Spinzilla Team HSN UK Visit to wool processing mill

From a crafter's perspective, it's fascinating to see the familiar scouring and combing processes happen on an industrial scale. It's also heartening to see a large business working so ethically. They're proud of their environmental credentials, with all waste (dirt, grease, noils) going off to serve useful purposes elsewhere.

Friday's visit to Haworth Scouring Co was a 'spin-off' event from last year's Spinzilla.

The first year that the yardage competition was open worldwide (2014) I spun 'rogue' because there was no UK team. For 2015's event I registered a UK team linked to Hand Spinning News. What happened next blew me away. The team filled up within a couple of days (25 spinners max). There was such a spirit between team members during a gruelling week's spinning (the most active team forum by a long margin) and we ended up coming seventh out of around 70 teams worldwide, all of us meeting the 'monster mile' and a grand total of 146,336 yards or 83.15 miles.

Martin Curtis of Curtis Wools Direct / Haworth Scouring Co sponsored our effort by providing real Shetland top for us to spin,

He very kindly also offered us a tour of his mill. Besides being a fascinating day, it was the first time that many team members had met in person!

We saw fleeces being opened up, shaken out and then being passed through a number of tanks of detergent.

The mill also has a combing plant, turning the snowy-clean fleece into beautiful squishy top for spinning. I gather that most of this goes to the carpet industry; wool carpet being more environmentally-friendly, healthy, comfortable, non-compacting and not necesarily more expensive than synthetic fibres. Some of the wool goes to make garments and the noils (shorter fibres) into bedding.

Longdrawjames and Freyalyn testing the wool by twisting small amounts between their fingers. There was a funny moment when Martin did the same and looked around expectantly. "Usually when I do this, people are impressed", he said "...but you lot being hand spinners, I can see that you're not...."

potamousse's other half took this excellent picture of the team, or most of those that were present, with our Spinzilla team pinnies.

We had the opportunity to buy some real Shetland top and other fibres. I'd gone intending to buy more of the white to spin, dye and weave into a tartan blanket-scarf. However, after seeing how the natural fibres look when woven, I chose a selection of natural colours.

For the genuine 'real Shetland', contact Martin's son Adam of the Real Shetland Company. They're not really geared up to supply smaller amounts for hand spinning, but depending on what you want, Adam may be able to help or to pass you onto a retailer.


Freyalyn said...

It was a fabulous day - so glad I was there.Nicely written by you.

peahen said...

Thanks Freyalyn. It was a great day and it was very good to meet you & Mark in a less busy environment than the woolly shows.

The Sassy Spinner said...

Looks like you all had a great day, wish I could have been there, but your photos bring your visit to life - thank you!