Today we're going to get technical and talk about something that is very important here at the Yarn Barn.
The machinery in our mill is designed specifically for spinning raw animal fibers or man-made fibers (nylon, acrylic) into yarn. The machines are capable of processing small batches down to ounces or grams, or large commercial size batches of tons. Each machine is small and modular, allowing them to be positioned in any desired configuration.
At ANF we have a ten-step process, starting with the raw fiber and finishing with commercial-grade yarn.
The first step in the process (after the fiber has been checked in, weighed, and documented) is:
Without a doubt the dustiest part of the process, tumbling is key to breaking up the raw fiber and eliminating built up dust and dirt. The tumbler rotates the yarn for 20 minutes, throwing any dirt particles out of its wire mesh walls. After 20 minutes of rotating, the fiber is removed, weighed and documented again, and sent on the next step:
Seems pretty self-explanatory right? Well there's actually a science behind washing animal fiber. As you probably know, wool felts with the right combination of heat, water, and friction. So unlike a normal washing machine, our washer soaks the fiber in hot, soapy water for about an hour, spinning occasionally to loosen any dirt or debris, and then at the end spins vigorously to drain out the dirty water. This washing process is usually done twice to ensure the fiber is completely clean and ready for the picker. After washing, the fiber is moved to:
The Drying Room.
The only way to properly dry animal fiber is to let it air dry. The drying room is kept at an even 90 degrees with a humidity point of 70%, allowing the wool to air dry in about 24 hours. Once the fiber has dried, it is weighed, placed in baskets, and sent to begin its processing at:
Where the real yarn making begins. This machine is designed to detangle the individual fibers in order to create consistency in later processing. At this stage, blending fibers (such as sheep wool, silk, Tencel, etc.) can be added to create a homogenous blend. The fibers are run through a series of picks that separate them and throw them in to a small room, where they are sprayed with conditioning oil and collected to be sent to the next step:
The De-hairer uses a series of picks to gently separate unwanted coarse guard hair, vegetable matter and other contamination from the fine fiber. The discarded materials are sent to a chamber underneath the machine, while the combed fiber is discharged from the output end and stored in containers until it is ready for:
The largest of the machines, the carder consists of several spinning wheels with varied sizes of picks and needles that are designed to align the fibers into a continuous web. The web is then rolled into roving, a long thin strand of fiber, that will later be spun into yarn. Once the roving is discharged, it is collected in barrels and sent to through:
The Draw Frame.
The Draw Frame runs the roving through rollers to create a consistent diameter throughout. The draw frame can blend multiple colored rovings into one stream to create a variegated sequence. After the fiber leaves the draw frame, it is prepared for:
The spinner is where the fiber starts to actually look like yarn. The spinner draws in the roving, and at a very fast speed, directs it through a controlled drafting system, twisting and stretching the fibers into a thin consistent stream of yarn. At this stage, the yarn size, twist per inch, and production rate are easily controlled depending on the desired outcome of the yarn (ie. different weighted yarns are spun at different frequencies). The spinner up to this point has created a single ply strand of yarn that is spun onto a bobbin and prepared for the next step:
The Plyer takes two or three singles spun on the spinner and twists them together in the opposite direction to create a counter-twist, which loosens the tension and holds the strands together. Like the spinner, there are ways to control the outcome of the yarn by changing the settings of the plyer. Once the fiber has gone through this stage, it has officially become yarn. The yarn is then wound onto bobbins and prepared for finishing touches, including skein winding, rewashing, drying, and twisting into skeins.
We take great pride in the quality of our yarn and the work that goes into customizing every skein of yarn we make here at The Yarn Barn. Come in any time the store is open and we would be happy to explain our process in more detail!
Thanks for reading and enjoy your week! Keep crafting and stay tuned next week for more from The Yarn Barn :)