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Fiber Mill Runs Antique Equipment
"We've processed everything from wolf fiber to buffalo, yak, cat and even dog hair. All kinds of strange things," says Ginny Ferguson, owner of Ohio Valley Natural Fibers (OVNF), one of the largest custom fiber processing mills in the U.S.
  She and her husband, Kent, started with a small carding mill in the early 1980's to process fiber from their own sheep and angora goats. They soon bought bigger equipment and started helping other producers. Kent died in 2010, but Ferguson has continued the business with five employees. She looks forward to the time when she can leave her job as a computer science teacher to work full time at the business.
  At OVNF, fiber is washed, dried and picked clean before being run through a 1907 carding machine. Many customers hand spin the fiber from there. Others want it spun and made into yarn on the company's 1920 spinning machine.
  OVNF has gained a good reputation for its roving. "The way we take our roving off the machine it stays fluffier and loftier for hand spinners," Ferguson says. "We also produce batting, which can be used for felting, or for quilts."
  She sews batting inside a cheesecloth casing for people making comforters. Felting is also growing in popularity, and people use a roving batting to make everything from clothing and accessories to sculptures.
  Unlike some mills, which charge according to the weight they receive, OVNF prices are based on the end weight - $12.95/lb. for roving or batting, for example.
  That makes it easier for customers to calculate their costs, Ferguson says. About 90 percent of her customers are small producers. Someone may send a couple of alpaca fleeces, for example, that will net about 15 lbs. The customer hand spins it into yarn to make scarves that she sells or gives to family and friends.
  Art studios and art institutes also buy material from Ferguson. In addition she sells dyed yarn, a line of books, and spinning, felting, locker hooking, knitting and weaving supplies.
  Ferguson and her employees are always open to new challenges. For example, one customer brought in her own hair to blend with some of Ferguson's fibers. The woman knitted a hat from it, so her husband serving in Iraq would have part of her with him.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ohio Valley Natural Fibers, 8541 Louderback Rd., Sardinia, Ohio 45171 (ph 937 446-3045; www.ovnf.com).

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2011 - Volume #35, Issue #2