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Travel with Bennett-Watt and discover the Pendleton Woolen Mills in Salem, Oregon, where you can see the process of wool ...
spinning from start to finish.
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Visit the Pendleton Wool Factory in Oregon
Bennett-Watt: Moving west to the central part of the state, a tradition in Oregon for well over 100 years.
John Boston: We purchase our wools around the world. We purchase them from Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, United States and we’re very specific in the kinds of wool that we’re going to use in our product. We receive the wool here in 500 pound bales and then these bales we will feed in to our hopper system and feed that down, will card and spin that into the yarn that we’re going to make all our fabric with. We’ll consume around 15000 pounds of wool a week and that translates will produce that much fabric and that much merchandise out the other end.
So up above us, there are the hoppers that we seen eating the wool into the system. At this point, they were starting to break it up and we’re going to meter into the card with electronic wave pan. And then initially goes through, it’s broken up and it’s opened up, the fibers are kind of just allow that the place under the main cylinder and as the wool pass from roll to roll, it just continuous to become as it moves over the first part of the breaker. And look on there, you’re still going to see leather belts and leather pulleys and they just do a tremendous job for it. Then, it’s brought all over. It’s lined back down to a line of fibers with other fibers, so you don’t have this. They clamp going all the way through. This is kind of like shuffle on the cards. Finally, if it’s pulled off the main cylinder into a continuous web as it runs into the condenser that cut it into individual strands of roving. And that roving is gentle rolled back and forth with this row of apron on the condenser and then it’s being wound on these spools out in front here. After it’s finished the carding process and it’s on the spools, these spools are going to be moved over onto the spinning frame. At this point, the operators are going to individually tie in each one of those in and then it is setup and it’s ready to spin.
When they complete the tying in process, we’re going to come back and they’re going to doze off the spool. The full spool they need to go downstairs to be seen. There’s a close look at the roving. The fibers have been aligned. It’s been cut into an even amount that we determine the grain weight of the yarn but there’s no consistency to it. The fibers are just lined up together and when we go on to spinning, the spinning process, they’re going to insert about seven twists per inch into that roll. That’s when you’re going to create your strength and the tensile strength we need for our weaving process.
As we’ve moved forward, I think we’ve stayed very consistent with our history and quality. The craftsmanship and the quality that goes into the blanket has pretty much remained the same. The actual construction is pretty much remained the same. As we’ve involved we’ve just allowed technology to replace some of the older equipment but then again we used—you’ve seen upstairs we leave a lot that older equipment placed because we’re just going to get a bicep and it’s going to do a better job.
Once the yarns has been produced and rewound and it’s ready to go, we’ll bring it out in the mill and we’ll load it on in the trails here. At this point, as the pattern looks at it and it calls for the yarn, each one will be selected individually. It selects the color and then it’s inserted into the work material. This particular work has 3700 or 3447 in. Every one of them is monitored. If one breaks, the machine shuts off. The weaver will come around and fix it. Same with our wet material, the yarn will produce the bit breaks, the machine will stop. The weaver will come in. \ So right now, this machine is currently in 30, 250 strands of our yarn a minute into the pattern, the production pieces of fabric after they’re woven are brought in here and they’re setup and they go through an inspection process and this is called our sawing process. What the workers are doing is they’re inspecting the cloth, taking out any find defects, any faults, they see a knot, they see a broken end, they’ll saw that in back in. They’ll correct as many defects as they possibly can. This is one of the first about five quality controls stations that we do sawing to ensure that whatever fabric we’re producing is the highest quality. Then, we’ll stage it and then twice a week we ship it back to our Washougal facility and they’re going to finish the process. They’re going to go ahead and they’re going to mill it, fold it, share it, cut it into blankets, they’ll sew the bindings on it and then it will be ready for the retail store.