Moffat County students visit dyed-in-the-wool Craig mill | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County students visit dyed-in-the-wool Craig mill

Lauren Blair

Fiberworks volunteer and weaver Susan Domer demonstrates her hand loom to Moffat County High School fashion design and clothing students Thursday at Yampa Valley Fiberworks north of Craig.

Moffat County High School's Fashion Design and Clothing class got a firsthand look at custom, fiber-milling technology Thursday at Yampa Valley Fiberworks north of Craig.

Fiberworks may be less than a year old, but the wool industry has a long history in the area.

As part of the Career and Technical Education program, the class visited the mill to learn how raw animal fibers are transformed into yarn.

"I wanted them to see how thread or yarn from animal hair was processed," said Family and Consumer Science teacher Kelly Pyper. "We're learning not just sewing in the classroom but also fiber and textiles. They're learning how they can take this and put it into a career."

The class spent the early afternoon touring the mill and learning about the steps fibers go through. After being picked over for debris and sorted by hair lengths, the fibers are washed and dried. They're then cycled through a series of machines that spin, ply and skein the yarn.

The mill processes raw fibers from all across the country, including sheep, alpaca, goat, buffalo and even yak fibers. Blends are often created of two or more of these products.

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The retail shop in front of the mill offers yarns from local growers and products from local artisans, including fine, local Merino wool yarns and knit items.

"For a long time, everyone thought they had to import Merino wool from New Zealand," said volunteer, artisan weaver and knitter Susan Domer. "But we have some world-class fiber being grown right in this area. It's a spinner's dream, magnificent wool."

Towards the end of the tour, Domer gave the students a demonstration of how the hand loom worked.

"I know about the spinning wheel from 'Sleeping Beauty' but I've never seen the commercial machine," sophomore Jessica Johnson said. "It's really cool to see how it works and what it does."

Johnson, an avid student of the MCHS family and consumer science classes, was inspired by the trip. She hopes to enlist her grandmother in helping her to utilize some of Fiberworks' beautiful products.

"I want to learn how to knit, how to crochet. I'm really excited to learn how to do it," Johnson said. "It's my ideal Christmas picture of sitting and knitting by the fire."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.