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City attorney finds downtime in spinning yarn at country retreat

Margaret Hardy at home with one of her goats. (Jonathan Spiers)

CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. — When Margaret Hardy purchased her 45-acre farm in southern Caroline County four years ago, the attorney and shareholder with downtown law firm Sands Anderson was looking for a central location from which she could bounce back and forth between the firm’s Richmond and Fredericksburg offices.

What she got with the deal – along with a lot of land, and an 18th-century farmhouse she spent a year renovating before she moved in – was an opportunity to take her lifelong love of weaving and spinning wool to the next level.

Now president of the firm – the first female president in Sands Anderson’s 175-year history – Hardy spends some of her free time spinning wool from her own flock of eight Angora goats, which share the farm with two livestock guardian dogs, one companion dog, two cats, a guinea pig, six chickens, “and about three dozen groundhogs that have taken over,” Hardy laughed.

Having knitted since her childhood, Hardy said she always wanted to learn to spin her own yarn, finally taking up the hobby after completing some classes at the Hand Workshop, now the Visual Arts Center of Richmond.

“It was just a natural, if weird, progression to have farm fiber animals from that,” Hardy said. Laughing, she added: “I have a pin that says: ‘Spinning, because knitting isn’t weird enough.’”

With the wool from the goats, which are sheared twice a year – they’re scheduled for a shearing today, in fact – Hardy makes scarves, hats and rugs to give to friends and family and adorn her house. But she also takes pride in creating the yarn, which she dyes herself after skirting, cleaning and scouring the wool – mohair, specifically.

“When I first started spinning, people would sometimes say with the yarn, ‘What are you going to make with it?’” Hardy’s response at the time: “‘I made it! This is it! I’m done!’

“I haven’t made a sweater. It’s daunting,” she said. “I do knit sweaters, but to start with what’s in the field and come up with a sweater, that would be a big undertaking.”

Laughing, Hardy added: “I do sometimes use that skill to say, when the zombie apocalypse comes, I can make us sweaters.”

As if her apocalypse survival skills and 20-year law career weren’t impressive enough, Hardy also spends her time riding horses and motorcycles – she has a Ducati Monster, and plans to get a horse – and is also a registered nurse and has an MBA.

Continue reading about Margaret Hardy, here on RichmondBizSense.com.