Monday, August 16, 2010

AAaaaaahhhhh ... summer

I can't believe it's been six days since I posted! And I think I promised a glimpse into Vancouver Island's only fibre mill, which I had the privilege of touring two weeks ago. Owned by Anna, the entire operation is housed in a Quonset hut on her property north of Qualicum Beach -- she showed me this photo of the first 'rung' when the hut was being built...

That was almost four years ago, when she bought the mill and trucked the equipment up-Island from Crofton.

Anna said the first thing that happens when people bring fibre to her is that it gets 'registered,' so to speak, so that she can identify each individual order all the way through the process.

A 'project card' is completed for each order, and then it is weighed...

... and bagged....

... and then washed -- there are eight sinks along small section of wall, but I arrived too late in the day to see the washing.

Then the fleece is laid out to dry, sometimes with the help of a giant heater or two...

There's only Anna, and only one way through the process, so from this point on, the work takes a lot of time - that's why, when you take a fleece to a mill, it may take weeks to get it back. It gets processed in order....

The next step is carding, and Anna's machine is an amazing creature, built in the 1870s in Philadelphia. Standing about eight feet high and with about a badillion moving parts, it's amazing to watch -- you'll hear my one-word comment at the end of this little movie that about describes it all!
How cool is THAT?

But we're not done yet ... if you want even nicer fibre for spinning, that roving still needs to take a little trip through the pin drafter -- a machine that's only 50 or so years old! In Anna's words, the pin drafter 'combs and attenuates the roving', making it more compact to store and easier to spin because it will 'feed out' better.

Finally, if you want Anna to spin your yarn, this machine can spin 14 cones at once!

Until I get Anna's website up and running, you can reach her at annarunn at telus dot net (you know the drill)!

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