A few weeks ago, Colene, Rose, and I took about 200lbs of Merck’s raw (unprocessed) wool to Green Mountain Spinnery (GMS) in Putney, Vermont. The raw wool, which consisted of several bags of creamy white and several more of dark brown and black wool, is being cleaned and spun into beautiful yarn, which will be available for sale at the Visitor Center later this year.
While we were at the spinnery, the GMS folks were kind enough to offer a tour of the place, which we apprentices enjoyed thoroughly. From the minute we walked in the door, the distinct smells of lanolin and wool welcomed us, making sure we knew that we were at The Spinnery. In the background, machines pumped away at their work, steam drifting by dreamily, and smiling faces greeted us around every corner. Everyone was more than happy to explain their task at hand.
The process of turning fleece into yarn consists multiple steps. First, the wool is weighed. The weighing is then followed by a good cleaning, also called scouring, where the fibers’s natural oil, lanolin, is removed along with any debris. Once the wool is clean and dry, it is carded, blended, and then spun into the yarn skeins you’ll find at Merck.
The whole process at the Spinnery is done by a mixture of modern and antique machines that GMS has picked up along the way. The mammoth machinery immediately date themselves in a very romantic way, pairing wood and steel and modeling the designs of yesteryear. I personally very much enjoyed inspecting the various machines and could easily envision their former lives in early industrial America. They certainly have been adopted to an excellent new home, where they’ll keep producing useful and beautiful yarn.
The tour concluded in the shop of the Spinnery, where we were surrounded by a rainbow of skeins, knitted goods, books, and knitting needles.
I am excited to receive the processed Merck yarn and turn my inspirations from GMS into something tangible (and warm!). It was very cool to see the journey from fleece to yarn.
Thank you Green Mountain Spinnery!
PS: to learn more about Green Mountain Spinnery, visit their website: http://www.spinnery.com/