Michael Hampton, the owner and operator of Hampton Fiber Mill & Spinnery in Richmond VT was the afternoon speaker at our Annual Meeting. He came bearing gifts and complimenting the potluck lunch – both good introductions to a very lively and informative session. Michael started his presentation walking us through the path to his dream of creating and working a fiber mill – from his introduction to knitting as a child to his decision to leave an engineering “day job” in TX.
In between there were all the steps that we other fiber enthusiasts understand so well – wanting to have more and better, less expensive, more creative, etc fiber to work with. Using areas of the spinner’s circle as his footprint, he gave us a virtual tour of the shop, describing the steps and machinery. The planning and design, and the sourcing of the equipment, was an 18 month project. His equipment is higher capacity than a mini-mill and he has processed a wide variety of fibers from far and wide – U.S. and beyond. It was a great give-and-take session as he discussed some technical details about fiber processing (organic certification, why his mill is classified as semi-worsted, recommended soaps for cleaning wool, what is superwash) and some fun facts about wool production around the country and the world. And, of course, he was among friends who could totally understand his enthusiasm for rescuing wool from dumpsters and then turning that wool into beautiful skeins and sweaters to be admired!
The gifts he brought? Bags of fiber ready to spin – a variety that went to the cook who brought the terrific bean dish, to some who had terrific questions or good (not necessarily correct) answers, and to others for surprise reasons that deserved a door prize. Many thanks to Michael for an interesting and educational afternoon. If you want to learn more about his mill, the website is www.hamptonfibermill.com.