When we left off last time, we had fiber blended and carded. but the next part is where the magic really happens: actually spinning the yarn.
I can't find a picture, but when the fiber comes off the final card, there is a set of big giant rubber bands, called a rub condenser. This cuts the web into slivers and gives just a little bit of twist to the fiber, enough to keep it together as it heads into the spinning frame. This lightly twisted fiber is called "sliver" or "pin roving". The long shafts at the top of this picture have wheels of pin roving heading down into the spinning frame.
The spinning frame pulls the pin roving down, and has a set of rings and a "traveler": a little clip that runs around a bobbin putting a measured and set amount of twist into the fiber. We use different drafts and amounts of twist depending on the intended use of the yarn. Our 90/10 bison/nylon glove yarn "Earth" is a much loftier yarn than, say, our hosiery yarns, which are spun denser and tighter to take more abuse and hold up.
Here you can see bobbins of bison/merino fresh off the frame.
After the yarn is off the spinning frame, it is steamed on the bobbin to "set the twist". This keeps the yarn stable and gets it ready for twisting or plying.
Here is John checking the tensile strength of the yarn. I can't think of anyone I would rather have keeping an eye on the quality of our products.
Here yarn is taken off the bobbins and air spliced to be put on cones that can be used in machine knitting.
And now we have the finished yarn, ready to head out to our knitters.
Tomorrow, I think we might feature The Knitting Mill in Austin, TX. It is a really cool place, and a good story.
(All images used in this post were taken by Jody Horton, one of the most amazing photographers we have met, you can see some of his other work here, the guy is phenomenal).