Lisa Lisk: ‘All Things Hand Made’

By: 
BECKY STUVA
Lisa spins one-ply angora yarn on the spinning wheel.
photo by Becky Stuva
Lisa spins one-ply angora yarn on the spinning wheel. 

When Lisa Lisk of Greenfield hands you her business card that reads “All Things Hand Made,” you can take that statement literally. Lisa’s knitted and crocheted projects start with yarn made from wool harvested from her beautiful angora rabbits, or from purchased wool from sheep, so they are definitely “hand made” and made from scratch!

Lisa grew up and graduated from high school in a suburb of Houston, Texas, and then moved to Sweetwater in west Texas where her two daughters and four grandchildren still live. She later made the move to Greenfield with her husband, Gene Lisk, where she says she is known as “Gene Lisk’s wife.” 

She had always wanted to raise rabbits and saw a French angora rabbit advertised online for sale in Missouri. They drove to Missouri and picked up her first rabbit and their herd has now increased to 11, four adults and seven babies. Three of the rabbits are French angora, which Lisa says produce less wool than her eight giant rabbits. 

The babies are about the size of your thumb when born and Lisa starts the taming process when they are about a week old by holding and stroking them. When fully grown, the rabbits weigh about 10 pounds. The rabbits are nocturnal and sleep most of the day so they can be awake at night. They receive morning treats of fresh greens and sunflower seeds and eat their pellets at night in preparation for their “awake” time.

Lisa had started crocheting when she was about 12 years old and later took up knitting. She now uses the beautiful angora yarn, spun from her rabbit’s wool, or yarn spun from sheep’s wool for her projects. 

You Tube was the resource she used to learn the process of harvesting the rabbit wool and spinning it into yarn. Wool is harvested either by combing the wool, or clipping it, using a special technique of turning the shears so as not to clip the skin. Lisa says harvesting by combing will leave no blunt ends, which is the result when the wool is harvested by cutting. 

Once harvested, the wool is carded to disentangle, organize and align the individual fibers, rolled onto dowel sticks and into small rolls called rolags, or rolled into larger rolls called batts. One-ply yarn is then spun from the rolags or batts, either on a spinning wheel or a drop spindle. 

Lisa says that the angora is harder than sheep’s wool to spin. Spinning two single ply strands together in opposite directions results in two-ply yarn. To create a smooth two-ply yarn, similar thicknesses are spun together. If you want “bumpy” yarn, you would spin two different thicknesses together. Kool-Aid is used for coloring the yarn. The finished projects are very delicate and can be hand washed very carefully, but Lisa recommends that you “just don’t get the angora dirty,” rather than trying to wash the finished products.

Lisa uses a measuring tool called a Niddy Noddy to measure the yarn when she is ready to sell it. She sells the yarn and knitted or crouched items made from the yarn on E-Bay. Angora wool sells by the ounce, $7 for raw, $9 for carded and $12 spun into yarn. She recently sold three pieces of knitted items for $225 total.

Lisa is very passionate about caring for her rabbits and spinning yarn from their wool. She has been hand spinning her own yarn for about four years. Prior to running a day care, she taught classes at the Greenfield library for about three years and estimates that she had 100 or more students during that time. After starting her day care she taught free classes in her home and is still eager and willing to teach classes, whether in her home or to groups, such as 4-H or home school groups. She no longer runs a day care and will teach anything from basic knitting or crocheting to the process of making your own hand spun yarn, or will even assist if you are having problems with a knitting or crocheting project. She can be contacted at 641-743-8931 or by email at lklisk@gmail.com

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