My hubby and I recently took a trip to the Ohio Valley Natural Fibers mill in Sardinia, OH. It was about an hour and a half drive through the countryside of OH to the mill, and such a gorgeous day to do so. We left early enough to arrive at the mill before lunch. I wanted to have my three fleeces processed into roving.
The first fleece is an Alpaca fleece I bought at a fiber festival in Indiana at least 3 years ago. At the time I bought this fleece, I wanted to learn how to spin on a drop spindle, and thought this was a nice, little investment for a project in the future. The drop spindling didn't quite work out for me, so this lovely fleece just sat in storage until now. It looks like it has been washed already, so will just have the mill pick it and card it into roving for me.
The next two fleeces I purchased this year at the Great Lakes Fiber Festival in Ohio. The first is 4 pounds of Blue Faced Leicester (BFL). Aren't the colors gorgeous? I really hope the colors are maintained in the roving when it's processed. Than name of the sheep that this one comes from is Marigold.
Check out the staple length on this lovely!
The next fleece is 8 pounds of Lincoln from an ewe named Hellbitch. :) I had to laugh at that name when the farmer told me. Original price was $55.00, but I bought it for $15.00! It also has a lovely staple length.
All bagged up, and ready for the mill!
When we arrived at the fiber mill, we were kindly greeted by the workers. They checked in my fleeces, told me they would be ready for the Wool Gathering fiber festival in September (that way I only have to travel 20 min to Yellow Springs, OH to pick up my fiber instead of going back down to Sardinia), and asked us if we wanted a tour of the mill. OF COURSE we did! :)
The first stop on the tour was the picking machine, though the first step in processing fleeces is washing. They do the washing in machines within their house, so that isn't part of the tour.
This machine picks out the vegetable matter (VM) and other debris from the fiber. It shoots the fiber into the screened off room behind it.
The next stop is the huge drum carding machine.
The cleaned fiber is thrown into the machine, and works its way up the drum carders and onto the other side where it is rolled into roving strips. A person sits at the end of the machine and collects the roving and puts it into boxes for the customers. If the person only wants roving (like me) the process is at an end. If the person wants their fleece made into yarn, the process continues on to the next machine.
This machine rolls the fiber into very thin strips called "pencil roving". This prepares the fiber for the yarn machine.
This machine takes the pencil roving and plies it which creates yarn.
This machine takes the yarn and winds it onto cones.
These machines are from the early 1900's. Many of the parts (like the cones you see above) are no longer being made. We were told that once they run out of these cones, they will no longer be able to use the machine. How sad! Many mills have closed in the USA over the years, but this one is still going strong...30 years+! I'm so looking forward to getting my roving from them in September.
After we finished our tour, we spent a little time in their small shop. They sell fiber, dyes, needles, spinning wheels, looms, books, and more. They also go to fiber festivals in the area selling their products.
After the fiber mill, we drove 30 minutes to the Serpent Mound site in Peebles, OH. My hubby and I had heard about it and figured since we were so close, we should check it out.
We had a picnic at the park, then walked around viewing the Serpent Mound. From their website, "Nominated as a World Heritage Site, Serpent Mound is the largest surviving example of a prehistoric effigy mound in the world. Stretching 1,348 feet over the ground, the beautifully preserved ancient earthwork depicts the form of an undulating serpent with an oval shape at the head."
View from the top of the tour. Unfortunately, you can't see the entire mound from up there.
The serpent's tail.
We enjoyed our hike around the mound, and then it was time to head home. Such a gorgeous day to be out on a road trip, and experience some history too.