What mill do you use?

BrownSheep

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Im looking to process some of our wool this year and most definitely won't have time to do it myself. The majority of my sheep are medium-fine wool.
What I am wondering.

Who do you use?
What do you order ( yarn wise)?
Cost?
Expectedtime for processing.

I am looking at doing maybe ten of our nicest fleeces depending on cost.

Also, some of our flock didn't get sheared last year should I avoid their fleeces? I wouldn't say they have anymore VM than the others.
 

Bridgemoof

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I haven't used a mill yet, but a lot of people use Zeilinger's. They are one of the biggest I think. They are at a lot of the big fiber festivals and will take fleeces back to their plant.

I am going on a field trip to Singelton in Frederick MD on Saturday. They charge $10/lb. for raw wool into roving. Many places have their prices listed online. Just keep in mind that when they give the price per pound, that is the before washing weight. A lot of weight gets lost in the washing and carding process because of the grease.

As far as longer fibers, I don't see any reason why the mill can't process those but I will ask. Usually they charge extra for finer fibers like suri alpaca, maybe cormo and maybe even merino. I guess the finer the wool the more difficult it is to run through their drum carders.

Oh time for processing is VERY long! I've heard anywhere from 3 months to 6 months. That's a drag to have to wait that long.

I am going to take some samples of my various fleeces with me on Saturday and get their opinions. Something with a lot of VM, some cormo (fine) and really long staple Jacob. I want to get some different fleeces made into roving that I can dye, fine yarn for weaving, and maybe some rug yarn.

If you have any other questions, I can ask them on Saturday! Should be a really cool trip. :D
 

Roving Jacobs

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I've used a bunch of different mills and had a bunch of different results. I'll have to look back over my notes but for now here is what I remember.

I really like Still River in CT for my Jacob yarn. Their "slubby" is so cool looking! It's lumpy and bumpy like handspun. They do a good job with all their spinning and haven't had any problems with them.

Ohio Valley Natural Fibers has really nice rovings but I didn't like their yarn as much. It wasn't spun as tightly as it could have been and I just wasn't as impressed as with other mills. I still send stuff to be made into rovings there though.

Zeilinger is supposed to be THE place to send finewools and I've heard other places have trouble with combing the fine stuff right. I have also had at least 2 people tell me they sent stuff to Zeilinger and got entirely different stuff back. Like from different sheep. I understand they're a big place and mixups happen but as a small producer that's unacceptable to me.

Every place will have different prices and turnaround time. In general it will be somewhere between $10-20 a lb and take 3-9 months. Call the mill up first to check what their timeline is before you send stuff off. Also check to see if they base the price on incoming weight or outgoing weight. I always skirt and wash my fleeces before sending them off to be processed to save some money. I don't want to pay processing for grease and dirt!

If you're sending in extra long fleeces ask the mill ahead of time if they can handle it. Some places have staple length limits. I know my mohair is too long for a lot of places. Usually if they get it and its too long they can suggest someplace else to send it though.
 

BrownSheep

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Hey Bridge, if you don't mind would you ask what their length max is?
Roving , what's the limitations you've come up with in particular when it comes to length?

So, I know that this differs, but how much yarn can I expect to get per lb of raw wool?

I hope to be able if wash it but it really comes down to what job I get for this summer.
 

WhiteMountainsRanch

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You guys might as well be speaking a foreign language! :lol: :gig I read everything but understood not half of it... I guess I'll get there someday! Anywho, carry on! :thumbsup
 

Roving Jacobs

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BrownSheep said:
Roving , what's the limitations you've come up with in particular when it comes to length?

So, I know that this differs, but how much yarn can I expect to get per lb of raw wool?

I hope to be able if wash it but it really comes down to what job I get for this summer.
I think the max staple length was 12" at one place and 8" at another but its really variable based one what equipment a mill has.

From my one ram who produced about 4-5 lbs of nice blanket fleece raw I got 8 skeins of yarn. I think they were 150 yard sport weight skeins.
 

michickenwrangler

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I didn't know Zeilinger's was so well known, I'm only 1 hr north of them.

Also in Michigan is Stone Hedge in East Jordan up near the Mackinac Bridge.

Thus far, I've done all mine myself.
 

Bridgemoof

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Hey Brownsheep, I went on my mill field trip on Saturday. It was a much smaller operation than I imagined it would be. They had all of the smallest equipment of the manufacturer's line. I learned a lot though!

Their turnaround time is 6-9 months. Their backlog happens at the washing process. If you send in washed fleeces the turnaround is much quicker. They use BORAX on their fleeces, which surprised me since it seems kind of harsh. But I'm going to try it. They said it is very effective at removing grease. They recommended that if you bring in washed fleeces that they be free of grease and free of as much VM as possible. The longest fiber length that their equipment can handle is 7". Also, if wool is sheared it can only last about 6 months before washing. All the grease and urine and insects can degenerate the fleece. So if you have to store it for a while before sending it to a mill, wash it and then store it.

Turns out this mill in particular can't handle my Cormo at all, doesn't like Finn, were iffy about Shetland...and admitted the only wool their equipment did the best was Romney and Leicester! I may send my Jacob to them to get it made into rug yarn. But they did recommend a place in PA that could handle my finer fleeces.
 

Roving Jacobs

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Bridgemoof said:
Turns out this mill in particular can't handle my Cormo at all, doesn't like Finn, were iffy about Shetland...and admitted the only wool their equipment did the best was Romney and Leicester! I may send my Jacob to them to get it made into rug yarn. But they did recommend a place in PA that could handle my finer fleeces.
I've got a roll of Jacob rug yarn that is lovely but I haven't gotten around to doing anything with it yet. It was from a fleece I didn't wash quite right and was worried that it wouldn't make very nice regular yarn so I went ahead and did rug yarn. It's so squishy and fairly soft. Some day I will get around to making the runner I have planned.

I remembered the other mill I use a lot finally. Ozark Carding Mill in Durant OK. They are able to do single animal lots (some places have minimum weights so you have to do large batches) and include washing in the price because they just really like washing fleece I guess. They are comfortable with Jacob, Cormo, mohair, even dog hair! They can't spin anything with a staple length longer than 6 inches though, their machines just can't process it. I've had some really nice sock yarn with alpaca and bamboo blend made there that sold really quickly.
 

Bridgemoof

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Yeah Roving, I got the impression that the mill we visited encouraged you to get them to wash the fleeces, because if they get a fleece in that isn't quite lanolin free it can mess up their drums. :hu

I found a mill relatively close to me in PA that can do my cormo. I would prefer to hand deliver my fleeces instead of shipping. What a pain. How do you even ship your fleeces? Or do you drop them off at a fiber festival?

Now you've sold me on the rug yarn idea. :D
 
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