We are announcing a new series of yarns we will be creating in small runs every two weeks we hope. We will be posting a video of the process of making the yarn to show all of the stages it goes through to get to you. We have already made some super duper cool color changing yarns that have been well received at three events this spring. We have incorporated some merino on one yarn and now we have added some alpaca to our bamboo blended yarns. Of course we will always have our 100% bamboo yarns in various styles and colors.
In step one I have to load the drafter. I am always so excited as I watch the fiber get drafted the first pass on our Warner & Swasey M3680 pin drafter. What a sweet old machine this is. After I get the roving just right we can then take this to the with spinner. We are looking for a roving between 10 and 20 grams per 10 yards. I have had some thicker roving that needed some extra drafting at the spinner that came out great though. I also have to decide if we are making color changing singles, solid colors or my next attempt at some partially blended to give a more variegated yarn. If our humidity is good this is a simple process and it is just a matter of how many passes through the drafter it will take to get the right weight consistency. I wonder what comes next.
At step 2 I move the stack of roving in small stacks to the wonderful classic sample spinner. This machine has been upgraded with the White Ozark 2.0 modernization kit. These upgrades allow the operator, which is me, to dial in the exact spin and twist we choose for the single on the fly. No gear changing no there is a modern concept. With three variable speed motor controls I have incredible power and I have used this power wisely so far.
We try to run a short sample before full production to make sure that I have a good twist to make the right single Fiberlady is wanting. I take this sample to her and she gives it her special tests and then gives me her feedback. If it is ok I then proceed to get the spinner going, but if it needs to be adjusted the White Ozark grants me the power to quickly change the settings and shazam I have got the required settings. Now again the humidity has to be around 50% or better and then the fun begins. The singles start to fill the bobbins and you get a first glimpse of what the yarn will look like. Many times I let out a 'Wowee Kazowee'. This phrase is used only in certain life events. Use it wisely. I even run the 30 feet to Fiberlady's office and say come hither to see the new yarn.
Step three involves the L. Rogan twister. This machine also received the White Ozark 2.0 upgrade. Now it is known simply as Mister Twister. I now take the singles, coming from the spinner on colorful bobbins, on a long long journey over to Mister Twister. This is where it has been decided whether we want a lace weight 2-ply yarn or we have gone up to a worsted weight with several plied singles. The first few test runs have been 3 ply and in the range of fingering to sport weight yarn. This new yarn is now twisted on to some nice even more impressive bobbins with the hopes of getting at least 5 skeins off of each without any breaks. I will run these singles until I cannot make anymore of the required yarn, but there may some leftover singles that I will use later in "top secret" projects that I only know about. These will create some super special one-of-a-kind skeins of yarn that I will put out on the sales floor, give to helpers, or give to Fiberlady on special occasions or donate for door prizes. We leave no fiber undone. There is no wasted fiber at Fiberlady of I can help it. See blue fuzz tub in lower right of above picture .
Now is time for you guessed it step 4. This is where I integrate into this dance a rugged Singer Skein reeler to skein the hanks to Fiberlady's predetermined size. This is the last machine to receive the White Ozark 2.0 upgrade. This is first time I get to see the yarn truly in its full glory. The yarn on the bobbins always look great, but the hank for some reason just gives a different look to me. Now at this point also I have to estimate with my incredible math skills honed by intense algebra classes at Wichita Falls High School and some more detailed studies at Midwestern State University and of course life experiences to get the right amount of turns to get the usual 4 ounces or 100 grams depending on Fiberlady's request. I will then test one skein to make sure my estimations are correct and then proceed to finish the run of yarn hank production. I have to admit that even when my calculations are correct I have to remember to tell the Singer to stop at the precise moment my calculation has deemed. There are various large skeins around the mill that need good homes. These normally end up being a bonus to some lucky knitter or crochet artist. I cannot forget the weavers either. It is uncanny how guests of the mill can seek these out without any prompting at all.
Ok, step 5 is where we like to soak them in water. We can better set the twist, soften singles and it can remove any oils, which we use almost none. This simple step always makes a nice little difference in feel of the yarn. Then with my trusty 3 foot drying rack I move them outside into the Texas sun and wind to complete the entire process. It is always fun to see the skeins moving in the wind as you pull up to the mill.
Now it is up to me to come up with labeling and a name. Sometimes this is easy and other times I cannot come up with a name and sit, with a blank face, until it comes to me or of course Fiberlady has a name in mind.
With a finished yarn I now need it to be taken for a test drive as I do not knit or crochet at this point. So who can I find to test it out........