A Day in the Life of a Fiber Mill
Last Friday, Cathy (Luvswool) and I took a lovely drive out to Belvidere, Illinois to tour the Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill.
Nestled in the midst of farmland, we were surprised to turn into a homestead driveway. I guess we were expecting a huge factory, but it was a quaint store and small facility crammed with custom made machinery. The idea for the mill started when Jane Zeien’s family purchased two ewes for a 4 H project. The family enjoyed working with the sheep and began raising Cheviot, Hampshire, Shetland and Cotswold sheep. They decided to expand their services to help promote the industry.
The Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill can handle everything from washing fiber, blending, picking, carding, pin drafting, custom dyeing, preparing batts and spinning. All types of natural fiber are welcome unwashed or washed. And no order is too small and each fleece is processed individually.
Jane greeted us and led us into her workspace and into wool heaven.
We were surrounded by fleece waiting to be processed in a variety of breeds and blends and piles of roving in a potpourri of colors and blends.
The picker has a big enclosed space behind it where the fleece piles up ready for the next step.
The carder dominated the center of the room.
Batts can be made on the carder by changing out the parts on the back of this machine shown here making roving.
This is the pin drafting machine.
Depending on the job finishing the wool can be done on the spinning machine, then the skeining machine.
When the tour was over we visited the shop where everything is related to sheep from skins to finished good by Pendleton and Woolrich along with handmade items, books, roving and yarn. If you want to learn more about the mill visit their website http://www.ilwoolfibermill.com/
Of course, we both bought some new wools to play with. One of my treasures was an English Merino wool batt.
Here are Cathy’s new treasures —