A Monstrous Machine, and Shopping!

We went travelling last week – across to the other side of the North Island to Newwood Alpacas and Carding in Foxton. We admired the alpacas from a distance –


The alpacas ignored us

– but mostly we were there to learn about carding, gilling and combing, and maybe buy a little fibre (that’s an understatement).

This monster of a machine gobbles up washed fleece at one end, and out the other comes the most beautiful fibre all ready to spin. Click on the photo to get a slightly better idea of its size.


Each drum on the carder has a purpose

It was made in Oldham, England in 1893, and it has had various owners in different places since then. Alaistair and Denise had to put new carding cloth (sourced from Italy) on it when they acquired it some years ago. That must have been quite a job.

Carder working

We watched it in action, making a lovely brown fleece even more tempting

But for some of their products, that’s not the end of the story. It then goes twice through a giller, which takes a number of lengths (“ends”) of carded wool (or it could be alpaca or a blend) and stretches and combines them so that the fibres are more parallel.


The giller aligns and straightens the fibres

Next there’s combing.


The twelve ends of carded and gilled wool come in at the far end and combed “top” comes out at this end

The comb requires 12 ends (lengths) of gilled wool, which it straightens and aligns further. The fibres go through a fine comb and are pulled apart and then reunited.


The business end with the actual comb is hidden in here

In that process lots of short fibres drop out. The result is some very interesting waste.

Combing waste

Combing waste like this is generally sold for stuffing toys

But that’s not the end – the combed fibre is put through the giller one more time. The end product is easier to store, and also any combining of colours can be done at this stage.


Colours combined in the final gilling

Then we went aross to the shop, which has a very interesting feature wall.



But most of us were too interested in those bags of beautifully prepared fibre to notice much else. Finally we said goodbye and thankyou to Denise and Alaistair and loaded ourselves and our purchases onto the bus.

Onto the bus

Back onto the bus

We headed to Levin for lunch. Some of us also investigated a shop or two (we won’t mention the op shop chair that somehow found its way into a luggage compartment of the bus) and then there was a stop at DEA Yarns ‎ for more shopping.


By then someone was ready for a quiet knit (she bought some yarn first of course)

It was a really good day, and perhaps just as well that the ice-cream shop we had planned to visit on the way home was closed.


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