Valley Oak Wool and Fiber Mill – Woodland, California - Atlas Obscura

Valley Oak Wool and Fiber Mill

Woodland, California

Wool processing mill in an unlikely location. 

Sorry, Valley Oak Wool and Fiber Mill is permanently closed.

Two ramshackle barns in the middle of nowhere–nowhere being the sprawling agricultural land (rich with corn, sunflower, melon, and tomato crops) between Davis, CA and Woodland, CA–are home to this wondrous wool-processing mill.

Founded in 1982 as part of the New Franklin Society, a co-op of locals looking for environmentally-friendly ways to develop local resources, first operated as a wool-washing facility for local shepherds, initially funded by a grant obtained from the U.S. Department of Energy. It is one of approximately seven of its kind left in the country and the last of its kind in the region.

The property features a few corrals whose resident alpacas, llamas, and sheep are shaved seasonally for their wool. Inside the barns, monstrous East Coast-imported machinery dating from 1923 through the ’50s–contraptions as formidable as deep sea giant squid–perform tasks to separate the millions of hairs fed to them, processing them in a highly specialized manner in order to create the perfect grain worthy of worsting. Other machines–such as a 1941 spinning frame from an old Connecticut mill, a 1956 Whiten roving frame built in North Carolina, and a 1958 Schlumberger French Comb made in France–expertly transform the carded wool into yarn, the impressive industrial acoustics an unexpected joy.

The mill specializes in small to medium custom textile orders, creating made-to-order yarn, raw fiber, and blankets.

Formerly known as Yolo Wool Mill, it was reopened in November 2017 under the new name after the previous owner retired for health reasons earlier that year.

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