Nobletown Fiber Works Is My New Fiber Mill

Kim through Robin’s legs

I got a price list from Nobletown Fiber Works this morning and am very happy that it is comparable with the Vermont Fiber Mill.

It’s a relief to know that I’ll have a good mill to bring my wool to this spring.  And I can expect it back in the fall as usual.

Now I’m excited to see what I will do with the wool that is different than I’ve done in the past.  It just becomes another way of being creative.

The rug wool, I’m thinking of getting,  hand knit into a rug with the knitting needle attached.

Our Visit To Nobletown Fiber Works

Me and Lewis Cleale,  the owner of Nobletown Fiber Works

It was just as we expected an hour and a half down Route 22.  Nobletown Fiber Works is just past the main intersection in the small town of Hillsdale NY.  As easy ride from the farm.

The front door opens right into the mill.  Two rooms of machinery that makes raw wool into roving and yarn.   Lewis Cleale, the owner was there to answer all our questions, while two woman, one who owned her own fiber mill for years ran the machinery.

There was also a sweet blue eyed long haired Australian shepherd-like dog who licked my face.

I was impressed by what I saw along with some new options for processing my wool that I hadn’t considered before.

Rug yarn

The thick rug yarn pictured above can be knit with large knitting needles into a soft rug.   Or it can be woven into a fine rug that is more durable. The wool can also be processed into batts of roving, which can be used for felting.

the same rug yarn woven into a rug

The three ply yarn has a bit of a different texture than I was getting from the Vermont Fiber Mill, but the samples I saw looked lovely.  I’ll also be able to get my roving for dryer balls.

I have no doubt that my wool would be in good hands after seeing the mill and meeting Lewis who was friendly and helpful and Sarah, who runs the machinery.

Lewis is a Broadway actor and hopes to retire in a few years to work full time with sheep and wool.  He has big plans for the mill as a place where people can come to learn about sheep and wool processing, weaving, knitting and felting. He has begun building a barn for more space to work in  and hopes to have a Fiber Festival in the town one day.

But for me, I’m glad to have a place I trust to get my wool processed.  The only thing I’m waiting on is a price list, which might be in my email as I write this.

Jon in the shop


Visiting Nobletown Fiber Works

Jon and I are off to Nobletown Fiber Works in Hillsdale NY.

They are our neighbor in a way, just an hour and a half south on NY Route 22.  I’m curious to meet Lew who owns mill and see his set up.

I know there will be some changes to my yarn that will come from working with a new fiber mill, but instead of being anxious about it like I was when I first heard that The Vermont Fiber Mill was up for sale, I’m excited to see what those changes will be.

And I’m glad to have you all along for the ride.

We’ve been doing things pretty much the same over the past ten years of my keeping sheep and selling wool.  The changes I’ve made like dying my wool and combining the different types of wool and making dryer balls have all been creative and for the better.

Now I’ll have to put aside my expectations, let go a bit, and see what comes.

There are some things I hope to learn today about the wool processing, one being the pricing.  But I know that working with Nobletown, I’ll be able to get the 3ply yarn on 200 yard skeins and have my roving processed in the same way.

I’ll take some pictures and let you know how it goes.  I’m eager to what happens today.

Not A Scrap Of Hay Wasted

The sheep have two meals. One from the feeders and the other from the backs of the other sheep.

It’s inevitable that as I’m bring the hay to the sheep, some will spill onto their backs.  They add to it when they dip their heads into the feeder and it sticks to the wool on their head, neck and face.

Kim is eating the choice pieces of hay from Constance’s back in the picture above.

There won’t be a scrap of hay on any of the sheep by the time I feed them again in the afternoon.  This is especially true when there is snow on the ground and little for the sheep to graze.

Thinking About My Wool, Visiting The New Fiber Mill

That’s Suzy looking at the camera.  Next to her is Merricat, Lori, Socks and Asher and Robin on the other side.

I walk past Merricat and run my hand along her back.  Her wool is about 2 inches long.  It’s spongy, soft, thick and feels substantial under my hand.

I do the same to Robin, who is too preoccupied eating to be annoyed by my touching him.  Robin’s wool is thinner, it slides under my fingers like silk.

Sometimes I just stand next to the sheep  and notice the different textures and colors of their wool.  Asher and Issachar’s are almost interchangable except for the color.  Issachar’s wool has always been darker.

Lori and Robin are the only other sheep who have similar wool.  They both turn a little lighter gray every year.

In a couple of weeks Jon and I will visit The Nobletown Fiber Mill in Hillsdale NY.  I am on their list to have my wool processed there this spring.  They’ve only been in business two years, but I have a good feeling about them.  They process wool in a that way that I’m familiar with.

