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Mary Loper ’86

| Rebecca Dienger

Mary Loper '86 is working on a "spinner's flock," which is made up of various breeds of sheep that will produce assorted wools for knitting and weaving.

About 15 years ago, the UW-Eau Claire chemistry-business graduate left a hectic corporate job to be home with her children and devote more time to creative arts, primarily using fiber.

She and her husband, Mark, recently built a house on some land in Ellison Bay, where they plan to retire within five years. In the meantime, they are working on outbuildings, reviving an old pasture and starting a "dye" garden for tinting the wool. Loper attends shepherding conferences and is already getting requests to board sheep for other fiber crafters.

"I learned to spin wool in the third grade when our teacher brought her spinning wheel to class," Loper said. "She lived on a farm and had two sheep. I thought then that this is the kind of life I wanted when I grew up."