Raw Wool Hits the Road
Raw wool transforms into wondrous things:
- Roving for weaving and spinning and needle-felting and stuffing
- Pure wool yarn – which can then become toys and sweaters and …
- Blankets and throws and lap robes
Our shearing story describes how it gets from the sheep to the big burlap bags for storage.
Here’s how raw wool travels from the farm to be processed at the traditional woollen mill in Prince Edward Island.
The bags weigh about 150 lbs when well packed, and are stored in the shearing area, upstairs in the barn. Three or four men load them onto a farm wagon hitched to a tractor. (No large tractor-trailers can cross on our ferry, so we haul them to the mainland).
This year we had over 5600 lbs of clean wool. Our sheep are pasture raised, so they grow more, longer-stapled wool to stay warm, and it’s cleaner as they don’t hang around in barns. The sheep are mainly North-Country Cheviot and Suffolk so the staple for weavers is similar to Corriedale.
The raw wool hits the ‘high seas’ crossing on the ferry.
We co-ordinate with the tractor trailer driver for timing. He’ll leave an empty, clean trailer for us to fill. (We’ve had adventures in the past with unwashed potato or cattle trucks heading back east, or drivers who gave us 15 minutes notice when we’re two hours away). We plan for a time when we aren’t taking too much space from our neighbours going to the mainland.
We haul the raw wool bags off the wagons and into the tractor trailer box. Ian loves the sight of those doors closing and calling the driver for pickup.
The mill uses only soap, no harsh chemicals so we are confident that the products that are produced for us, from our wool and others, will be the softest most hypoallergenic quality available.