Monday, March 8, 2010

Flying Fiber

As much as I love fiber and yarn, I've never actually felt the need to see my fiber being turned into roving or yarn. Until last week. For some reason, perhaps because I've just about cleaned out my 2009 clip and this was the last batch to be processed. I've spent a while taking several of my light colored fleeces and dying them into colors that I will have blended into multi color rovings. Almost all of it was dyed, so I called up Lydia at Gurdy Run Woolen Mill and asked her if I could come help process my fiber. She graciously agreed to let me come and process my fiber into roving. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by Cheddar her mill assistant. Here in the photo, Cheddar is taking her morning/afternoon nap.

The hardest decision was trying to decide what colors to put together. Once we did that, the fiber went through a picker. Here, Lydia is cleaning out the picker after one of the color runs to prevent too much color contamination. The picker takes the fiber and opens it up. All of the fiber goes into the machine and then is blown into a small closet in a big fluffy pile. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of that. Lets just say it seemed much bigger coming out than it did going in.

After the colors were picked, we took a break for lunch and I went outside and was greeted by Ollie. I was kind of surprised when this adorable little sheep came right up to me. Just like with alpacas, if you bottle feed a baby, they are very motivated to make friends with humans. Ollie was looking for his lunch and he had no problem telling me about it. Ollie would have come in to help us process the roving, but I suspect that he may have caused more trouble than help.

The next step was actually making the roving. Here I had to decide what colors went together best and how they would look blended together.
This is a run of fall colors that turned out beautifully. Once the fiber is placed on the belt, my only other job was to make sure it was landing in the bucket neatly and not jamming up the machine.

I know this sounds like a simple process, and thanks to Lydia, it was very simple to me. Behind the scenes, there are hours of machine adjustments, cleanings and repairs.

Here are some of the fabulous rovings that we made that day.

Spending the day with Lydia makes me appreciate her all the more. I can't say enough good about Gurdy Run Woolen Mill and the folks that run it.

If you like the look of these great rovings, you can get your hands on some by visiting the farm or by taking a look at our Etsy Store.