Field Trip

by Susan on June 11, 2009

Last weekend Erin and I made the eleventy million mile trip to drop our fleeces off at the mill on Prince Edward Island.

It’s very difficult to capture what the mill is like in photographs or even in video. The machinery is enormous, very loud and quite old- most of it from the late 1800s. It’s all very mechanical, in a sort of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine kind of way. 


Weighing the incoming fleeces.


This is Dale. His family has owned this mill since the 18-somethings.


I love all the old fashion equipment. No digital scale here!


The receiving area was full of fleeces coming in in all kinds of bags and boxes.




Erin is sitting here so you can see the scale. That is a mountain of fleece!


Dyed wool. The mill does custom dyeing but only in 300 pound lots of a single color.


Last time Erin and I visited the mill they were washing wool. The equipment wasn’t on on this trip but it’s still pretty interesting to see.



The yarn goes through the picker to be opened up and is blown into this room. The pile of fiber in this shot was taller than me.


After the picker, the fiber goes into this massive carder. MacAusland cards all the fiber into pencil roving. (See the video below to watch the carder in action.)


Bolts of pencil roving ready for spinning are everywhere.


The bolts of roving are put on the spinning machine here. The yarn is being spun onto the cones.


It was really neat watching the yarn wind it’s way up the cones.


Once the yarn is spun it’s put onto the ply-er. 


The plied yarn is wound onto cones.


Finished yarn.



I have know idea what this machine does but it was cool as all get out.


I love these big bins full of spindles. 



The mill also weaves 100% wool blankets (we’re having them make some for us from farm-bought fleeces)


I know nothing about weaving but it sure looks cool. I’m mostly posting these pics for Jean and Joan who do know about weaving.


Each blanket is finished by hand.

If I haven’t already bored you half to death check out the video below, shot by Erin and edited by Harry.


1 Sarah June 11, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Thank you for giving us a tour with amazing pictures. I love seeing the machines that make things. It’s so nice to see tools made to stand the test of time in this digital age. Oh and seeing all that yarn is just hot.

2 Perry June 11, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Very cool!

3 Perry June 11, 2009 at 3:28 pm

And VERY loud!

4 Benita June 11, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Absolutely fascinating! I want to visit that place!

5 Jenn June 11, 2009 at 4:01 pm

This is awesome! I love the pictures. Not at all bored! Thanks for sharing them!


6 Sara June 11, 2009 at 4:02 pm

I am fascinated by this stuff… especially the spinning from fleece to the initial singles. It can be so hard to do it by hand sometimes (even thickness, even twist) that for a machine to do it really knocks my socks off.

7 Laura June 11, 2009 at 4:51 pm

incredible tour! please get yourself checked out for flu. . .

8 April June 11, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Wow! How incredible; I love the way it looks, as if it connects us with the past via this place. How long does it take to go from fleece>roving>yarn?

Also, those blankets are amazing :)

9 Maggie June 11, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Pencil roving? Did you say pencil roving? Do we get pencil roving? Pretty please? That would be sooooooo goooooooood!

10 Joan B June 11, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Wow. What an interesting process… who knew! Thanks for the pics and the video.

11 MissMoosey June 11, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Incredible! I wish that I owned a mill!

12 Susie June 11, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing it with us!

13 Jane June 11, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Wow, thanks for sharing. It was very interesting.

14 Judi S June 11, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Boring, NOT! Very interesting and thanks for taking the time to do the photos; thanks Erin and Harry for the video.

15 Laurie June 11, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Thank you so much for sharing! Very cool.

16 Rona Thau June 11, 2009 at 7:37 pm

very impressive machines and tour
they don’t make stuff like that anymore
so cool!

17 Shelley Noble June 11, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Yummy! How cool is that! Mmmmm, wool!

18 Emily June 11, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Add some fun music and I could watch that video all day.

19 Maureen J June 11, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Very interesting video. I don’t know if I could stand the racket all day, but didn’t see anyone with ear protection, at least of the visible kind.

