Our process starts with the receipt of your fiber.
1) Fiber Assesssment and verification Upon arrival, we will open the shipment and check the contents. We will make sure you have sent the order forms for each batch of fiber and make sure we understand what you are asking for. We will look at the fiber for suitability for what you have requested. We will also check fiber length to make sure it is workable in our machines.
We will not skirt the fiber unless you have requested so on the order form. We may contact you if we feel there are issues with vegetable matter or other foreign objects in the fiber that may come through in the final project.
2) Tumbling (Non Lanolin Fibers) Once we start each batch of fiber, we will place it in the tumbler to help removes small seconds cuts are well as chaff and to help open up the fiber. The tumbler rotates slowly with the fiber inside. The tumbling action helps small pieces of vegetable matter and short fibers to fall out.
3) Picking For suri fiber, we run the fiber through our hand picker. The locks on suri are very tight and the hand picker is much less likely to cause damage to the locks. 4) Washing We use a wash system designed specifically for fiber. The machine is similar in function to a clothes washer you have in your house. It has a variety of cycles that we can select from depending on the type of fiber we are washing.
5) Drying We used drying racks for the fiber that are separated by color. These racks allow us to fluff the fiber up and speeds up the drying process.
6) Dehairing (Optional Step) If your fiber has some strong fibers in it, has a dual coat, or has a lot of vegetable matter, we can put the fiber through our dehairer. This machine separates out the strong fibers and short fibers as well as helps drop out vegetable matter. It does NOT remove all vegetable matter. Plus this can significantly reduce the volume of fiber left due to the amount that is removed.
7) Carding This machine assists in aligning the fibers. This machine also us used to make roving that you can sell. This machine is also used to make batts that can be used for felting. This machine is the heart of the mill and the biggest piece of equipment. The fiber is fed in on an intake table where it goes onto a large rotating drum. There are five sets of smaller drums that take the fiber off the main drum, further align is and place it back on the drum, At the back of the machine is a doffer that helps take the aligned fiber off the machine. If making roving or going on to spinning, the fiber is coiled into a drum on a coiler.
If you want roving, we can take the roving and ship it as is from the coiler. It comes out of the coiler can 20” wide in a circular pattern. If that is not conducive to your needs, we can but the roving into center pull bumbs.
8) Draw Frame The draw frame machine is used to further align the fibers and make the sliver as consistent as possible. The fiber that has come off the carder is run through the draw frame several times( the number of times through the machine and the combination of infeeds is dependent on the type of fiber and how the individual batch is processing.) The draw frame uses rollers that gently pulls the fibers into alignment. The initial roller is moving slower than the next roller and so on. What comes out of the draw frame is a very consistent sliver that once spun tends to be a fluffier yarn as not every single fiber is pulled into alignment. Knitters tend to like this yarn.
9) Spinning Our spin frame can spin or ply 8 threads at a time. The machine takes the individual slivers from the drafter and draws them through the machine. The machine drafts the fibers out to make the size of thread needed to make the yarn size you requested. The bobbins below the draw frame section are spinning at thousands of revolutions per minutes to make the thread sized for what you have requested. Once all the slivers are run through, we turn the machine on running the opposite direction and ply the individual threads together to make the yarn you requested in the number of ply’s you requested.
10) Putting on Cones, Skeins or Balls Once the fiber has been spun and put on the bobbins, we then take it off the bobbins and put it on cones, skeins or balls.
11) Washed skeins (Optional) Fiber that has finished the process can be washed if going into skeins or balls. This will help remove and static spray or powder or any cohesive agents(suri) that was used in the processing.
Blending This can be done at various stages. -If blending for a very uniform look and feel, we feed the fiber through the picker to make sure all the fibers are very consistent through out. -If looking for a little variation in the final product, we can blend in the carder which will give some variability in the final product. -If looking for a definite variation in the colors, we can draft at the pindrafter by processing the different colors separate and only combining at the pindrafter stage.
Dyeing We use greener shades dyes as they are a more environmentally friendly product than most dyes. We can dye the fiber after washing or we can dye the finished yarn.