Taking Raw Wool to Fine Yarn...Not a Simple Process

The spinner at Mountain Meadow Wool Mill

Clean wool goes through quite a process to get to its final destination- yarn. The first stop is the carder. The carder is a large drum lined with very fine wires which act like a brush taking the loose wool and converting it into "sliver" (rhyming with "diver"). The fibers form an interlocking web. We can card about 30lbs of clean wool per hour.

From the carder, the sliver is moved through the pin-drafter. The pin-drafter has rows and rows of pins which look like a hair comb and work to pull individual fibers apart to align them more parallel. The sliver requires 5 or more passes before it is ready to move onto the next step. Each pass works just like a hair comb to smooth and straighten the fibers. We also use our pin-drafter machines to blend wool with silk, bamboo viscose, Tencel, nylon, and other fibers.

After the pin-drafter, most of the sliver moves to the comb. The comb mechanically removes everything less than an inch long. The removed fiber is called noil and is used as the core of our wool dryer balls. The resulting pin-drafted fiber is luxurious and smooth and referred to as Combed Top. The combing process is what makes a "worsted" product and is why we are a "worsted" mill. According to the Internation Wool Textile Organization, the worsted processing system requires long staple fibers to produce very fine yarns, which can be woven to make extremely smooth and lightweight fabrics. Worsted-spun knitted fabrics are super-soft, incredibly versatile knits. In contrast, the woolen processing system has fewer steps and uses less fine wool. Woollen spun woven fabrics are thicker and heavier and used mostly for outerwear, rugs, or saddle blankets. Here at Mountain Meadow Wool Mill, our Mountain Merino yarn and apparel is spun using a 3-4" staple length and averaging 20.5 microns creating the soft, luxurious feel that you have come to know and love from Mountain Meadow Wool. Some of our fibers do not go through the comb, like the bison for Tatanka and some long-wool breeds like Churro.

Now the Combed Top is ready to be spun and so it makes its way to the spinner. The fiber is pulled apart to make it thinner and then twist is added to hold the fibers together as yarn. The spinner produces a single strand of yarn and then we ply, or twist, them together to create 2, 3, or more plies in a finished yarn. Our natural Tweeds are created by plying together different natural colors of spun singles. Our spinner spins 1.8 million feet of yarn each day which is equivalent to about 340 miles every day!

As you can see, making yarn is an involved process! We are so grateful to our amazing employees who make this process happen so seamlessly. They must have keen eyes to catch small issues before they snowball into something major. They are good troubleshooters and are often having to fabricate small parts. Thank you, Yarn Makers, for all your hard work!

Mountain Meadow Wool's relationship with our supplying ranchers gives us a unique ability to trace our yarn and apparel directly back to the ranch that it originated from. As you work the yarn between your fingers or slide into your cozy hoodie, you can picture the ranch of the Mountain West that it came from, having your opportunity to "Touch the West."

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