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A week at the Spinnery

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Last week we started working on the Natural Dark color of both our Simply Fine and our Green Mountain Green yarns.  As different as these yarns appear to be in structure, they are identical in fiber content, so they can be created congruently for much of the production process. Almost like making cupcakes and a cake at the same time, we start with the same “batter”.

skeins

The ingredients for this batch of yarn includes roughly 53 pounds of fine wool with about 35 pounds of first shearing kid mohair.  To put those numbers into perspective, we estimate that a typical wool fleece weighs about seven pounds.  After cleaning and processing, we’ll end up with roughly 60 pounds of finished yarn.

The two fibers are blended by our picker and carder.  You can see it here going through our carder on the 21st.  The fibers for this yarn are GREENSPUN; which means that here at the carding stage, our special blend of organic vegetable oil and water is added to the fiber to smooth its progress through the machine.

carding

The wool we use for these yarns is a combination of fleeces from Rambouillet and Targhee sheep that are raised in Ohio and along the high plains of Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota.

The soft kid mohair comes to us from Joe David Ross in Sonora Texas.  He has supplied the Spinnery with wonderful mohair fiber for almost 30 years. (You can learn more about him and the mohair he supplies us with here).

spinning

Here you can see the roving set up on the spinning machine a few days later.  The fiber will be spun with tension to create plies that will be strong enough to knit or crochet with.

At this point the bobbins of yarn are rolled into our steambox for a three hour “sauna” that will set the twist.

 

steamed

And now the two yarns are separated to follow different paths.  The plies for our Green Mountain Green yarn are sent to the plying machine.  Here two plies will be spun together (in the opposite direction) to create the 2-ply yarn that we love.  The Simply Fine is a single ply yarn and so is ready for skeining.

gmg skeining

Here you can see the two-ply Green Mountain Green bobbins lined up on the skeining machine where we’ll wind off 120 yard hanks to be twisted into beautiful skeins.  The Simply fine bobbins are wound into skeins of about 450 yards.

The skeins are now ready for a gentle washing with mild soap which will preserve the natural sheen and resilience of the yarn. Once it has dried, it is ready to be twisted into shape and labeled for sale.  From start to finish, this batch took just about a week to produce.  We can’t wait to see what becomes of it next!

From Raw Fleece to Spun Yarn – A Tour

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

 

 

Photo by Marti Stone

At our spinning mill, in Putney, Vermont, we make thousands of pounds of yarn each year for fiber fans like you as well as for yarn shops and individual farms. Before you transform our yarn by the work of your hands, the transformation of raw fleece from flocks from Vermont, Maine and New Mexico into certified organic yarn takes place in several steps.

 

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

 

Scouring begins by soaking the fiber in very hot, soapy water using non-petroleum based soaps.  After soaking, the fiber is moved through a series of squeeze rollers and basins of hot water until it is clean. The wet fiber is place in an extractor which is much like the spin cycle on your home washing machine. After a spin and one more hot water rinse, the clean fiber is moved to an industrial dryer. The lot size, from 50 to over 300 pounds, dictates the length of time for this process.

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

The clean fiber, having been scoured, now undergoes the picking phase where the fiber locks are opened and blended. This is repeated two or three times over the whole lot. Organic spinning oil is lightly sprayed over the fibers, adding moisture to prevent the clumping of fibers as well as static electricity build up. This is the step where the different types and colors of fibers are combined according to the Spinnery’s individual recipes for our yarns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

 

Carding is the next step where the picked fiber is conveyed to a series of rotating drums that first blend the fibers into a web and then separate the web into pencil roving. This looks like yarn, but it is without twist or tensile strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

The carded pencil roving is wound onto spools which are carried to the spinning frame for the spinning stage of the yarn production. 96 roving ends are threaded onto the machine by hand.  This machine turns the roving into yarn within a few hours or several days depending on the lot size. Bobbins of the yarn are placed in the steam box for two or three hours to set the twist. The plying machine is the next stop for the yarn where again, it is threaded by hand. The Spinnery’s own plied yarns, including Maine Organic and New Mexico Organic, are 2-ply but we do produce 3-and4-ply yarns.

 

 

Photo by Green Mountain Spinnery

 

 

In the finishing department, the yarn is skeined or coned. The skeining machine winds twelve skeins at a time. The skeins are weighed, twisted and labeled by hand, ensuring that each skein is seen and felt as a final quality-control check. The combination of utilizing our venerable machinery, respect for the liveliness of the natural fibers and hands-on finishing touches, creates wonderful yarns that are ready for their next transformation into the project of your choice!

 

 

 

 

 

Order Toll Free: 1-800-321-9665

Tel: 802-387-4528

Fax: 802-387-4841

Mail: PO Box 568
Putney VT 05346-0568

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Email: spinnery@spinnery.com

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