We had the good fortune of connecting with TeDi Jansen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi TeDi, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Our farm is built on the premise of community and sharing skills. This has always been a gathering place. As soon as we moved here, I knew I wanted to share this farm with others. Friends came for dinner, campfires and just to sit and look out at the foothills. In the first year we added goats and sheep to our horse/dog/chicken menagerie. That next spring brought lambs and kids and the next year puppies, more reasons for visitors. Our first event was a spring sheep shearing with half a dozen helpers, assisting in handling sheep, helping the shearer and taking care of the fleece. It was a grand day and that night I sat down and wrote a plan for classes and events that would introduce more people to our farm and the heritage skills I use to process our sheeps’ wool – spinning, weaving and botanical dyeing. My favorite class is our five day fiber camp. A small group gathers and we process a raw fleece from spring shearing to finished weaving. It’s my favorite week of the year. We become a little community in 5 days. I’ve made life long friends during those weeks. This year has been a challenge. All our farm classes were cancelled and we became isolated. Thank goodness for the internet, facebook live and online class platforms. It became an amazing opportunity to cast our community out into the world (and learn some new technology)! I am heartened each time I go live with our current litter of puppies and see familiar names from around the world pop up in the comments. Folks from around the country are signing up for online classes and our newsletter. In a time of isolation we have found a way to connect and one that will move our business forward.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love that my art has a story. It starts with my special little herd of sheep. Sometimes I take my spinning wheel out to the pasture and spin with them. They whisper their stories to me and give me suggestions (ok, sheep tell you, they do not suggest) about how to process and spin their wool. It is so satisfying to step back and look at a piece and think that it was once grazing in my pasture. I am a fiber artist. Sometimes I still feel like I am an imposter saying that. I came to my art later in life. I had lost my job and was embarking on a journey as a full time farmer/shepherdess. I had some sheep and some wool, now what? About that time my mother gave me her spinning wheel, a finicky tool that saw her through her midlife. And so I taught myself how to spin. Our first sheep were a heritage breed. They were wild and fierce mothers and made fiber and babies out of harsh land. They had very coarse fiber. That fiber and wheel taught me to make something out of adversity. I like to say I can spin just about anything on just about any wheel now. Through a transition to a finer wooled sheep and and an easier wheel I began to create beautiful yarns. I didn’t love to knit but the yarn was piling up and so I took a weaving class and fell in love. My journey in my forties started unconventionally and weaving fell into that unconventional place. I break the rules with my spinning. I spin for texture and color. I combine fibers that are not “traditional”. My weavings highlight those textures and colors, a place where experimentation meets beauty. Recently I have been weaving a series called “Tools of the Trades”. I went hunting antique shops for tools that I could warp and weave. I have completed a couple of saws and am currently working on an egg basket. I love the energy of the old tools, telling their stories to me as I weave.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ooo! I love sharing northern Colorado with friends! Day 1 Exploring Old Town Fort Collins, shopping at Makerfolk in the Bean Cycle, Kansas City Kitty, checking out the current exhibit at the Museum of Art Fort Collins and grabbing lunch at the Butterfly Café. Dinner is on the grill at the farm, sitting and admiring the view of the foothills. Day 2 We’re headed to the mountains. We stroll around Estes Park and spend the night at the Stanley hotel. Day 3 Takes into Rocky Mountain National Park and up and back Trail Ridge road. We grab dinner at Café Mexicali on the way home for an early evening after our big trip Day 4 We’re back in Fort Collins heading to midtown and the Blue Moose Gallery where we spend a couple of hours browsing art from Colorado artists. We lunch at DGT Authentic American Tacos, complete with their awesome horchata. Day 5 Our friend is a craft beer enthusiasts and a visit to Fort Collins wouldn’t be complete without a brewery tour. We rent city bikes and do a self guided tour of Odells, New Belgium and Red Truck breweries. Day 6 We’re back out on the trail today, more local at Lory State Park, hiking into Horsetooth Mountain park and eating a backpack lunch on the trail. It’s our last night and we celebrate a fantastic week, seeing the sights with home brewed ale and rootbeer at Coopersmiths. What a week! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are many people who have helped us on our way here on the farm and a few that stand out. James Haught and Lora Bledsoe started us on our goat journey and mentored us along the way. Rebekah Paulson was my introduction to the amazing world of botanical dyeing and continues to be a much needed sounding board. For years I have been meeting with a little group of creative small business women. Together we have brainstormed, listened and played devil’s advocate for one another. I don’t know where I’d be without this group of bright creative friends; Jennifer, Melissa, Jane, Beth and Rebekah. Rounding out my supportive community, my dear friend Tai who has seen me through the ups and downs of farming and life. And last but certainly not least, my partner Toot, who encouraged me to follow my dream and make farming my life after I lost my job and who is the best sport about me wanting another fiber tool (and makes many of them for me) or another animal (although I am not allowed to drive out the gate with the trailer attached to the truck without supervision).
I took all the photos except the one with me in the sheep pasture which was taken by Sydney Jaye Photography.