Most people don't know how many steps it takes to go from raw fiber to a finished skein of yarn at the commercial level. Not only is the capital equipment to start up this type of business expensive, the actual manufacturing is time consuming.
We recently visited the Arizona Fiber Mill, LLC, a family owned business, located in Prescott Valley, Arizona. AFM uses state of the art textile equipment (Made in the USA) and they are the first and only natural fiber mill in Arizona.
We thought we would share with you some of the pictures from our visit.
The first step is sorting the raw fiber. Not only are they sorting out foreign material, but they are removing any fiber that is less than 3.5 inches (if the short pieces are not removed they create noils or beads in the material later on in the process).
After sorting, the fiber is washed and then dried.
After drying the fiber, it goes through a Picker. The Picker teases (opens and separates) the fiber and blows the fluffy fiber into an enclosed room.
After the fiber has been picked, it is put through a series of steps called carding. The machine's drums comb the fibers many times by transferring it back and forth from one drum to the other as it is passed down the series of drums.
(The carding machine below is similar to but is NOT the one they have at Arizona Fiber Mill.)
The final step in the carding process divides the fiber into small strips called pencil rovings. These are collected on large spools on the end of the card. These spools of pencil roving will be placed on the spinning frame to make yarn.
The roving as it comes off the card has no twist. The spinning machine will
put the actual twist on the roving and turn it into yarn (see the wooden bobbins).
When the bobbins are full of yarn, they are put into skeins.
The finished product is wonder skeins of yarn (alpaca in this case).
It was fascinating to see the time, effort and love that goes into processing raw fiber into to yarn. We hope at some point in the future to set up a field trip to the Arizona Fiber Mill for those who would like to see the process in person.
We want to thank Rita for being such a great host and wish her the best in running Arizona Fiber Mill.