I’ve been spinning for about two years now, I have a small wheel that I use now but I started on a drop spindle.
My wheel is an Ashford Joy 2, which means they are made in Australia but imported here to a limited number of dealers who have prices set by Ashford. To make you choose to buy from them, they include extras- my wheel came with 1.5 lbs of fiber, a niddy noddy and an extra bobbin. The fiber that my wheel came with was most likely farmed in either China or Australia and prepared in China.
The wool that I’d been buying to use with my drop spindle(s) was grown in Washington State (where I was living at the time), milled and dyed there before being transported the 15 miles to Port Townsend to the store. I really liked my yarn store but quickly realized that I wanted to buy in larger quantities than they carried most of the time. So I got an introduction to the guy who ran the mill for them.
I started by having him mill a llama and an alpaca fleece for me that I’d been given. Barry did wonders with those, taking very dirty fleece and turning out a very reasonable number of lbs of roving for me.
Then I started buying directly from him for the most part, I still bought at the yarn store but mainly for specialty fibers that were dyed and combine locally but not grown locally.
I also tried buying sheep fleeces over the internet, but not being able to see what quality made it a hit or miss. But Barry did pick and card two fleeces for me from Michigan, so at least I was moving closer.
Then I moved half way across the United States to Colorado, where we have lots of meat sheep and a few specifically fiber sheep. Lots of Navajo Churros around as well. So, I’ve been spinning what I have and am down to my last two lbs of fiber.
Since there isn’t a local mill here, and really no where to buy the amount of roving I need. I called Barry up and told him how much money I had and asked if he’d pick out that much fiber for me. I asked that everything be something he could trace to the source, with a preference for Washington.
That fiber should be here in the mail today!!!! I’m excited to have that to work on, but I also want to look into starting a mill here.
La Plata county and the surrounding counties certainly have enough sheep to make up the volume needed, and there are lots of product options that don’t require the finest of fiber sheep breeds. Who knows where this idea will lead, but I hope it will lead to more jobs in the area and not sending our fiber out of the area.