New mill produces unique textiles, dog wool included

Posted on: February 14, 2017

 Jane Hobson

In the 1820s immigrants from Scotland began to settle in Lanark, naming it Lanark after Lanark, Scotland. Joined by many Irish immigrants, the lumber and textile industry in Lanark flourished by the mid-1850s. Many textile mills in the area stayed open and in business until the late 1990s but eventually closed shop. But, after a few decades of stagnant textile production in Lanark Highlands, there’s a new fibre mill in town.

Located at 486 Upper Perth Road in Almonte, Noble Fibre Mill produces local and exotic fibre rovings.

“It just makes sense for the history of the area – and there’s no other mill close by,” said Matthew Noble, the owner of Noble Fibre Mill. “We renovated our basement and double car garage into the mill.”

Noble and his wife, Lori, opened their mill in the spring of 2016.

“Getting the machines set up was the most surreal moment of the whole thing so far. And the first customer, that was an amazing feeling too,” Noble said.

Along with making the typical sheep wool and alpaca fleece, Noble Fibre Mill can also produce dog fur textiles that can be made into cozy blankets.

“It’s unusual but a lot of people like it. You need a couple pounds of fur – which actually takes quite a while to collect,” Noble laughs.

Noble Fibre Mill is a member of the Ottawa Valley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild. “It’s a niche market but there’s a larger [textile] community here than people think,” Noble says, adding that people are starting to use woollen products for more everyday purposes.

For example, lots of people twist their wool into a tight ball, about the size of a tennis ball, and substitute it for a dryer sheet. It’s more efficient than one-time-use dryer sheets. The mill also produces rug yarn, which is a thick, chunky yarn that is weaved into a rug.

Noble says his family has been in the fibre and roving industry for decades.

Located in Prince Edward Island, Noble’s parents’ own Belfast Mini-Mills Ltd., a company that designs and manufactures fibre-processing machines, like spindle spinners and winders.

Belfast Mini-Mill also produces a wide range of fibres from skunk, dog and human hair, Noble says, adding that they have been running the whole operation for about two decades.

All of the machinery at Noble Fibre Mill is Canadian manufactured from Noble’s family. “It was great because I already had a knowledge base,” Noble says. “We couldn’t have done this without [my parents’] support.”

“We’re small scale but we’ll service anybody with wool or fibre,” says Noble. It takes Noble Fibre Mill about one to two weeks before the product is ready for pick up. In comparison, larger commercial mills sometimes have a six-month waiting periods before a producer gets their product back.

Noble puts in about 60 hours at the mill any given week. “Hopefully in about four years Noble Fibre Mill will have a store as well. Maybe in Almonte, maybe Perth or Ottawa,” he says. “We’re hoping to get into spun products, like yarn which can be knitted or weaved, in the future.”

Speaking of the future, Noble says he hopes Noble Fibre Mill will compliment Lanark’s local economy. “Clients are invited to come in to take a tour.”

Photo Caption: Matthew Noble, owner of Noble Fibre Mill, in his home-based mill. Photo submitted.

First published in the February edition of Hometown News.