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Between ewe and me, this wool is g-lamb-orous! Baaaaa none

Posted by Reneé Ettia on

Hello Yarnies <3

Last Tuesday, during our WITB box live stream, Mrs Yarnish dropped a massive surprise on us! 

Yarnish will now be stocking Nundle Woollen Mill yarn! 

If you haven't heard of Nundle Woollen Mill yarn before, then you're in for a real treat! 

On their way home from the Tamworth CraftAlive Show, Nicole and Shelby took a 1hour detour deeper into the beautiful region of New England to visit the little village of Nundle. 

Nundle, formally a gold rush town, is located 400km north from Sydney at the foot of the Great Dividing Range and it has a total population of fewer than 500 people (according to the 2016 census). It is named a 'scenic village' with historic buildings, including the Old Court House, Peel Inn, Primitive Methodist Church, as well as the Nundle Woollen Mill. 

Nundle was one of the first wool-producing regions in Australia. In the 1860s, it became famous through the UK and other parts of Europe for producing the finest merino wool in the world! The Nundle Woollen Mill maintains some of these original wool-producing practices as a way to keep the tradition alive. It is one of the last wool spinning mill of its kind still operating in Australia.  

Nicole and Shelby were super lucky to go on the Nundle Woollen Mill Tour and here's what they learned: 

From paddock to yarn bowl! An age-old practice...

The Nundle Woollen Mill (which I'm going to refer to as 'The Mill' from now on), boasts an age-old practice of 'from bale, to bobbin to beanie', with each process taking place solely in Australia. The fleece is shorn and then sold via auction in Tassie (yup, all fleece is sold by the open cry auction system and under the auctioneer's hammer!). It is then transported to Geelong where it is washed (scoured) to remove the dirt and grease, and then it’s transported by truck to Nundle. The Mill is the last woollen mill that uses greasy wool from Australia!

Also, the process they use in Geelong to scour the fleece is the last of 2 in Australia. 

 Of all sheeps and sizes...

The Mill uses some incredibly old, albeit fascinating, machinery to bring us the best quality yarn for our projects! 

Once the yarn has been delivered to The Mill and opened via The Opener Machine, the Carding Machine uses small teeth to open and mix a mass amount of wool to individual fibres. The fibres are worked into a web and any vegetable matters, such as burs, seeds, and grass, are further crushed into the wool fibres. The web is worked into a sliver and the machine further opens and mixes the fibres using smaller machine teeth to create an even finer web that is constant in both weight and evenness. 

The web is then split into 100 narrow strips then are rubbed with a false twist into slubbings, also called cheese yarn, which is then wound onto spools. 

One of the most jaw-dropping facts is that this 100-year-old machine produces over 100kms of yarn every three hours!! 

The Spinning Frame is how the yarn gains its thickness and strength. It takes the rolls of fibre from the Carding Machine and drafts and twists them together before it can be plied. 

Another amazing fact: someone has to watch all the machines while they are operating to make sure there are no faults in the yarn. This is one of the most amazing things about The Mill yarn: there are no knots! This is not a 'commercial/machine-led' operation, its run under the watchful eye of The Mill workers. So if anything goes wrong, they can respond super quick! 

We then move to the Dandy Rover which twists 3 or more threads to make a usable yarn for knitting/crochet.

Shelby messaged me while on the tour and relayed this incredible fact: 

“Ply is determined by thickness, not the number of strands”

My mind was blown! Hands up if you thought wrong! I'm not ashamed to admit that I believed that ply was the 'number of strands'... 

So, in saying that: 

3 strands make the equivalent of 4ply/fingering weight
6 strands - 8ply/DK
Hence the label “equivalent to 8ply” - my mind is now experiencing the aftershock of the initial explosion! 

The Mill also produces special bulky yarns - 20ply and 72ply! 

From here, the Hanker takes yarn from a cone/bobbin and makes it into a hank ready to be dyed.

Once dyed, the Hanks of yarn are wound into cones ready for balling. Machine knitters can also use the cones directly on their machines. Once the yarn is wound onto the cone, there are no knots. If there is a break or fault, they cut it out and it doesn’t get rejoined. Then from the cones, the yarn gets wound into balls to sell to hand knitters.

Aussie Blessings!

A sign of the world we live in, it is often cheaper for Australian yarn companies to ship their yarn overseas to be washed and packed ready to be sold back to the Australian Market. However, at The Mill, everything is done on our Aussie shores! Seeing this process through Shelby's pictures and reading about it on The Mill Website gives me a HUGE appreciation for the sheer amount of work and love which goes into each skein of yarn. 

I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I currently have English relatives staying with us. When they arrived they boasted about how the U.K. is stocking more and more Australian items, including Aussie Wool. This again made me realize how lucky we are to have such an incredible world-renowned industry right at home! Supporting the last pure Aussie Woollen Mills brings me so much joy and I hope it does for you too! 

Sheep thrills!

With all this being said, Yarnish is now stocking Nundle Wollen Mill Yarn. In so many beautiful weights and colours, there is something for everyone:

Nundle Collection - Chaffey 4ply

Nundle Collection - Chaffey 8ply

Nundle Collection - Chaffey 12ply

And there is no way in the world we could forget the chunky 20ply and 72ply yarns! These are special order, so send Nicole a message or email and we can order them for you. This also goes with the beautiful undyed hanks, ready for your very own splash of colour! 

I hope you enjoyed this post about our new friendship with The Nundle Wollen Mill! We are super happy! And so is Popcorn, who came home with a new forever-friend, Tammie <3

The wool-producing process of The Mill is super complex; I just know that I have left out some important details. So, if you want to learn more The Mill website has a complete breakdown. You can read up about it here 

Catch ewe later!

Renee

xxxx


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