Here are some observations from my tour on beautiful Whidbey Island with Alan at Abundant Earth Fiber Mill. Alan was very friendly and helpful. They have a cute front-end store where they display their wool yarn, roving, and dye packets.
In the back, they had three rooms. The furthest in the back was the cleaning and sorting room. The washing is done in traditional top-load washing machines with the agitator taken out. She uses plain laundry soap to wash the wool. They get their wool from local farmers in Washington State, and in Oregon. They also ship in Merino wool from the east coast. This they blend together to make a stunning yarn or roving.
They dye three main colors you see on the racks. Then when they are carding, they mix it with the white merino to create softer tones and colors. This shows the skirting table and along to the right and the back are the drying racks. Bags of future projects are stuffed around in the corners just like at my house! Check out this beautiful roving I picked out for my youngest daughters.
The carding machines and the spinning machines are pretty large. The picker is the first machine I would love to acquire. It would be great NOT to pick by hand. They clean many fleeces in one day, as opposed to our slow going one a week. The wool is gently pushed into this machine where it pulls the fiber apart and blows matter free from the wool.
The carding machine has a handy gadget that makes a very rough and thick roving for the first time. The next machine is another carding machine that works the roving into a smoother, thinner bat. The second machine really brings in some of the smoothness and brushes the fibers down upon one-another, making a beautiful, downy rove. The second machine in a video that I will post later
The next are machines that work with the skeins. The first is a mechanical niddy-noddy that makes my hands and arms feel very happy. My arms ache winding niddy- noddys. This next machine winds the three plys together without spinning them together. It will spin them together on one of their huge spinning machines.
The spinning machines are huge. They use one for plying single thread, and a second to ply the three together. You can see in the first picture, the roving being spun into the first ply of yarn.
The end result is lovely yarn. Thank you so much, Alan, for the tour and the learning experience. I had a wonderful time!
Check out www.abundantearthfiber.com and buy some beautiful yarn!