Tumbling is the first step in the process, and don’t overlook this step! This step gets out a large amount of second cuts, dirt, and vm. This step makes it easier to wash, and makes for a cleaner end product.
The second step in processing wool is to wash it. Everyone has a different method to washing wool, and we’ve found one that works well for us. The key is HOT HOT water and a good scouring product. Greasy fibre will result in nepping, and therefore we believe washing is the most important step to good results.
Once washed and fully dried, we take the fibre to the picker, to further release vm and dirt, and to open up the locks. Picked wool is very fluffy and consistent, and makes it nice and easy to get an even feed at the carder. At this stage, conditioning oil is added to reduce any static in the fibre. Static during processing is a nuisance!
The carder takes this fluffy picked fibre and combs it out over the course of several spinning, toothed barrels, it comes off the card as a long squishy rope, called roving. Roving can be used to felt and handspin yarn, or it can be taken to the next step for making yarn on the machines.
The drawframe is next in the process of making yarn. What this does, is it takes the roving, combing it slightly more while stretching the roving. Stretching the roving means its thinner and more manageable for the spinners.
The spinners are where things really happen… Yarn! The roving is drafted (thinned out) even more by the spinner. It drafts the roving to the size of the single you want it to make and adds a twist to it. This single is fairly strong, but when plied, is even stronger.
The plier takes the singles, and twists them back on themselves. When done properly, it will produce a balanced yarn that does not twist back on itself.
The yarn is then skeined into whatever weight or length you wish, and washed to remove any oils used during the process.