Mad River Fiber Arts is a full service fiber processing mini mill. Our brand new equipment is manufactured by Belfast Mini Mills, in Prince Edward Island, Canada. We can handle your raw fiber from washing through yarn and every step in between. We process all wool types, fine wools such as Merino, Cormo and Rambouillet to courser wools such as Icelandic Lopi, alpaca, llama, mohair and angora bunny. Sorry, we do not process pet hair or CVM.
The carder is considered the heart of the mill. If washing, drying, picking, conditioning and fiber separating have been done well the fiber will literally glide through the carder to create beautiful roving, batts or bumps. The carder will also blend fibers thoroughly, drop any additional vegetable matter and short fibers. If you are a handspinner or felter you may choose to have roving or bumps made from your fiber, otherwise, let’s move onto spinning.
If you want your fiber spun into yarn we move onto the Drawframe. The Drawframe takes the roving from the carder runs it through a series of rollers which attenuate and combine the rovings to produce a smooth and consistent roving ready for spinning.
Not much too the drying racks. All fiber is air dried on its own shelf, which takes about 24 hours.
The fiber separator is a key machine in the process, albeit one of the slowest. The purpose of the fiber separator is to take the now “teased and conditioned” fiber from the picker and continue to pull apart the fibers into a fluffier and fluffier mass. During this process additional vegetable matter and short ends are dropped out of the fiber (into the waste bin) and what’s left is a clean billow of fiber. The number of times a batch goes through the fiber separator depends on how much vegetable matter is present. Most of the time, two passes does the trick.
Let’s walk through the fiber processing process:
The picker begins the process of preparing the fiber to be made into roving or yarn. In order to do this the fiber needs to be “teased” apart not only so it drops out vegetable matter and short fibers but also so it is open enough to accept the spinning conditioner. Conditioner is vital to controlling static as the fiber moves from machine to machine. If static is present the fibers will fly around the machine, not stay together and be impossible to spin or make into roving.
Spinner & Plyer
At Mad River Fiber Arts & Mill we have a twelve bobbin spinner. One of the first we are told by Belfast Mini Mills. This greatly increases our productivity and makes handling large orders more efficient. The plyer is a smaller version of the spinner and allows us to ply at the same time we are spinning singles. The plyer can handle any number of plys, cables or other funky combinations one might think of. We can spin lace weight to bulky.
We specialize in the Lopi style of spinning which typically is used with Icelandic fiber.
We are able to spin fiber lengths between 3 and 6 ½ inches in length. We do not cut fibers. If your fibers are too short, we suggest lengthening the time between shearings. If they are longer we suggest you shear twice a year.
Steaming & Cone Winder
The steamer and cone winder complete the process. The yarn is run through the steamer to set the twist and is packaged on a cone.
Skein winding services are available. Please ask.
Tumbling and Washing
This pricing is based on intake weight. In other words, the weight of the fiber when you bring it to us. When you bring your fiber it’s important that it is “skirted” properly. What does that mean? Briefly, it means all undesirable parts of the fleece or blanket have been removed. For more detail information please see “Skirting” under Resources.
Our Tumbler is unique to Belfast Mini Mills. It’s like a big BINGO or RAFFLE tumbler. This machine makes washing more efficient by very gently tumbling raw fiber and dropping out loose dirt, short ends, vegetable matter and other undesirables.
Once tumbled the fiber goes to the washer. We have the capacity to wash nine (9) pounds per load. We use an environmentally friendly soap manufactured in Warwick, RI. Each load takes about one hour to complete. Typically, it takes two washes and several rinses to clean to our “dip” test specifications. There is an additional charge for extra greasy or dirty fleeces, including a skirting services. We will discuss this with your prior to proceeding.