Big news! I'm taking the leap and having my very own Dancing Leaf Farm yarn spun. It is not from my own sheep (as I only have four at the moment) but I've thought and thought about a blend that is hopefully unique and fiber folks will like. Last week Audrey and I took a drive up to a small spinning mill in rural Pennsylvania. Audrey is my yarn advisor, as she is a much better knitter than me and knows more about the weights of yarn and its properties. Switzer's Fiber Mill is nestled into a hillside, along a creek, down a country lane.
Heather Switzer runs the mill along with her husband, cousin and a few employees/friends.
I brought finished roving (the wool had already been washed and carded) to be spun into two different weights of yarn. If one is bringing raw wool, it is first weighed...
…then washed in scalding hot water to remove the lanolin and dirt.
It's then lifted and the water drained from the fleece.
Custom made drying racks.
Look at all that clean fluff!
It's then put through a picker (which I don't have a photo of) but it basically fluffs the wool up so it's easier to put into the drum carder (pictured above). The drum carder is a series of cylinders with 'teeth' on them to align the fibers so they can made into roving.
Taking roving and making pencil roving (narrow roving).
Bins and bins of fine roving.
It is then set up on the spinning machine. Heather is setting it up now.
These are the gears that change out depending on what type of yarn you're having spun. Thickness, spin diameter, plies, all factor in to what gears are used.
Their daughter, Lily, has grown up in the mill and knows all about the machinery, what to stay away from when it's operating and what each machine does.
She even has her very own yarn winder.
To scoot around the mill easier, she can choose from any of these rides.
After the wool is spun into yarn, it can then be plied. This makes for a more even yarn for knitting. Most yarn is a two-ply.
It is then wound into skeins, ready for sale or dying.
This is the cone winder. I'm having my yarn made into skeins as that is how I dye it. I'm having a worsted weight and a sport weight spun so look for their debut at the April studio tour! I have to name the yarns yet. I try to stick to dance names (because of Dancing Leaf Farm). Any ideas?