Well, it all starts with the fleeces, from our own sheep and other suppliers. We grade, sort and weigh these ourselves, essentially separating into qualities and colours, and compressing it into huge blocks of wool, which are weighed and sent to Yorkshire for scouring and spinning. There, the debris in the fleeces will be removed, as well as the lanolin, the wool wax or wool grease you find on sheep, which protects the wool but is not really suitable for machine weaving. Lanolin can be made into all sorts of products, including beauty creams, and is re-usable. The wool then goes through spinning (using Victorian or modern machinery depending on its ultimate use) and this comes back to us in large cones.
We then get on with designing, based on ready weaving set-ups or new ideas, and write what is called a “ticket”: essentially each piece of fabric or wool we produce has an instruction list or recipe as to how to create it. This works out how much yarn is needed and is calculated in weight as all yarn is sold based on its weight.
We select cones of each colour listed in the ticket and put them up on the creel. From there we draw the yarn ,as set out in the design , onto our 1920’s sectional warping mill.
We wind the yarn in sections and once the whole warp is complete it is wound on to a beam all ready to be taken to the loom.
It takes up to three days to set up a loom for a new pattern (or getting “new gear” on) so we tend to make it last. It is fiddly and exhaustive work. Once this is in place, if you are weaving a pattern with the same thread as a previous project, you can tie in the old and the new threads together.
After checking for even distribution of the yarn in line with the pattern density, off you go, the loom goes into action, slowly, meticulously and surely. We keep a close eye on the weave and adjust as required to ensure a tight grip on quality. The finished product after weaving is always carefully checks for any details and mended by hand with a length of yarn. Again, we take our time with this, to maintain an excellent and consistent quality finish.