I have a Spring spinning share, but am fairly new at it, just with spindles so far. I’ll leave it up to more experienced spinners.
Coincidentally, just this week, in the Yahoo SpinList group, the following was posted:
I recently had my prize Romney fiber returned from a processing and carding
company. When it was returned, the fibers were much shorter than when
originally sent. They were reduced by as much as 3 inches. (From 6-7 to 2-3
inches)I called the company to question if I received the same wool back; they
explained to me that in order to make pencil roving, the fiber is run through
the carder 3 times thereby breaking some of the fibers. The wool was no longer
silk-like and white and I am hoping that after spinning and washing the wool
will return to the original state. Has anyone else had this problem or is this
the way pencil roving looks after processing?
I don’t know if this is at all common, just interesting.

20 Maureen J June 11, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Edit above, meant to say: I’ll leave it up to the experienced spinners whether to get pencil roving or not.

21 sandy (puddle duck) June 11, 2009 at 8:33 pm

neatto!!! thanks! that was a fun trip! (for me from here)

22 Judy June 11, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Fascinating video. Learned a lot. The spinning is on such a large scale. One question: how do they keep your fleece apart from other fiber farm’s produce?

23 Punkin June 11, 2009 at 8:39 pm

This is great! I really enjoyed it.

24 beecee June 11, 2009 at 8:51 pm

thank you for making the trip , taking the pictures and .uploading the video .it is so interesting to see how it all works… i hope you feel better soon.

25 turtle June 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm

very cool!!

26 Dragan June 11, 2009 at 11:28 pm

My home Morris dance team did dancing from the North Western part of England, from the mill area, and we used antique spindles for one of the dances, but for practice we used bobbins (sturdier) that look just like the ones here, glowy tape and all. I used to love the way they smelled.

27 Margaret June 12, 2009 at 1:00 am

Thanks for the pix and movie clip! We hope to visit the mill one day – it was fascinating to get a first hand glimpse of it. Mom and dad bought our sisters each a blanket for Xmas, and they are SO thick and warm – really lovely. Love how it’s all “old fashioned” machinery! Margaret and Edwina

28 Jenny June 12, 2009 at 7:38 am

Next time you go up to PEI can I come along for the road trip? I would love to see the mill and I’ve always had this dream of seeing PEI ever since I feel in love with Anne Shirley. Plus, a road trip with you two would be SO FUN.

29 Melissa Savoy June 12, 2009 at 8:01 am

I love tours like this – and since I couldn’t be there in person, this was the next best thing! Thank you SO much for sharing – it’s fascinating to see how the process works from sheep/goat to finished yarn!

30 Tiff June 12, 2009 at 10:31 am

That is so cool- I love watching the machines work in the video. SO neat to see the process of turning fiber into yarn. :D

31 Donna June 12, 2009 at 11:39 am

Not boring at all. Who thought it was boring? I loved it. My daughter and I visited a mill in Wales that went from fleece to blankets. They also had very old equipment. It doesn’t look like something you could afford to replace very often.

32 Kathleen June 12, 2009 at 2:31 pm

cool tour. Thanks so much.

33 Dina (dinaknitsinmd) June 13, 2009 at 12:06 am

When I heard about your trip to the mill, I googled it and found their website where I quickly became interested in their woven blankets. Sent an email which, sadly, bounced back. I got busy and forgot about it until just now when reading your post. Will have to remember to call on Monday. I seriously covet those blankets.

Susie, you’re killing my budget! Gorgeous colorway and of course I want the shawl kit and now this. Would you stop introducing me (enabling me) to things I’m bound to love? I’m kidding, just kidding!

34 Nigel July 28, 2009 at 6:30 pm

I was at McAusland’s a few years ago – had a great time, enjoyed meeting the owner, and bought some great yarn which I am sorry to confess, is still in a box in my basement. Must think about how I might use it some day. Thanks for the tour.

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