Ringadal Farm

Free Union, Virginia

Susan Skalak



The natural world has been a part of my life since I could follow my forester father into the woods. I grew up loving the Eastern forests and their flora and fauna. I learned to appreciate the quiet of the forest broken by birdsong, and the four seasons that brought changes seen through the wildflowers, the trees and the fruits of the forest. This early immersion in nature has colored both my art and my design. In college I studied mechanical design, working as a manufacturing engineer on an automated printer manufacturing line. I returned to school at the beginning of the rise of globalization to study design methodology, earning a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. My interests turned to sustainable design and design for reuse and recycling.

After leaving academics in 2000, I learned to weave tapestries. I wove pieces inspired by nature, both seen on our farm and in the ocean, a world introduced to me by my husband. After leaving our farm in Virginia, I purchased a fabric store on Bainbridge Island. I expanded my knowledge of textiles and various sewing techniques, and was able to significantly improve my knowledge of quilting, garment sewing techniques, and garment design and pattern making. Now, driven by my love of nature and animals and the desire to produce regeneratively grown, locally made fabric and garments, I am raising goats and sheep on our Virginia farm. These animals give us the fiber to make felted fabric that can be used to produce artfully designed and sewn outer wear that will make a unique fashion statement.