Monday, October 4, 2010

Natural Fiber Socks

SARE Farmer/Rancher Grant Recipient FNC01-349
Alton, MO – Nancy Barnett

Objective: To promote the production and use of wool, mohair, and Angora rabbit fiber to produce natural fiber socks. This is a sustainable agricultural operation because it turns natural fiber, a renewable resource, into usable products.

Results: I have a 12-acre farm in southeast Missouri on which I raise sheep, Angora goats, and Angora rabbits, practicing sustainable production by allowing the livestock to rotationally graze.  We needed an outlet for the animals’ natural fiber of wool, angora, and mohair to produce more revenue for the farm and make the animals more cost efficient. I have been a hand spinner for 25 years and have sold my natural fiber to other spinners for almost that long.

However, there is only so much fiber that one can sell, so we began to look for a product that would use the fiber and generate income. Our solution: natural fiber socks.

We obtained a commercial sock machine needed to process our fiber into a commercial product – socks labeled as 100 percent wool, 15 percent Angora and 85 percent wool, and 25 percent mohair and 75 percent wool. They sell for $10, $18 and $12 a pair, respectively. The profit on the Angora/wool socks is the greatest, averaging 75 percent markup if I do the washing of the wool before sending it to the mill and also if I am able to deliver the fiber to the mill owner at one of the fiber events I attend. I have many repeat customers who look for me at the fiber events I attend every year.

Response has been very good. Farmers, fishermen, hunters, and hikers who need very warm socks have been a good customer base. I attend craft and fiber festivals to promote my products and was interviewed by Successful Farming Radio.

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