As the photos of our machines above show, processing wool and making yarns is quite technical and we try with information sheets, emails and phone calls to explain how wool becomes a yarn. Even our information page is quite long and detailed! But we are very happy to talk through ideas, as we want to make the best for you and your wool. All the links on this blog item are set to open in separate windows so that you can follow and compare ...
We are always willing to invest the time needed by each customer to do this – we know from experience it can take several hours of thinking and discussion before both we and you know what to expect and what can be done. We would much rather do this in advance than charge you a lot of money for something which is not what you really want.
We do not see the delivery of your wool as the end of your involvement – we see the whole process to the finished result as something which can and should involve you to enable you and us to get the best possible for you.
We spend time and care, and plenty of work by hand as well as with the machines to ensure we get the quality needed and of course your fleece preparation can help a great deal with this.
Mill visits are not possible at present, so you can at least watch our video on the wool processes – from arrival to departure as a finished product there will be a minimum of 4 and may be up to 18 processes and all have to be done correctly and in the best way to suit the wool. We also have written a series called The Wool Journey on our blog and this describes in more detail what processes and wools work together and how.
If you already own sheep you will know that not all sheep are the same, and in particularly their wool varies hugely. In our last article, about starting a flock for wool, we covered the points we think are vital in getting sheep with fleeces suitable for your ambitions.
The next steps that YOU can take are:
- Good husbandry – sick sheep produce weak and poor wool
- Good and timely shearing – read our leaflet on this and don’t leave it all to the shearer or you will get what they think you deserve!
- Careful skirting – if you send us mucky fleeces with dirt, straw, hay, dye stains, leaves or which are matted at worst we will dispose of them or send them back at your expense and at best you will have a severely reduced yield and probably a poor quality result
- Careful storage – if you send us moths or rot we get rid of it pretty quickly – again at your expense.
In these times of pandemic the above should be more obvious than ever – we all need to take care not to pass on dirt, production challenges and poor fleeces as this can cause problems not just in your own batch but also those of others and also delay or damage the machines which adds to costs, time taken and stress for staff.
Then, whatever you may desire with your fleeces, you actually need to TAKE OUR ADVICE!!
If we say we cannot make a lace yarn but only an aran yarn, or that the yield will be poor, or that we need to blend your wool with other wool to get it to work as a yarn, this is because in our long experience we know this is necessary to get a result reasonably close to your objectives.
Sometimes people think they have done a great job, when we know they have not. Also most people, reasonably, tend to think they have great sheep and therefore by definition, great wool, which, sadly, is also not always the case for processing. Even after reviewing samples, this is not the same as seeing and handling the whole batch.
If the fleece has problems for processing, we will contact you and try to demonstrate what these are and explain what needs to be done. We are very willing to show you with photos, or if permitted a visit, and we can talk it through. Now that we are calling in orders, there is usually a short period between the arrival of fleeces at the mill and our first detailed inspection. So there should be a prompt notification for you, and of course we hope you will also respond promptly as otherwise we may need to delay production until things are sorted or the order revised. Also if we need to consult on an unexpected problem later in the production process, we may try urgently to get in touch, because if a batch has to be held up this affects not just the particular customer but the whole of the production timetable, which is why we sometimes have to make additional charges.
We do have a great deal of advice and guidance, regularly updated, on our Advice and Information page of The Natural Fibre Company website and we hope this will also be helpful in getting you the results you want. And of course we love to talk!