What are your business hours? We do not maintain a storefront and are not open to the public, so we do not have "open hours". All mill visits, whether for drop off or mill tours require an appointment. Some days we are not at the mill and some days are completely dedicated to production, and have no appointment slots, so please make arrangements before travelling to the mill.
What is your turnaround time? Currently we operating at approximately 4-6 months for spinning and 3-4 months for roving.
How do I calculate a deposit? We require an estimated 50% deposit to begin processing your fiber. The remainder is due upon completion, before we return your fiber. To calculate your deposit for carding orders (roving and batting), determine the pound weight of your fiber and multiply that by the carding price and include a deposit for half that amount. For spinning, simply calculate the roving price and include a deposit for that amount. The final price will be determined after the yarn is finished.
Do I have to pay $35 for skirting? Only if your fleece is not skirted or insufficiently skirted when you send it to us. A certain amount of skirting is included in the processing price, because we go through your fleece when we prep it for scouring. If, during this procedure we find that it is not adequately skirted, we will either skirt it properly and tack on the $35 dollar charge or return it to you at your expense if the debris is excessive. This is because we do not have time to skirt each fleece.
What comprises a properly skirted fleece? First of all for milling purposes there is no need to keep a fleece or the locks intact when you skirt it. To properly skirt your fleece for milling you pick out as much VM (Vegetable Matter) as possible, particularly large bits such as twigs, stick, grass heads, thorns, and burdocks. Remember, the less VM in your fleece, the less VM in your finished product. Remove any other foreign elements such a fecal matter, pebbles, beetles, barbed wire, and so on. Items like these that make their way through and damage our machines will incur a repair charge.
You should also remove as many second cuts as you can, as much of the shorter fiber, and fiber from the belly and legs. Some animals have hairy britch around the back legs which should also be removed. Any fiber stained by breeding markers or paints should be removed so the stain is not spread over the rest of the fleece during washing.
Here is a photo of an unacceptably skirted fleece.
Should I wash my fleece before I send it to you? Generally we prefer that you don't. Rarely do we encounter fleece washed at home that is clean enough for the machinery. We have the facilities to properly wash the fleece without felting it and would rather have you concentrate your time and resources on properly skirting it. If it is not clean enough to run we will rewash it for an additional charge, before we try to card it again. It requires additional machine cleaning time after trying a fleece that is not clean enough, as well as additional machine time, hence the additional charge.
How long does my fiber have to be to spin? Average staple length must be a minimum of 3 inches. Fleeces which prove too short to process will be rejected.
What if my fleece has a wool break? A fleece with a wool break can usually still be processed, but it will have a lot more neps and noils in the roving or batting. This is fine for felting or hand spinning, but will not make a good machine spun yarn. If you are having multiple fleeces processed together, make sure none of them has a wool break that will lower the quality of the rest. If we do spin fiber with a break, it will lead to slubs, and thick and thin areas in the the yarn. If we do spin it , be aware that it will not produce an even style yarn, and will also suffer a higher level of fiber loss.
How do I know if my fleece has a wool break? Take lock and grip it at each end. Snap it taught next to your ear. If you hear a gentle twang sound, it's good. If you hear a dull crunch sound, and on the first or second try it pulls apart in the middle, you've got a wool break. If you find a wool break, select random locks from all over the fleece and test them. It may only be part or parts of the fleece, not the whole thing.
Why don't you take alpaca 2nds and 3rds? We do not have a felting machine or any other facilities to process them.
Why do you add merino wool to some exotic fibers and to some wools? Some exotic fiber and even some wools are simply too slippery to process. If the fiber does not have enough crimp, scale, length or body to hold together in a mass, we must add wool to proccess it. We use a very fine merino top, in stock black, white and brown. You may feel free to send along some wool of your own choosing.
Will this yellow stain come out of my fleece? Maybe. There are two types of yellow stains found in wool, the less common one is called scourable yellow and is usually caused by a highly nutritious feed regimen. This will often wash out but the longer a fleece has been stored before scouring, the more likely it is to have a permanent stain. It can take as little as 6 months to over a year for this stain to become permanent. The other is called canary stain and is caused by a combination of genetics and weather; it will not wash out and is the most common cause of yellowed fleece. We do not endeavor to bleach this stain, we accept it as part of the character of the fleece. It can make a pleasant warm base to fiber that is being dyed.
Can you make a multi colored roving or batting? Yes. All you need to do is separate the colors, ideally into two or three equal amounts of weight. We will load the carding machine appropriately. At present, there is no charge for this extra service.
Can I come to the mill to work on my fiber? No. There are many reasons, not the least being liability. We are not set up for that sort of activity.
Will the lanolin from the wool you process contaminate my alpaca fiber? No. The wool we process has to have all the lanolin removed to run properly in the machines, so there is little chance of lanolin getting into anything. We also clean and maintain our machines on a ongoing basis, so the various residues that are deposited by all types of fiber are removed.
What is Pindrafted Roving, Roving, Sliver, Pencil Roving?:
Our set up is a semi worsted system. We produce roving and pin draftedroving. All our yarn is spun from pin draftedroving. As fiber comes off a carder it is sliver, if twist and attenuation is introduced it is then called roving. Different systems have different processes to make the rovings spinnable by machines. Some use a draw frame to attenuate it but leave it unaligned to do woolen spinning, others use pin drafters to attenuate and also mostly align it for semi-worsted spinning. A further process is combed "top", made with a comber. Top is what is coming out of commercial (not cottage industry) mills for industrial spinning applications and hand dyers can dye it with less care because it's thick and strong. With top, all the fibers are completely aligned, the different length fibers are removed, and the yarn spun from it is a true worsted spun yarn. Combers are scarce and extremely expensive these days which is why you rarely find them in cottage industry mills. Zeilinger's Wool has one if that is what you are looking for. A pin drafted roving is somewhere between a plain sliver/roving and top. It is stronger and straighter than roving, usually thinner than both roving and commercial tops but it is not quite as arrow-straight and perfectly factory looking as top. The other main difference between combed top and pin drafted roving is that a comber can remove most nepps if you have a break-y or snappy fleece and pin draftingwill not remove nepps. Pin drafted roving can often be easier to hand-spin than top but that can depend on fiber quality and part of it can be chalked up to the fact that it is not as thick and compressed as top. True pencil roving is created on a carding machine that is set up for woolen spinning. The web coming off the carding machine is divided into many narrow strips which are wound directly onto a tubular drum. The loaded drum is transferred to the spinning frame and the pencil roving is spun directly with very little drafting.