MCGRAW, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Our latest Food and Farm Showcase takes us to a Cortland County fiber mill that serves small-scale alpaca farms and fiber artists.

Stramba Fiber Mill and Felting Studio opened in an old gas station in McGraw at the beginning of December.

Owner Terri Stramba and her husband Roger used to live on a farm outside of Pittsburgh with lots of alpaca as well as a fiber mill.

But they recently decided to downsize, sell the farm and animals and move the mill back to McGraw where they both grew up.

Terri says by being small, they can take on the small niche jobs.

“Typically, our first-time growers come in and they want each fleece done individually and the animal’s name to stay with it all the way through. We have that capability and that’s basically our specialty. We’ll do the small stuff that the bigger mills won’t do.”

The process of turning fleece into a finished product such as yarn, roving or batting takes many steps.

It begins with a tumbler to shake out any residual dirt.

Then a washer and a drying rack.

Next is goes through the picker and a fiber separator.

Finally, the carder aligns the fibers into parallel strands.

Stramba says she doesn’t currently have a system with hot enough water to process wool, so she’s focused on alpaca, but she can also process fiber from other animals such as Mohair goats and Angora rabbits.

“We can blend with fine merino, I do a lot with tencel, bamboo, I just discovered rose fiber. Those are plant-based fibers that add shimmer and drape. We even have some sparkle in there that we can throw in there, just for fun.”

Stramba also makes her own felt insoles for shoes and boots and sells a variety of alpaca products such as mittens, scarves and hats.

She says it will be several months until she works through a backlog of orders she brought with her from Pennsylvania.

Stramba encourages people to drop in at 6 West Main Street in McGraw.

She’s open Monday through Friday 9 to 5 and by chance and appointment.

More information on Facebook at Stramba Farm and Fiber Mill.