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Today I have the pleasure of introducing a short film about rug maker Elizabeth Eakins. Inspired by the Shakers, Elizabeth has been making exquisitely simple, hand-loomed rugs for many years. She started her business in the 1970s, wheeling her rugs around New York City in a grocery cart.

(Gah! Look at the yarn on the chair. Photo by Victoria Pearson.)

Until my sewing circle sister Gael Towey told me she was working on a film about Elizabeth, I thought of Elizabeth Eakins rugs solely as an upscale brand from the D & D building. I don’t think I was sure that Elizabeth Eakins was a real person; I certainly didn’t imagine that she and her husband had a farm in the Flint Hills of Kansas, where they keep a flock of Border Leicester sheep whose multicolored fleeces are spun into the gorgeous natural and naturally dyed wool yarns used in Elizabeth’s rugs.

Here’s the film. 

Gael Towey and Victoria Pearson co-directed the film, and Victoria Pearson is the cinematographer.

(Victoria Pearson, shearer Josh Patry, and a Border Leicester sheep, all on the job. Photo by Gael Towey.)

If something about the film’s beauty and light seems familiar, it might be because you’ve seen their work before. Gael and Victoria collaborated together on countless projects for Martha Stewart Living, where Gael was the creative director from the inception of the magazine in 1990.

(Gael and Martha in a Texas cotton field, shooting a Kmart commercial in 1998.)

In 2012, right around the time our sewing circle started meeting, Gael struck out on her own to make short film portraits of artists and makers. Her catalog now includes portraits of Rosanne Cash, Natalie Chanin, Maira Kalman, and Sheila Berger. (Go ahead and watch them all. Sometimes I re-watch them, when I need a lift of inspiration and strength for the journey.)

A Plaintive Cry

So, all of this is great. I have just one problem with what Elizabeth Eakins is up to, with the Border Leicesters and the color-mixing of fleeces, and the natural dyeing: will she ever make yarn for handknitters?

Let’s start a petition.



  • She’s gonna need more sheep.

    • a LOT more.

    • Zing! “She’s gonna need a bigger flock!”

  • The Flint Hills are stunning and you should go see them.

  • Thank you Modern Daily and sister stitcher Kay for sharing our video. It is a thrill for me to tell these women’s stories. Gael

  • Thank you for letting us meet these inspirational and inspiring people.

  • Watching that film was the best ten minutes of my day.

  • This video sure tug on the heartstrings in a whole bunch of different ways! Her home is just beautiful, her rugs are exquisite, oh the yarn….and the sheep!! I really wanted to scratch their little noses and give them kisses. This also maybe you wanted to few times that I could see myself happy not living near the ocean. Thank you for sharing!

  • Awesome! Thanks for sharing this story and movie.

  • So glad to learn about this amazing woman and her flock. Thank you!

  • Simply lovely.

  • What an incredible inspiration. Elizabeth’s voice and the scenery are so soothing! I would love to sit in a chair or lean against a tree and knit, enjoying the sound and smell of the sheep.

  • Particularly moving as my great grandparents were Swedish immigrants to Kansas. Like many immigrants, looking for religious freedom and the opportunity to create better lives for their families. A lovely film!

  • Loved this; I’ve shown the Natalie Chanin film to my fashion writing students, and it was great to see this one. Makes me want to run away and start a sheep farm.

  • Elizabeth is blessed with living her dream life! I love the loom room! As well as the farm, the sheep and the home!

  • Thank you for that. What a lovely little film. As a prairie lover through and through, I especially appreciate the beautiful cinematography and Elizabeth and Jerry’s commitment to the land. BRAVO to all involved.

  • Oh, I loved this! Beautiful in every way. I was already a fan of Pearson’s beautiful work, and now must look for more of Eakins.

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