do I know I will get my own fleece back?
I am well aware that this
is a big concern for many people. My background (my past life) was warehouse
management and production scheduling. Even though I now have a small shop
with only a few employees, I am diligent and strict with keeping each
fleece labeled and separate. Every incoming order has a work order written
up for each fleece or batch. This paper work has all information for the
fiber and of the owner and it stays with the fleece thru the entire process.
When I have two fleeces exactly alike in the shop at the same time I keep
them completely apart so as not to mix them up. It would be much easier
for us to run one white Merino right behind another to save time, cleaning
and adjustments. But we never do this because it would be too easy to
get them mixed up during processing. With each of these procedures practiced
and in place, I can assure you that you will always have your own fiber
returned to you.
is the turn around time?
We go by color, so if
I receive your white fleece while I am still on whites, you may get your
fiber back in just a month. However, I generally have had at least a 4-month
backlog for a few years now. You can check my "Special
Notes" for current updates. I can never give an exact date as
to when yours will be finished because every fleece is different. I also
have older, used industrial machines that sometimes go down for unpredicted
repairs. In the color cycle, we are doing whites for at least 2 months
and then move to tans, grays, taupes, etc. all the way up to blacks and
then back down the colors into whites again. This avoids any color contamination.
not schedule colors and turn around times?
This would be impossible
to do because less than half of the folks who call, e-mail or fax me stating
they will ship their fleece “next week” or “tomorrow” do so. This is
understandable. Things come up in our lives and priorities change. I also
have many folks who simply ship their fiber to me with no prior notice.
This is fine because they include basic instructions for me in the box.
So knowing what will actually be here physically next month or next week
is impossible for me to know. Certainly if a customer has a deadline
for a craft show or fiber arts entry, we will do whatever we can to get
those orders turned around in time. But I can never give an exact day
and time for completion. There are too many variables.
is your minimum?
In general, I prefer at least
4 lbs. of raw or 3 lbs. of clean fiber for a run. But we can do smaller
quantities with some stipulations. First, there is a $25 minimum charge
per batch or fleece. Second, these tiny orders usually take longer to
get through the shop. In washing, I usually have two bagged 3 to 5 lb.
grease weight orders in the washer. This is so that they will spin out
balanced. A 1 lb. bag of fleece won’t balance with the average 4 lb. bag
so I have to wait until I have another small order or several small orders
to have a balanced spin cycle. Third, with my large commercial card, the
start of a roving and the end of a roving are where most of the adjustments
and attention are required. The small orders loose the “perfecting” stage
because they are in and out of the card rollers before we can even find
precise adjustments. To eliminate this we have to run another similar
order right before or right after the small order so as to keep the web,
or roving, continuous. You can either provide me with the like fleece
to run close to the small order or I will have one here to use. For example,
if you give me 2 lbs. of grey Romney wool, I will need to run a like grey
Romney fleece immediately before or immediately after your order. The
only negative thing here is that your roving may have a few fibers (contamination)
of the other fleece’s roving in it. This needs to be acceptable for you.
is your washing or scouring method?
I have typical home-use
washing machines and use them for only soaking and spinning out. My hot
water heaters are set at a much higher temperature than your home water
heater. We generally do 3 washes and 2 rinses or what ever the fiber requires.
For “prewashed” incoming orders, I reserve the right to rewash and bill
accordingly for any further scouring your fleece may require. I have found
that about 75% of the “already washed” fibers will still need more cleaning
in order to remove the dirt or lanolin and card properly. We use primarily
natural or citrus based soaps for scouring. I use no harsh chemicals or
about the dander or lice in my fleece?
Lice are sometimes seen
in llama, mohair and alpaca. Dander or skin flakes similar to dandruff
is occasionally seen in mohair goats and in the dual coat wool breeds
like Shetland, Icelandic, and Karakul sheep. The good news about lice
is they die when they loose their host so we are only seeing the dead
nits (or eggs) on the fibers strands. The animal may have had lice at
one time, then was wormed or deloused, but the nits are still in the fibers,
just dead. Skin flakes or dander can be hereditary or due to a lack of
zinc or minerals in the diet. Most common in the dual coat sheep is skin
flakes in the fleece from natural molting or shedding that occurs when
the spring weather warms. Often called rooing, this is a normal process
where the sheep shed their undercoat. In the past these sheep breeds were
sometimes plucked by hand but currently most shepherds shear the fiber
hoping to catch the time and weather before rooing occurs. This dander,
skin flakes and lice nits can cause problems in my card and at the pin
drafting machine. These items do not wash out at scouring so remain in
the fiber through the processing. They act like sticky little pieces of
gum and adhere to the card combs and the exit rollers on both machines.
Then the fibers stick to these exit rollers also which then causes wrapping.
