Open Day at The Natural Fibre Company – aka How Fleece is made into yarn and I might have added a little to my stash.

I mentioned a short while ago that I was lucky enough to visit an open day at The Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall.

Natural Fibre Company

On arrival I was directed through the offices to a gallery, above the factory floor, where I joined Lara – our tour guide, a group of ladies who love yarn, some holiday makers and lots and lots of dumpy sacks full of fleece.

Dumpy Sacks full of fleece

Lara told us that the Natural Fibre Company is a relatively small yarn mill that spins both woollen and worsted yarns and has a dye plant licensed for organic production by the Soil Association. The company also includes Blacker Yarns which market yarns and textile products made from British wool, mohair and alpaca.

Balls

The Natural Fibre Company accepts qualities as small as 20kg of fleece to process. The processing is pretty much the same as turning a fleece into yarn by hand, just bigger machines and bigger amounts.

First the fleeces are washed in the scourer, which washes the lanolin out of the wool then rinses it.

Scourer
The Scourer needs a tonne of fleece each time it runs and is a slow process since the fleece passes through in small batches.

At The Natural Fibre Company the scoured fibre is dried in an industrial tumble drier, but a larger mill would have a machine that does this. It is then put through a giant drum carder, which, just like hand carders, breaks up the clumps of fleece and aligns the fibres ready for spinning. The scoured fibre may also be blended with other fibres at the stage.

Drum Carder
The Drum Carder

After carding the fibre is woollen or worsted spun.  If you want to know the difference between woollen and worsted Sue Blacker gives a great explanation here.

The spun fibres are then plied as required.

Lara explains the plying frame.
Lara explains the plying frame.

After plying, yarn is wound into hanks, balls or onto cones.

Yarn being wound into balls
Watching balls of wool being wound
Yarn being wound into cones
Winding cones

It was wonderful to see the whole process of fleece being transformed  into yarn, but very noisy and little like being in one of those films they used to have on Playschool – showing my age here – except Lara had explained to us what the heck was going on, so it was far more fascinating.

Once Lara had patiently answered all out questions, we stampeded headed for the Bargain Baskets, full of end of line bargains, in the Blacker Yarns pop up shop .

Blacker Yarns Pop Up ShopI may have spent a little money…

Lucky enough to find fourteen ball of this gorgeous turquoise. I'm thinking a nice cable cardigan or jumper from these.
Lucky enough to find fourteen balls of this gorgeous turquoise. I’m thinking a nice cable cardigan or jumper from these.
Lovely littlest daughter will love a pair of socks from two of these. Not sure who, but someone else is going to love a pair too.
Lovely littlest daughter will love a pair of socks from two of these. Not sure who, but someone else is going to love a pair too.
I'm thinking a lacy shawl of scarf for these.
I’m thinking a lacy shawl or scarf for these beauties.
And another lovely lacy number from these.
And another lovely lacy number from these.
Not sure about these, but I'm working on it.
Not sure about these, but I’m working on it.

All in all a wonderful and interesting morning. A huge THANK YOU! to Lara for a fabulous tour and to Sue Blacker and everyone at The Natural Fibre Company for opening the doors to let us have a peek inside, for being so friendly, welcoming and informative and for making all that fabulous yarn!

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28 thoughts on “Open Day at The Natural Fibre Company – aka How Fleece is made into yarn and I might have added a little to my stash.

  1. Oh I can imagine the noise from those huge machines – you may have come out slightly hearing impaired but those bargain price yarns will have more than made up for that! Why is it I wonder that we turn into multi project yarn buying tornadoes at the sight of the stuff? I do like all your colour choices and the sound of the projects too 🙂 Happy knitting!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the ‘tour’, Bekki – it was so interesting! I also like the turquoise! Looking forward to seeing what you make with it! 🙂 (By the way, I finally got a subscribe button. Hopefully that will make things a bit easier!) Take care!

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  3. This was a very interesting post, thanks for the ‘tour’! I also love the turquoise, and look forward to seeing what you wind up making with it! 🙂 By the way, I did finally get a subscribe button! Hopefully that will make things easier. Take care and enjoy the rest of your week.

    Liked by 1 person

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