Friday, February 5, 2010

In the beginning

People often ask how we started in the wool processing business. I'm not really sure... actually it happened after I left a previous career as a biology instructor and got a little idea in my brain. Or should I say an idea in my little brain. Dave and I discussed the idea and decided research was the first order of business.

We visited every processing mill we could find within driving distance. I got on line and researched machines with companies on the east coast. Turns out that there were a couple of manufacturers of "cottage industry" wool mill machinery, and there was a huge amount of old industrial mill equipment-all on the east coast.

Starting small seemed the best idea. Dave, being in food processing all his working life, thought that industrial machinery would be best. We found that the big mills had a machine called a "sample card" which was a miniature (to them) carding machine on which they tested color blends in very small quantities. To us a sample card looked like a great way to get started with a small investment.
So I bought one from a dealer in Maine based on photos. It came and of course wasn't usable to produce a spinning product because it had no collection attachment for making either a batt or roving. Thank goodness for Dave's mechanical skills. He modified the little card and we were processing.


One other problem- fiber needs to be "picked" before carding. I had a hand operated picking device that proved to be very time consuming and hard on the body. In steps Dave's fabricating abilities and he built a mechanical picker. Heaven!


The next problem- too much fiber. When word got out that I was doing custom fiber processing, I had a nine month backlog within the first 2 months!
Stay tuned for more of the saga...

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