where we raised our own food," Blanchette concluded. "We made our own butter, gathered eggs, and were basically self-sufficient. Now when kids come to the farm for the first time, they have no idea where food comes from, or how clothes are made. We teach them how these things are produced, and we love every minute of it."

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