Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Needle Felted Wool Rugs Created by Lanette Freitag at Kentucky Artisan Center
On Saturday, November 8, Lanette Freitag of Lan Mark Farm in Sharpsburg will demonstrate needle felted rugs from 10:30 – 3:30 at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Lanette Freitag fell in love with rural Kentucky during summer visits to her paternal grandparents farm in Estill County. After receiving a degree in Home Economics from Ohio State University, Lanette became involved with technology and worked for various corporations from New Jersey to Nebraska. She ended up in Michigan where she managed computer systems and programming for Clark Equipment Corp. When Clark offered her the chance to transfer to Kentucky in 1984 – she jumped at the chance.
While working in the corporate world, Lanette and her family continually increased the amount of acreage they owned. Lanette states, “We went from two acres in New Jersey to 26 acres in Nebraska, to a 110 acre farm in Michigan.” Lanette eventually left her corporate job and she and her husband now manage a farm operation with cattle, sheep, llamas and alpacas on 370 acres near Sharpsburg.
It was in 1987 that Lanette first began to raise llamas and alpacas along with a variety of sheep including Merino, Lincoln, Cottswold, and Karakul. Realizing the beauty of the pelts from these animals, she and her husband invented a machine which they patented - to make the fibers marketable. Lanette eventually began felting because it took less time and allowed the natural colors, beauty, and curly locks of the wool to remain intact and visible. She states, “I always had an interest in having a product that was sustainable from the farm – something that we could grow on the farm and sell retail – so that we were involved in the whole life cycle.”
After Lanette’s sheep are shorn, their wool is washed by soaking it in extremely hot water with no agitation. The water is then spun out of the wool and it is air dried. Because wool fibers have barbs on them, they can be made into a sturdy durable fiber by the process of felting. This process, done with a felting needle (which has tiny barbs along its length) catches, twists, and connects the barbs of the wool fibers together. By felting, Lanette can shape and create wearable wool stoles, attaching the natural curly locks of her sheep’s wool as the fringe. She also needle felts wool rugs which she will be demonstrating.
A selection of rugs by Lanette Freitag is regularly available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 975 Walnut Meadow Road, just off Interstate 75 at exit 77 (Berea). The Center’s exhibits, shopping, and travel information areas are all open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the café from 8 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from 100 counties across the Commonwealth. For more information call 859-985-5448 or the Center’s web site www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.