Sunday, June 22, 2008

Custom Woolen Mills

So, I'm back in Canada for a little vacation right now. I was lucky enough in my travels to visit a few fibrey locations, which I thought I might profile (because the rest of my vacation will include a lot of sleep, which just isn't that exciting...)

On 19 June, I stopped by the Custom Woolen Mills. Even though it is a production mill and everyone was hard at work, people took a few minutes to walk me through the process!

First, they wash all of the materials in this huge thing! I was amazed that it doesn't felt, as they use really hot water to get rid of the lanolin, but it comes out the other side just fine.

Then, items that are dyed go through the dye bath.

After they are dry, they need to be prepared. This is the carding machine on the way in. This machine is preparing fibre to be used for sleeping bag/duvets. You can see the machines for yarn production in the top part of the picture. When carding for yarn, the fibre goes through a double carding process, with the second one perpendicular to the first, to ensure the fibres are thoroughly blended.

And this is the out end of the carder. This comes out as a sheet, whereas the yarn system cuts the sheet into a pencil roving as its finished product.

This is the Spinning Jenny, which takes the pencil roving and spins it into yarn. After this, there are a few more steps to end up with skeins for sale.

This is the sock knitting machine! It knits a continuous string of socks with two heels per sock. Then, a person has to cut them apart and finish the second heel as the toe. It looks much less time consuming than my knitted socks!

And the store, of course! I did buy a pound of woolen-spun, worsted weight yarn (as opposed to their worsted spun option... I learn new things from every knitting book... this is from Nancy J Thomas' Tweed book) in a natural grey. Anyway, it's cloudy today, so I will add photos when the sun comes out again. (ETA the photo is now here)

All in all, a very nice afternoon!

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