Serving local producers at The Fiber Mill
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The owner of a Stromsburg business is offering some useful services to small wool producers with Nebraska’s first custom wool mill.
Kelsey Patton says her business is called The Fiber Mill. It’s a place where people can bring their wool or alpaca, and she then turns it into yarn they can take home. This business is a little different than larger mills. “Perhaps the most famous example in Nebraska is the Brown Sheep Company,” Patton said. “They differ from us in that they buy wool from various farmers, and they turn it directly into their own lines of yarn that they sell throughout the world. We do not do much in the way of buying wool. We mostly have small producers bring us their wool, alpaca, llama or mohair, and we turn it into yarn according to their specifications. They will take it home and use it, or maybe sell it at farmers markets. We also turn wool into other products like felt.”
Patton has been interested in fabric and yarn throughout her life. “When I was 13, I told my mom I wanted to knit a sweater, but first we needed to buy some sheep,” Patton said. “My mom and I both learned how to spin, weave, and knit. When I got out of college, I started my business ‘Spindle, Shuttle and Needle’, which is a yarn shop. I was only one year into my business when I decided it would be nice to have a wool mill.” With lots of planning and preparation, Patton was able to open her mill last August. “We’ve been working on the wool mill ever since” Patton said.
There are many steps in the process of producing yarn at The Fiber Mill. “The very first thing is when someone brings in their fleece, we check it in, weigh it, and look it over to make sure it’s strong enough to be processed,” Patton said. “Then it goes through the rest of the steps. It has to get washed, it has to get dried, we have to pick it, which fluffs it up. Then it goes through the carder, and then it goes through the pin drafter and the spinning frame.” There are, of course, other steps in the process as well.
The mill is part of Patton’s business. She also still runs her yarn shop which is in the front of the building. “‘Spindle, Shuttle and Needle’ is a yarn shop I’ve had for 10 years in April. The storefront is here, but I also sell online, and ship yarn all over the world,” Patton said. If you would like to visit the business, visitors are welcome. Patton says the best time to see the fiber mill is usually on Saturday mornings. For more information, call (402) 405-1971.
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