If you already read how we process our wool, I think you will find interesting to also know how a traditional Romanian fiber mills operates!
During my visit to Romania from March 2016 I visited all three fiber mills that spun our yarns. I took this opportunity to learn more about the process of spinning yarns and also, I managed to make some short films of this process. I am quite sure that such old machines are hard to find in Europe or elsewhere, and documenting some of them still in function is like a trip back in time! I hope you will also enjoy taking this trip with me! Also, I apologize for the raw quality of the footage and sound. Like our yarns, these are also minimally processed :)
So where does making yarns start? It starts with washed wool. These old machines tolerate quite a lot of lanolin left on the wool, still, around 70% has to be removed. And then the fun dirty work starts! First, the fiber has to be opened. And the machine that does that is very rudimentary, loud and the air around it is very dusty! Phew! And that is exactly why one of the two brothers that run the fiber mill where I took these images has to cover his nose during work!
After several times through this machine, the fiber is open and ready to go to the drum carder. This huge machine will take the scattered fiber, will align it and transform it into huge batts. Traditionally, these huge batts are also used to make mattress toppers.
And here is how you take off such a huge bat! Looks like fun, isn't it?
The huge batts can't be spun directly, they need to go first through another machine that will pre-draft the wool. The thickness of the yarn will depend on how thick the batts are. Some other tricks are used in order to make thicker yarn. But the important thing to know is that there is no button to "tell" the machine the thickness of the yarn that you want to spin. Is all about testing and the craft of the spinner.
Next, the most impressive machine, called in Romanian "ring". This one takes the pre-drafted wool and spins it. The dexterity of the operator is amazing! I was fascinated by the lightens of hand and speed of the lady in the film! Her movements were magical! I know that I would be in great difficulty if in her place! Respect!
And the last step at the fiber mill - from spools to skeins! Each fiber mills has a bit of a different skein maker, but the principle is the same. Hypnotic, isn't it?