During Maine Maple Weekend (March 26 and 27), we will be featuring a display of fiber products from Sarah Miller. Please join us to honor her work as a fiber artist.
About ten years ago, we went to the Miller Farm in Livermore, Maine where they had raised sheep for many years. We heard they had Corriedale sheep, a breed that we like a lot.
At that time we met Sarah Miller, who designed and sold “Oh Wow” mittens and mitten kits using Bartlett yarns. We were taken to her walk in closet full of Bartlett yarn. The Millers sent their wool to be processed into yarn with wool from other Maine farms at Bartlett.
That day I bought a kit and made a pair, which were on display in our store (before the Tesseract was built). True to the name of the mittens, everyone who tried on these mittens soon exclaimed “Oh Wow” because the mittens are lined with very soft merino roving, knitted in such a way that little hearts show on the outside.
Earlier this year I learned that Sarah Miller, who died several years ago, had left a closet full of yarn, mitten kits, and hand designed knitted sweaters and vests that the family was hoping to sell so as to be put to good use. I learned that she was a retired chemical engineer, who was a prolific knitter and enjoyed many hours of designing sweaters as well as mittens and hats.
In Robin Hansen’s book, “Ultimate Mittens,” she is featured as the designer of wind block mittens with snug and ribbed cuffs. Sarah tested the mittens on a windy day in 1993 when the weatherman said the wind chill factor was minus 40 degrees F. As a spinner and sheep farmer she had much to say about the quality of the Maine wool that goes into them.
I remembered seeing Sarah knitting a pair of mittens when we visited her, and was reminded that she had knitted hundreds of pairs of mittens. That day we brought bags and bins of yarn, sweaters and mitten kits back to the farm store to sell on consignment. We talked about Honoring Sarah Miller on the occasion of Maine Maple Weekend.
For Maine Maple Weekend we are creating a Sarah Miller corner in the Tesseract where we are featuring several pairs of her mittens, hats, sweaters and vests, as well as “Oh Wow” mitten kits and Bartlett yarns in her favorite colors.
Robin Miller, her daughter-in-law, wrote the following note about Sarah’s years as a knitter.
“Sarah was truly an amazing knitter. She had nearly 70 years experience with knitting! She used to knit argyle socks for the soldiers in WW2. I put together memory boxes for the 4 “kids” for Christmas from “stuff” I found that belonged to her and George. Argyle socks she and his sister Martha had made for him were among the treasures.
When she was teaching me to knit she almost never had me fix mistakes – just repeat them so they became part of a unique pattern. She herself was unique that way. I miss her. This experience of cleaning out is bittersweet.
We don’t need all this yarn and it’s great to have you help us find good homes for it. This is really about honoring her in some way that validates her work.
Thank you for being a part of this journey with us.”
This past week our Tuesday Knitters modeled the sweaters and vests, which really do look nice on someone. Perhaps you would like to come try one or two on yourself. Maybe one of Sarah Miller’s knits is perfect for you to enjoy on cold winter days and cool spring and fall evenings.
Or perhaps you would rather purchase a mitten kit that includes everything needed to make wonderful wind block mittens, so good on a day that is well below zero. They knit up quickly and, if you know how to do Fair Isle knitting, are really quite easy to make. The pattern includes directions for child sizes as well as small, medium and large mittens.