But I do want to see the mill before I bring my wool there.

I’ll be uneasy enough taking my wool someplace new. I know I’ll feel better about it if I have a feeling for the place and meet the owner in person.

The sheep and selling my wool has become an important part of my life and work.  I never imagined I would feel this way about it when I got my first three sheep, Socks, Suzy and Tess over ten years ago.  I’ve worked at figuring out the best way to process and sell my wool, learning something new each shearing.

And I’ve come to have some definite ideas about how I do it.

But this year, I’ll have to do things a little different since The Vermont Fiber Mill is being sold.

The Nobletown Mill doesn’t do any dying, so I’m considering learning to dye my wool myself.  I have a friend who would like to learn too, so if all goes as I’m thinking it may, we’ll be learning together.

I will have to consider that I my wool may not be as profitable this year as it has in the past because of these changes.  But, I do trust over time I’ll figure it out and who knows what good may come of it.

If nothing else it will make for some interesting blogging and I’ll learn something new.

Asher’s Crown

Asher with his branch crown

Even with six inches of snow on the ground the sheep and donkeys are going into the back pasture to graze.  I’ve seen the places where they have scraped away the snow to get at the dry brown grasses. But mostly they nibble on bark and branches.

I can always tell when they’ve been in the brambles because they come back to the barn with all kinds of things stuck in their wool.

Today Suzy was dragging along thorny branch and Asher was wearing one like a crown.

My Search For A Fiber Mill To Process My Wool

Constance, Suzy, Robin and Lori grazing in the back pasture.  You can see the farmhouse, my studio and the barn in the distance

Yesterday I spoke to people from two fiber mills.  David at the Green Mountain Spinnery, in Putney Vermont and Lewis who owns  Nobletown Fiber Works in Hillsdale NY.

I had no idea until talking to them that there were different kinds of wool processing.  It’s possible that the mill in Putney wouldn’t even be able to process the wool from my Romneys.  I’d have to bring them a sample to be sure.  They also process roving in a way that I don’t believe I could use to make dryer balls.

I’m still a bit vague on the details, but right now I’m planning on using Nobletown Fiber Works because they would be able to create the same type of wool and roving I’ve been getting from the Vermont Fiber Mill.

The only thing they don’t do is dye wool.

But I’ve been talking to a friend who also has sheep and we’ve been planning on experimenting with dying our own wool.  So that may be an option.

Nobletown Fiber Works has only been in business for a couple of years.  I still have to check on their pricing and I want to visit the mill too.  It will be a fun day trip for Jon and me.  I may visit the mill in Putney too, just to see what they do.

With the loss of The Vermont Fiber Mill there will be some changes to my wool.  But I want to be as consistent as possible.  But I’m also not opposed to some change, it can be exciting and be the beginning of something new.

Looking For A New Fiber Mill and Letting Go Of My Brother Sewing Machine

Lori with a face full of snow

We’re still four months away from shearing, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it.  I woke up last night reminding myself that I need to find another fiber mill to process my wool.

Seems I always have something more important to do than make those phone calls.  It was so comfortable working with Deb at Vermont Fiber Mill for the past 11 years that I’m hesitant to begin my search for another mill.

But even more, I don’t want to wake up in the night thinking about it.

So this morning I called two mills one in Putney Vermont and one in Hillsdale NY.  They are both an hour and half from the farm, the same distance as the Vermont Fiber Mill.

I left a message with both but neither got back to me.  I will call again tomorrow morning.

I did get a message from John, the sewing machine repair man.  He said my Brother sewing machine with the F01 message would best be serviced by a Brother dealer.  There is not much he can do for it.

I bought my Brother Sewing machine in 2010 and it served me well.  Fourteen years isn’t really old for a sewing machine, but I feel like I used it up.  It’s hard to get parts for it (I used duct tape to attach the thread cover when it broke) and the switch that turns it from straight stitching to free motion sewing hasn’t worked for years.

It’s not hard for me to believe that I wore the motor out.

So I told John to keep the machine for parts.  That way it gets to live on.  And since I’m doing well sewing free motion with my Viking machine I won’t need a new sewing machine to replace it.

I get a little nervous thinking about letting go of both the Vermont Fiber Mill and my Brother Sewing Machine, but I also believe that something new will come from both.

My Brother sewing machine when I first got it with my first Singer behind it. I gave the very simple  Singer which is over 35 years old, to a friend a couple of years ago.  It still works.
Full Moon Fiber Art