- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Karen Hostetler stood in her wool mill on a Friday afternoon, surveying the machinery within the giant warehouse.

“We didn’t envision this,” she said. “We envisioned something in our garage.”

Hostetler is the owner of Mountain Meadow Wool, the largest wool mill in the state. It’s based out of Buffalo. Her company produces 24 different types of yarn, every one named after a Wyoming city.

Mountain Meadow Wool began seven years ago, reported the Casper Star-Tribune (https://bit.ly/29sZfKN). Hostetler had always wanted to have a business but never knew what it would be. When her seven kids were old enough, she decided to pursue that dream.

“You have a second life sometimes after your first one raising the family,” Hostetler, 59, said. “I went to college and my degree was in science and nutrition. Then I got married and had children. And I also took weaving classes in college. Thirty years later, I opened a wool mill, but I didn’t know that was going to happen.”

She had always been interested in fiber. It’s natural, and the process from animal to clothing fascinated her. So Hostetler and a partner decided to open a mill. There were plenty of ranches with wool and sheep within the state, but nowhere in Wyoming to buy it. Their goal from the start was to establish more of a wool market.

Mountain Meadow Wool processes wool from roughly nine ranches throughout the state. They use fibers from alpaca, sheep, bison, llama and even yak. All of the yarn is made at the facility in Buffalo then sent out to companies across the country to be used for other products like blankets, hats and mittens. The yarn is bought by companies as far-flung as Australia, Europe and all over the U.S.

There is a retail section within the Buffalo facility that sells yarn and other products that use Mountain Meadow Wool, spanning an array of colors. The yarn is hand-dyed at the facility.

Brenda Bayliss’s job on that Friday was to dye the wool. She finished a group of yarn that was dyed a burnt orange, dusty pink, bronze and earthy green.

“I enjoy the variety in it,” Bayliss said.

But before the yarn is colored, it must be cleaned. The wool is delivered in heaping piles. Those piles are streaked with orange chunks of grease and dirt, straight from the animal. The wool is then washed and sorted. The finished product has a cotton-ball-like quality.

“We wash like 400 pounds a day,” Hostetler said. “That 400 pounds turns into about 200 pounds of clean wool by the time all the grease and dirt is off.”

Mountain Meadow Wool currently processes about 15,000 pounds of wool per year. The state in itself produces about a million pounds in the same span. Hostetler would love to see her company grow and continue to help Wyoming’s economy.

“It’s good for Wyoming to have something other than the energy industry,” Hostetler said. “It gives people jobs and diversifies us a little bit. Uses one of our agricultural products.”

___

Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide