Currently our recycled blankets are made at the same mill that the offcuts are produced. Other than our blankets, the mill spins and weaves fine wool blankets for their clients and customers. These are made from blends of virgin fibres such as merino, lamb's wool, alpaca, cotton and mohair. As the other blankets are produced, the mill collects the offcuts from the production process. This might be from the spinning or weaving stage, and can be from overruns, trimmings and scraps that aren't part of the final product.
Bales of offcuts ready to be shredded
These offcuts are shredded in an industrial shredding machine into many small fibres of consistent size and shape. Then, the carding machine cleans and makes parallel all of the fibres in preparation for spinning into yarn.
Because a strong yarn needs long fibres bound together, our recycled yarn is spun with with a small amount of polyester so that the short recycled fibres have something to grab on to.
Karina inspecting the spinning machine at the mill
The yarn is then spun onto spools, before it is used to weave blankets on large, industrial machine looms.
Spools of yarn ready to be woven into blankets at the mill
The looms are operated by highly skilled weavers who know how to perfect the tension (so that the final blanket is not "tighter" in some places than others) to create an even surface. To introduce colour, blankets are either dyed after they are woven, or beforehand as hanks of yarn from the spools.
Yarn on the loom getting woven into blankets
After the recycled blankets are woven they are finished at the mill with labels and stitching or fringing, and sent to our warehouse for distribution.
Voilà! A an extremely cosy and warm blanket that, if cared for, can last a lifetime.
And it doesn't end there! When you are finished with your blanket, you can return it to us free of charge and we can re-manufacture it by adding it to the ragging machine with the other offcuts to be spun into new yarn and woven into new blankets. That's what we mean by 'closed loop', where the same resources are cycled through the same process to offer a useful product with little to no waste, and of equal or higher value.
For a step-by-step breakdown and video of the recycling process, see here.