PUSLINCH, ON, CANADA
Ute Zell, owner of Freelton Fibre Farm and Mill, has over 40 years of knowledge in hand spinning and utilizes her excellent mini mill machinery to produce specialty yarns unlike any you have ever dreamed of.
Her Mini Mill setup is specially designed for producing smaller volumes. The smaller volumes allow her to personalize each fleece to her customer's desires. By processing only a single animal's fleece at a time, a farmer can better understand that individual animal's fiber quality and characteristics.
She recently added a fibre separator or dehairer to her processing, allowing for separation of the guard hair from the softer undercoat often needed for animal breeds that grow a dual coat in colder climates. This results in the highest quality fibre. Her overall fiber processing results in a semi-worsted yarn due to the added combing/fiber-aligning machines the fleece is passed through.
WHY IS THIS A NECESSARY COMPONENT OF OUR SUPPLY CHAIN?
Ontario has a limited number of small scale mills and each of them have their specialty when it comes to processing. They usually are quite good at processing the type of fiber their animals produce or what types of fiber are most closely located to them. Shipping raw fiber can really get expensive.
Did you know that approximately 2 lbs of "dirty" wool (freshly shorn off the animal and has not yet been washed) usually only yields 1 lb of clean fiber product? That lanolin is quite a heavy substance as is all the dirt and vegetation that it "glues" to the fiber.
Alpaca fiber will more often produce 3lbs of clean fiber for every 4 lbs of "dirty" fiber provided (no lanolin to glue in the vegetation - just dust).
A lot of mills have systems where you can drop off your dirty wool to them at their shows to save on shipping. It also helps to ensure that no drastic climate changes occur during shipping which would felt the wool together and make it almost unusable - alpaca fiber doesn't have this problem.
A lot of these mills when they first opened would be able to process your fiber from dirty fleece to finished product in 3 months. Now there is such a heightened demand, the waiting times are closer to a full year! Ute's relatively new mill is an incredible treasure to have so close to our company's location. It means we can hand deliver our fiber, talk over desired construction types, as well as have a shorter waiting time - that is until her roster fills up too!
Because Ute is a fiber farmer herself and processes so much fiber for other farmers, she has an incredible store of knowledge when it comes to the local fiberscape. She is also an incredibly gifted fiber artist that weaves, hand spins, knits, etc., and as such knows what fiber types and construction types best perform for certain end uses! An amazingly wholistic viewpoint on fiber processesing,we believe, and we are greatly looking forward to having her mill process our fiber for our first Fall/Winter collection this October!