From sheep to sweater
Fiber arts store owner cherishes her work on Hartford area farm

By Sheryl Popp - Special to Conley Media

Aug. 21, 2019

 Luci Williams among the colorful yarns and garments that can be found in her shop,
Sheeping Beauty.
Sheryl Popp/Special to Conley Media

TOWN OF HERMAN — Luci Williams owns and operates Sheeping Beauty Fiber Arts on her farm a bit west of Allenton. She has been creating fiber arts for 35 years.

Raised on a farm in southern Minnesota, she was taught to crochet by her grandmother, who also read the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” to her. She taught herself to knit at age 7, and became interested in spinning at an early age as well.

“We were very close to the ‘Little House (on the Prairie)’ area,” said Williams. “I always thought I would stay there.”

Marriage brought Williams to New Berlin. When she began looking for a job, her brother suggested she raise sheep. After meeting a woman who lived in the Eagle area and was in a spinning and weaving guild, Williams began borrowing a spinning wheel and soon landed a job at Old World Wisconsin. There she perfected her skills and also worked as a tour guide.

“I was there seven years and learned a great deal about the different nationalities that were represented in the various buildings,” said Williams. “But when I began raising my children, I wanted to stay home with them more.”

By opening her own shop, she could produce goods at home, and spend less time in a retail outlet than she did at Old World Wisconsin. Williams raised about a dozen different types of sheep over the years and had shops in a number of locations, including West Bend, Germantown and Cedarburg. She creates items by spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting and felting, offering apparel and accessory items and home décor pieces such as rugs and placemats. She also teaches all these art forms to students. (Dates and registration info are listed on her website.) “After all this time I’ve really lost track of how many people have taken my classes,” Williams said. “I would have to guess about 1,000 a year. One of my most eager students was an older gentleman. He started by becoming interested in how the looms were made, and he was able to build one. Then he wanted to learn how to use it. I also had a student that was visiting from Russia. I attended Flax Day on a trip back to Windom, Minn., and I want to learn how to produce and weave flax next.”

Williams said she’s had many peaks and valleys in her career. One of the peaks was when her business attracted the attention of Milwaukee Public Television host Dan Small, who shot two episodes for his show. One was at her farm, taking a look at raising sheep, and in the second episode, they traveled to her shop to show her processing fiber and display some of the items made with it. She was also the Wisconsin spinning coordinator for the Wisconsin Spin-In for eight years.

Seven years ago, Williams and her husband Roger moved to her present location. He remodeled a garage to turn into her store, and the couple bought more sheep. A short stay up north proved not to their liking and they have returned to stay to their rural Hartford-Addison area farm. In addition to Williams’ hand-made products, the store sells all types of wool, from all over the world and Ashford wheels and looms.

“We’re back here for the long haul,” said Williams, “and couldn’t be happier.”

Sheeping Beauty Fiber Arts has an open house twice a year. She is part of this year’s Fall Harvest tour on Sept. 28, which includes stops in Hartford, Neosho and other area businesses.

Sheeping Beauty Fiber Arts

Where: W533 Highway 33, Town of Herman
Phone: 262-623-0244
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and some Saturdays