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Ozark Carding Mill Caters to Felters and
Handspinners Across the United States


By Melissa Schneider, NLPA Correspondent

What started out as a passing interest in a child’s 4-H project led Gail White to operating a full-time carding mill in Warsaw, Mo.

“I started handspinning in the 80s as a result of our daughter’s 4-H bunny project - I couldn’t throw away the fiber,” White said. “It led to an interest in processing my own fiber, purchase of sheep, etc. I was a handknitter and soon found I had more yarn than I could knit. I learned to machine knit as well.”

The hobby soon turned into a business.

“Because of the wool processing business, I decided to take the ASI Wool Certification class and did that in the 90s,” she said. “I purchased my original equipment in 1995, and began operations in Snohomish, Washington. We moved to Warsaw, Missouri in 1996, where Ozark Carding Mill operates today.”

Ozark Carding Mill is a full-service mill, providing, washing, picking, carding into roving, batts, webs, and yarn.

“We have a commercial pin drafting machine, which provides a semi-worsted roving for hand spinners and for machine-spun yarn,” she said. “We also do custom dyeing and blending of fibers for our customers.”

“We process all protein fibers and have done silk and cotton blends. We process about 3,000 pounds of fiber a year, about 2,000 pounds of wool and mohair, the rest camelids,” she said.

White manages the business as the only full-time employee, but gets a lot of help from her husband, Jim.

“He keeps the machines in order as we have some older mill equipment that requires TLC.

Ozark Carding Mill caters to handspinners, felters, weavers and knitters from across the United States.
“Our customer base is in the hundreds, both processing and retail at sheep festivals - there could be more. I’ve never counted them!” White said.


As a result, Ozark Carding Mill has expanded several times since it began operations.

“We added onto the building three times in the past four years - increasing our washing, drying and shipping areas,” White said. “If we continue to grow in the processing to support the spinning we may need to purchase a larger card to increase our processing capability.”

These expansions led to White’s involvement with the National Livestock Producers Association’s Sheep & Goat Fund. A couple of years ago, White applied for funds to purchase a larger carding machine.

“In 2001 we received our loan and purchased a larger card, replacing two smaller cottage industry machines,” she said. “It has increased our production by at least a third and maybe more. It is a more productive machine and produces a better web, which enabled us to process fibers for yarn. We wouldn’t have been able to do that with the old equipment.”

White said that the low interest rate at the time was very attractive to her business.

“We had secured funding for the machine to get it ordered. By the time our loan was approved we had the machine. We paid off the higher interest loan with NLPA money,” White said. “It is good to see an organization, like NLPA, that is interested in the sheep and goat business in the United States. It is very helpful for small producers who are trying to expand a business.”

White not only used the Fund to increase production at her own operation, she also credits the loan for helping her enhance a friend’s business as well.

“We have entered into a business arrangement with Sharon Meador of the Full Bobbin to have yarn spun for us,” White said. “We couldn’t have done this without the purchase of the new carding machine, that we financed through NLPA.”

According to White, Meador was contemplating a fiber-related business, but didn’t want to go into competition with Ozark Carding Mill.

“We discussed doing yarn together as a part of my business, but decided to work together and keep our business’ separate,” White said. “I was maxed out just doing the roving, so she decided to do the yarn spinning. In essence she’s an extension of Ozark Carding Mill, LCC.”

Meador purchased one of White’s cottage machines for her operation. She raises goats and needed a card to do the longer wools and mohair blending of her own fibers.

"One of my cottage cards had been designed for mohair and longer wools. Her purchase helped me with my machine down payment,” White said. "I do all the processing, washing, picking, carding, blending, pindrafting, of customer orders and she does the spinning. The machine I bought with the NLPA funds allowed this to happen.”

White said Meador lives about 1 1/2 hours from Ozark Carding Mill. The two meet at shows, exchange customer fibers or sometimes ship to each other.

“When the yarn is finished she ships from her place and I do the billing,” White said. “Sharon’s yarns have been very well-received. She has several wholesale accounts established and sells out at most of the fiber shows we do. She has a beautiful blend of wool and mohair yarn she has developed and a unique process for dyeing that produces beautiful, multi-colored yarns. She spins lace, fingerling, sport, worsted and DK two-plies on both cones and skeins. I can process enough fiber to keep her busy.”

When White isn’t working at the mill she said she occasionally teaches dyeing and fiber related classes at some of the wool shows and also judges fleece shows. She also belongs to a guild and has taken classes from many well-known fiber artists over the years.

For more information about Ozark Carding Mill, visit their website at www.ozarkcarding.com. For more information about the NLPA Sheep & Goat Fund, visit www.nlpa.org or call 1-800-237-7193, ext. 10.



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