Dec 1

Yesterday, Sandy and I left dark and early to go to Ohio Valley Natural Fibers in Sardinia, Ohio.  This is a bit over 3 hours away and the drive was pleasant.  We had the back of Bettie full of 13 bags with 16 fleeces total in it to take to be processed by Ginny Ferguson and her crew.  Also, we had 14 processed fleeces to bring home.  I’ll get these fibers up in the shop as soon as possible – maybe in the next week or so.  We brought home some lovely fiber including BFL, Bond, a sweet Teeswater/Cotswold cross, Dorset and many others.

While we were there, Ginny took us around and showed us the set up.  I took lots of pictures.  This is how they process wool into yarn.

First they wash it, but they do that at a separate building and we didn’t get to see that.  Having washed as many fleeces as I have, I didn’t need to see another huge tub full of wet wool. 🙂



This is the picking machine.  The washed wool goes through this to be pulled apart and to remove as much hay and debris as possible.

1st carding machines

The picked and clean wool goes into the first carding machine (the one on the right) and is passed through ever finer carding cloths.

close up of carding rollers

Here is a close up of the carding cloth covered rollers.  It looks much like a drum carder on steroids, doesn’t it?

carding rollers with fiber

And here is a close up of rollers with wool on there where it is in the process of carding the wool.  I really had to hold myself back from toughing that soft looking wool.

splitting for pencil roving

If you want your wool spun into yarn, then from that last machine, the wool sheet goes into this machine.  Here the wool is separated into little sections, which are moved along with each section on its own little conveyor belt to the next stage.

pencil roving machine

Once it goes into the back as thin sheets of wool, it is rolled gently into pencil roving and wound onto spools ready to be spun.

spools of pencil roving ready to spin

Spools of pencil roving ready to be spun.

spinning into singles

This spinning machine can spin 96 cones of singles at one time.  I have seen these machines in use on videos on YouTube.  They are fascinating to watch in action.

Most of the machines you have seen so far are from the early 1900’s and are still in use.  I assume as larger mills upgrade their equipment with the advance of technology, then smaller mills such as Ohio Valley can purchase their old machines and keep them in use for smaller-scale production. Isn’t it great to see these old machines still in use and not in some junk pile?

plying machine

Ginny said this machine is one of their newer ones and it dates from the 1960’s – so it is about the same age as I am.  It plies the singles and can produce 2, 3, 4 or even 5 ply yarns.

coning machine

This machine cones up the yarn between steps.  Customers can have their finished yarn made into cones or into skeins, their choice.  As a weaver, those cones would be very handy.

Sandy and I are scheduled to head back over there in February to pick up the clean and processed bags of fiber that we took.  Knowing what is in there, I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

I hope your Thanksgiving weekend has been as nice as mine as been.