We make recycled wool blankets using offcuts from the factory floor – but how do we actually do that? Currently some of our Australian-made recycled blankets are made in a mill in Tasmania, which spins and weaves fine blankets made from alpaca, mohair and wool. It's the by-product from this process we use to make our blankets. Here's how it works.
1. Collection: offcuts are collected from the factory floor and old Seljak Brand blankets are returned
As the mill produces blankets for their customers, the technicians collect 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. We also facilitate the return of Seljak Brand blankets that people no longer want any more.
2. Shredding: offcuts get shredded
These offcuts and old blankets are ripped up in an industrial ragging machine into many small fibres of consistent size and shape.
3. Carding: shredded fibres are carded
Then, the carding machine cleans and makes all the fibres parallel in preparation for spinning into yarn.
4. Spinning: carded fibres are spun
Spinning is essentially twisting fibres together. Because a strong yarn needs long fibres bound together, a small amount of polyester is included so that the short recycled fibres have something to grab on to.
5. Dyeing: introducing colour!
To introduce colour, blankets are either dyed after they are woven, or beforehand as hanks of yarn from the spools.
6. Weaving: yarn is woven
The looms are operated by highly skilled weavers who know how to perfect the tension (so that the final blankets aren't "tighter" in some places than others) to create an even surface.
7. Milling: woven fabric is milled
This is a washing process to felt and tighten the weave of the fabric, where the blankets get whipped around big cylinders over and over again. Wool fibres have many tiny teeth that lock closer and closer together with warm water and friction. Milling also determines the width of the fabric as it shrinks.
8. Finishing: final touches are applied
After the recycled blankets are milled and dried they are finished with whipstitching or fringing. Then the labels are applied and the blankets sent to our warehouse for distribution.
But it doesn't end there! Our care instructions are provided to extend the life of your blanket. When you are finished with your blanket, you can return it to us free of charge and we can re-manufacture it: 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' – 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.
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