I would love to share more information with you about our Recycled Wool process.
1. Import pre-loved woollen garments.
Thousands of tonnes of pre-loved garments are sent to India each month from around the world.
Every month thousands of tonnes of pre-loved woolen garments are imported to India, the global garments recycling capital. Most of the world's unwanted garments are sent here to be processed. Over the last few years they have seen a massive increase in the amount of unwanted garments arriving, as a result of fast fashion and the throw away society we have created. The industry supports the city with a huge number of residents employed. We love to say the garments go from go from "pre-loved to re-loved".
"Visiting the factory and seeing the vast amount of unwanted textile waste being thrown away made me proud that we are doing something amazing by weaving them up into our beautiful blankets," Claire Sutherland, our TBCo. Buyer.
2. Sort by fibre, then colour. All sorted by hand.
The garments are removed from the bales they arrive in and are sorted into large piles of colours such as black, grey, white, blue etc, then further sorted into shades of each colour group, for example navy, royal blue, light blue etc.
3. Wash and dry in the Indian sun.
The garments are then washed with wool detergent to clean the fibres. The garments are then laid out on the rooftops of the factories to dry naturally in the hot Indian sun!
4. Remove all embellishments like zippers and buttons by hand.
Women meticulously remove all embellishments, trims, zips and buttons by hand so that they are left with only the woolen parts of the garment.
5. Dye if the colour needs enhancing with safe, AZO-free dyes.
The next step is to dye the garments, if needed. Because the quantity of black, grey and white woollen textiles that are imported is much higher than brighter colours such as orange and pink for example, these colours are often left undyed. By skipping the dying process for colours that do not need it, it helps keep the fibres long and strong, plus it saves on water and energy that would otherwise be used in the dying process. If we do need to use dyes, we ensure all of our dyes are AZO free acid dyes, which are very safe and most commonly used to dye woolen textiles as they give a vibrant, long lasting finish!
6. Tear textiles into stripes by hand.
The dyed or undyed textiles are then hand torn into strips of approx 4cm x 20cm in size in preparation for shredding. It is important that the textiles are in strips for the shredding machine to be able to process efficiently - the shredding machine would not be able to break down whole garments (even though the metal teeth are huge & scary!).
7. Soften by soaking in veggie oil.
They are then pre- soaked in water and vegetable oil to soften the fibres which allows them to be easily broken down when being shredded.
The soaked textile strips are then fed into the shredding machine which has large rotating cylinders lined with metal teeth, which pull and shred the textile strips apart to reveal the wool fibres.
9. Combine with other recycled man-made fibres for length and strength.
The resulting fibres are then dried and blended with a smaller percentage of recycled polyester from pre-loved polyester garments. This is done to increase the average length of each fibre, as the shredding process involved in the fibre recovery tends to result in shorter fibres which can make re-spinning and weaving challenging.
10. Blend in a carding machine.
The blended fibres are then moved into the carding machine. This is a mechanical process that detangles, cleans and intermixes fibres to produce a continuous web or sliver suitable for spinning into yarn.
11. Spin the yarn on cones.
The next step is to spin the yarn. This involves twisting together the drawn out slivers of fibres from the carding machine to form yarn. It is then wound onto bobbins or cones ready to use in the weaving process (hooray!)
12. Test Yarn
Each batch of yarn with this process is then taken to the testing lab to be tested for yarn strength, fibre content, twist, weight and colour fastness to wet and dry rubbing.
Once the yarn has passed all the tests, a warp is created for each of our designs which is then fed onto the loom, ready for weaving.
14. Hand-roll the fringing.
We are extremely proud of the whole process that goes into making our Recycled Wool Blankets, but one thing we truly love is they are hand-finished! Blankets and scarves are typically finished by machine for perfection; however, ours are a little more rustic because they are hand-rolled by a team of women. Learning from our Indian partner mill about how they operate, we found that they do have the machines and infrastructure to finish the blankets to a higher standard, but choose to have them hand-rolled by a team of women instead. This supports a growing industry in India as so many women seek employment, and we are pleased to be supporting this. It is important that throughout our supply chain we support the planet and its people.
15. Washed & Finished
The lengths of woven fabric are then washed with gentle wool detergents 3 times to remove any oil or residue, dried and pressed to give a soft but durable finish.
16. Cutting to size, applying our branded elements & packing
The lengths of fabric are then cut to blankets, with our recycled branded label & swing ticket attached. A final QC is done at this stage to ensure our blankets are ready to be sold.
The blanket is welcomed into your home, ready to give you lots of cosy and slow evenings with those you love!