Each product we make has a slightly different path through the mill. After sourcing the best quality raw materials for each woollen product we go through the following steps.
1. After blending and conditioning our scoured loose wool we add water and lubricant to reduce friction and the formation of static.
2. This fibre then goes through our carding machine which aligns the fibres, removes any remaining contaminants, forms a continuous web and produces strands of rovings in readiness for spinning.
3. The woollen roving now enters the drafting zone of the spinning machine. It is slightly drafted (making fibres more parallel) and then enters the twisting zone where a predetermined amount of twist is inserted to produce the yarn at the required twist and weight for each product.
4. After spinning the yarn is respun onto suitable packages/cones for the next step. When a dyed yarn is required the yarn is taken off the cones and made into hanks which are dyed in a dye bath in that form and then dried and rewound onto suitable cones.
5. Prior to weaving, the warp yarns are prepared and assembled in a parallel manner. This preparation stage is known as warping, and is carried out on a machine known as a warping machine. Ours is a sectional warp. Firstly the warp yarns are fed from a creel, and wrapped in small sections around a rotating taped drum, and then from the drum they are unwound and transferred to a beam, which fits directly onto the loom.
6. Weaving is the next step and this involves using a loom to interlace two sets of threads at right angles to each other: the warp which runs longitudinally and the weft that crosses it. Different types of looms can be used to weave woollen fabrics. Our looms are Dobby looms which means they use Dobby card as a type of pattern telling the loom which shafts to move.
7. The woven fabric then undergoes wet finishing or milling which makes the fabric dimensionally stable and also removes any contaminants or additives which may have been added during manufacturing.
8. If the fabric is to be piece dyed eg. a solid colour, the next step in dyeing. The whole roll of fabric is passed through a dye bath.
9. After dyeing the fabric goes through the dry finishing stages. For woollen fabric tentering stretches the fabric width under tension by the use of a tenter frame, consisting of chains fitted with pins or clips to hold the selvages of the fabric, and travelling on tracks. As the fabric passes through the heated chamber, creases and wrinkles are removed, the weave is straightened, and the fabric is dried to its final size. Brushing/Raising - usually accomplished by bristle-covered rollers. The process is used to remove loose threads and short fibre ends from smooth-surfaced fabrics and also used to raise a nap on woven fabrics.
10. If the fabric has been woven to include fringes it will then pass to the fringing machine. If not it goes directly to the next step.
11. Inspection. Each fabric is inspected on an inspection frame which looks a bit like a giant xray viewing box. If any flaws are found they are marked for the attention of the making-up team.
12. Fabrics are cut to size depending on the required final product. They are then sewn, labelled, folded and packed.