Casting-Off: Margrit Lohrer of Morehouse Merino

Interweave Margrit with Cat

Margrit with her Cat

Certain people in this world leave an indelible imprint on our hearts, and in Margrit’s case, in our stash, wrapped around our shoulders and lovingly stored in the family cedar chest. Interweave Knits, Winter 2016 had gone to the printer just a few days before I received an email from Albrecht Pichler, Margrit’s husband, informing me that Margrit had peacefully passed away at Northern Duchess Hospital in the early morning after her five and a half year battle with ovarian cancer. A little over a month ago, Claire Houlihan visited Margrit, Albrecht and their dogs at Morehouse Merino Farm to interview her for Interweave Knits, Winter 2016. We feel that sharing her story with you is more important than waiting for the release of a magazine issue. Here are her words, her spirit and a part of her life by which we will continue to be enriched. Thank you Margrit.

With gratitude,

Meghan

MeghanBabin_Sig

Interweave Morehouse Merino Rams

Morehouse Merino Rams

INTERWEAVE KNITS, Winter 2016: Ravelings (pg. 96)

CASTING-OFF: Morehouse Merino

by Claire Houlihan

Years ago, when I was rediscovering the joy of knitting, I had
the good fortune to stumble across In Sheep’s Clothing, a yarn shop
located in Rock City, a small hamlet outside the bucolic Hudson Valley
town of Milan, New York.

The shop owner, Margrit Lohrer, together with her husband,
Albrecht Pichler, own Morehouse Merino Farm, just down the
road. To describe In Sheep’s Clothing as just a yarn store would be a
disservice. The shop offered a wonderful mix of colorful and natural
merino yarns, sheepskins, felted insoles, pottery, and the most
tantalizing knitting kits, all set off by architect Albrecht’s beautifully
designed space of bright light, warm wood, and birch trees. The shop
was an outgrowth of the Merino sheep farm, originally purchased as a
weekend getaway in 1977.

During the week, the couple lived and worked in New York City,
where Margrit pursued a career in graphic arts. She and Albrecht started
researching sheep to determine which breeds to raise on their farm.
They concluded that the fine wool of the Merino breed was exactly what
they wanted. In 1983, they purchased a small flock of four at a livestock
show in Pennsylvania from an Ohio breeder. But it was not until Margrit
and Albrecht attended an international sheep congress in Canada that
they found what they were looking for—the finest Australian merino
fleece. After acquiring two Merino rams from Australia, they began
sheep farming in earnest, and in 1990, Margrit said goodbye to city life
for good. Now, in 2015, Morehouse offers its soft merino wool in more
than seventy colors and weights from bulky to laceweight.

Recently, she announced that after a five-and-a-half year battle with
ovarian cancer, she has decided to sell Morehouse Merino Farm. And
so, on a September day, I went to Morehouse to visit Margrit. Albrecht
and their dogs Guinness and Pancho greeted me at the gate. We sat in
Margrit’s comfortable living room, filled with bright colors and antique
furniture, and spoke about her favorite topics—knitting and yarn.
When I asked Margrit about matters related to knitters, knitting,
sheep, yarn, and more, her answers were eloquent, so I offer them to you
without my questions.

“Knitting is popular everywhere now . . . The pleasure of knitting
is that it’s quality time. If I have a dilemma, I can wonder, ponder,
and search for the solution while I’m knitting. We gain so much in the
process. That is the message I want to share, that we are a lucky bunch of
people . . . show your knitting off to the world. I don’t even like to call it a
talent because that word scares people away. It’s an ability.

“I had a shop in the house initially . . . At first, I didn’t want to dye
the yarn, but eventually we did. We did all our dyeing in our studio here.
Now, our yarns are commercially dyed. They’re spun in Pennsylvania,
dyed in North Carolina, and shipped back to us in skeins.

“We gave the shop up to concentrate on the online store. We’ve had
Morehouse online for a dozen years now. Although I miss the feedback
of the shop, and the personal interaction, I do get messages from our
loyal online customers. The time has arrived, though, where I have to
admit I am no longer physically up to it. Realistically, I’m not able to continue.
So Albrecht and I are looking for a buyer for Morehouse Merino,
and we hope to find someone that will continue to take good care of all
our customers.”

This year at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, the
Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Growers Association awarded Margrit
their Lifetime Achievement Award for being so instrumental in popularizing
the Merino breed in the United States. Our thanks to her for all she
has contributed.

CLAIRE HOULIHAN is a member of the Dutchess County Sheep
and Wool Growers Association and president of the Elmendorph
Handspinners Guild. Her son, Terence, jokes that she’ll be all set if
she has to go back in time because of her two loves, spinning and
skeet-shooting.
For more information about the sale of Morehouse Merino Farm,
please contact Albrecht Pichler at a.pichler@harthowerton.com.

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