So where the exit rollers should be extracting a nicely combed and formed
roving, it is actually un-combing the fibers and wrapping them around
the rollers. Not all lice or skin flakes create this problem but it occurs
in at least half of the cases, with some worse than others. If we run
into this problem the fleece will be processed at the higher priced carding
rate and then usually cannot be pin drafted. So the order would be returned
as loose roving only in a box or bag. It is always harder to see lice
or dander in the white fleeces. These contaminants are much more obvious
and visible in the colored fibers.
you process alpaca, camel and exotics?
Yes, I can process these
fibers and most exotics due to my carding machines many adjustments. My
Ashworth – Whitin card can be reduced to a snails pace speed and the in
feed can accept very thin layers of picked fiber. These fibers are more
expensive to process due to this slow speed and the ultra thin feeding.
I do not have a de-hairer but can refer you to other processors who do.
do I “skirt” my fleece?
Skirting is removing all
of the undesirable pieces from your raw fleece. This would be matted or
felted parts, dung tags, second cuts, coarser fibers, hoof trimmings,
stickers, vegetable material and any foreign objects. Even purchased
fleeces should be closely checked for these items. I will be pulling out
any items that will harm my machines but I prefer not to skirt the fleeces.
This is too subjective and each person has a different comfort level and/or
application for their wool. If fleeces come in that have obviously not
been skirted there will be a $25 fee per each to do so.
about the stickers in my fleece?
Vegetable matter (VM)
in your fleece is a controversial and much discussed topic. I cannot process
fiber with too much VM contamination. Some of the VM will come out of
the fiber during carding but it is just being deposited into my machines.
It may take me 3 hours to card your fleece but then another hour to clean
my machines. It is just not worth it to any of us. You can always hand
pick your fleeces. We do not do this service. As you will find, it is
very tedious, filthy and time consuming. Also extremely subjective. I
find the worst stickers to be star thistle and burr clover.
large are your batts?
I have a 42” card and
the roller is 48” around so your batt will be 42” x 48” and as thick
as 10” or as thin as 2”. Every wool rolls up differently so how “fluffy”
your batt is will depend on your carded wool.
me about your felts and pricing for them.
My felting machine makes
a 3’ by 4’ sheet of felt. It can be as thick as one inch for a felted
rug or saddle pad. How long it is left on the machine determines how hard
or stiff it will be. The thickness and hardness are important to consider
and should be decided by what your final use will be with the felt. Not
all wools will felt up, so sometimes it is necessary to blend the coarser
fibers with a good felting wool to get the adhesion required. Pricing
for the simplest thin felts to the thick pads range from $20 to $30 for
the felting. Wash, pick and carding to a batt fees are
additional and by the finished pound as shown on my price list. It takes
1 to 4 pounds of clean fiber to make a felt.
is your “spiral blend”?
These are any form of
two color or two fiber blending at the pin drafter only. My pin drafter
takes four or more roving ends to create the further combed and aligned
coils that I offer. If I use two black wool rovings and two white wool
rovings I can create a zebra striped pin drafted coil. We can do four
different colors, or wool and Bamboo Silk, or wool and Mohair, etc. The
possibilities are endless and these create a unique and easy way to market
is my order returned?
Unless you have arranged to pick
it up, I will ship your finished fiber out to you as soon as we have a
large box full. This may not be your whole order but shipping fees are no different for one large
box than for two large boxes. I bill actual shipping charges. The reason
we cannot usually hold your fiber until all of your fleeces are done is
simply due to space constraints. We are extremely limited on space here.
The more crowded we are the slower and more inefficient we become. If
you ever visit my shop you will see what I mean. Don’t forget, I am “fluffing
up” your fiber by processing it. You may send me one big heavy box of
dirty wool and I am going to return it as 4 big lighter boxes of clean
does shipping work?
You can send me your fleeces
by any carrier. Or you can deliver, but see my hours first. Most folks
use UPS, Parcel Post Mail or Fed Ex Ground. Please print and fill out
and include one in each box, or each fleece if necessay. At the very least
be sure to include a note with your name, address, phone, e-mail, fiber
breed and what you want done with the fleece.
do I pay for processing?
Because I bill on finished
weight, I prefer to send an invoice with your finished product. All of
these terms are “due upon receipt” and I ask that you pay your bill within
the week. If you are picking up your fiber please plan to pay me at that
time. If I am storing your fiber for more than one week to wait for you
to pick it up, I will ask that you mail your invoice payment ahead.
methods of payment do you accept?
I accept checks and money
orders or you can call me with your credit card number. I also accept
payments through PayPal. My PayPal account is under my e-mail address
are your shop hours?
I am open to walk-ins
10am to 4 pm PST
Monday thru Friday and otherwise by appointment. If you need my attention
for going thru your fleeces or you have a full truck load, please make
an appointment first.
Do you give tours of
the processing shop?
No, not at this