Have you ever wondered just how raw wool gets turned into yarn? It's a labour intensive, exacting process tinged with a bit of magic. We are going to peel back the curtain just a bit to give you a peek into the process. We hope you find it as exciting as we do!
We love working with Canadian farmers to procure the best natural wool. We seek fibre from farmers who abide by high standards in animal care and care of the lands that they thrive on. Starting with healthy, respected, well taken care of animals is essential to the quality of the final products and ensures that your purchase is an ethically sound choice.
After the sheep are shorn and the fleeces are skirted to remove the worst of the contaminates, the next step is tumbling. Tumbling removes lots of short second cuts, dirt, and hay that skirting beforehand doesn’t get rid of. Tumbling makes washing easier and more effective.
Our washing process uses very hot water and a gentle wool scouring soap to remove lanolin and dirt without damaging the integrity of the fibre. Our method of washing has proven to be effective and delivers consistent results. We are able to recycle about 40% of our hot water used in scouring through some creative innovations.
Next, clean, air-dried wool goes to the picker. This process loosens any remaining dry dirt, dust and impurities and teases opens up the fibre’s locks. Picked wool is fluffy, consistent, and an important step in getting an even feed in the carding process (which we will discuss next). Once the wool is fully picked, conditioning oil is added. This helps reduce static. Excess static in our arid climate can negatively affect the rest of the processing and quality of the final product.
Here is where the fibre starts its journey towards becoming the yarn you are used to seeing in stores. The carder takes the picked fibre and combs it out over the course of several toothed drums spinning in perfect alignment. The fibre comes off the carder as a long squishy ‘rope’ called roving. Roving can be used 'as is' to felt, weave with, and hand spin yarn, or it can be taken to the next step for making yarn on machines.
Roving goes through the drawframe where 2 lengths of roving are combined and combed through teeth into one. This modified roving becomes thinner and the the fibres become more aligned. This improves the consistency of the roving for the spinners. Consistent roving is essential to consistent, evenly spun yarn, and so we put fibre through this machine twice to ensure the next step goes smoothly.
Spinning is a magical process by which wool transforms into yarn. The spinner thins out or "drafts" the roving even further and adds “twist” to hold it together. Simultaneously, it is wound onto bobbins. This is where the size or diameter of the finished yarn is determined, as well as what kind of qualities we want to see in the final yarn by adjusting the amount of twist.
Plying creates a stronger, balanced yarn by combining 2 or more single strands of yarn produced during the spinning phase, and twisting it together in the opposite direction. This is what makes a stable finished yarn and keeps it from untwisting itself.
The final step, “skeining”, winds the yarn from the bobbins into the desired weight or length hank. We then wash the yarn to remove any remaining dirt and conditioning oils used during the process.
We are Proud of our Yarn Process and Expertise
Rosebud River Fibre Mill aims to be the premier Alberta yarn processing facility for all your natural wool and alpaca fibre needs. We have the reputation, experience, equipment, and dedication to produce the high quality products you deserve. We are always transparent about our products and process and welcome any questions you may have.