Currently I’m working with some one from Pine River Shares on an ambitious plan to start a fiber mill in Bayfield. I find this interesting on a few levels.
The first level being that I’m a spinner and I’d like to not have to mail order my roving (although Taylored Fiber’s does a great job). This way I’d be able to have more say in the blends and design of the roving that I use. I’d like to be able to market my yarn as locally grown, milled and spun.
The second level that I like this idea is that I want to have sheep. And since sheep make wool I’d be able to say that I grew the wool that I made into yarn. How neat would that be? Of course sheep are a long way down the road for me, but I can dream.
The other level that I think this is neat on is the job creation level. Bayfield doesn’t have much going on right now, but it’s getting there (they finally have a microbrewery, but no bookstore). A fiber mill can be a keystone business for a region. It can help growers (the word grower is used because wool come from sheep, llamas, alpacas, goats, bunnies, etc and the term is generic enough to cover all those options- and that doesn’t include the plant fibers) get better prices for their product. It can help spinners, weavers, and knitters find a marketing niche. And of course it would employ people to actually run the mill. We do know that our goal will be to provide living wage jobs.
Like the title says, right now it’s the dreaming stage. The “what all could we possibly want to do” stage, which is part of the fun but also the hard part. If we don’t have the right equipment for our market, we won’t make any money.
So far it looks like we’ll need a washer, drying racks, a picker, a carder, a de-hairing machine, and of course a carder. Then there is the location, there are a few choices in Bayfield so we’ll see where it goes as we go along.
Another aspect that we’ve been doing lots of thinking about is the structure. Maybe a Co-op? Maybe not? Who knows? Not me.
I’ve also been thinking about alternate revue streams. I have grand visions of what I want this to end up as, and I wish it was already at that stage.