A Summer's Day at John Arbon Textiles Mill

A Summer's Day at John Arbon Textiles Mill

Author Ange Sewell

Back in July this year we had a great morning learning about how John Arbon Textiles create their fantastic range of yarns and fibre.

We've known John, Juliet and the team for a couple of years know after chatting to them at shows and using their yarn for our handwoven collection in the past.

When we mentioned to John we were going to be in North Cornwall for our holidays he said why don't we visit the mill and so we did.

The mill is based in South Molton (and they have a shop in Lynton, North Devon), and we made it there on a rather hot day in July.

The first thing you notice when you get into the mill is the sheer volume of fibre that they process.

All the fibre waiting to be spun Fibre waiting for the next stage 

The fibre is dyed and scoured elsewhere but all the carding, combing, blending and spinning occurs at the mill.

There is a fantastic range of old and the occasional new machine at the mill and each one has it's own name.

Chapman the carding machine

The fibre is carded first before being combed and carded ready for spinning.

 Combing and Blending Machines

When we were there they were spinning up some of the shades for the Knit by Numbers range.

 Butler spinning Knit by Numbers Yarn

The singles spun on Butler are then transferred to cone and then go on to be plied together.

Plying time 

Then the final stage of the process is the yarn being wound onto the skein using the oldest machine in the mill that's over 100 years old.

 Skeining action

It was fantastic to get a tour around how the mill works and also to hear John's amazing knowledge and passion about creating yarn and ensuring the high quality that goes into every skein they produce.

The fantastic quality of their yarn was the reason it was first on our list to stock when we were planning adding yarn to Weft Blown.

I had used it before for weaving cowls when I was doing a wholesale collection.

Handwoven cowls using Knit by Numbers yarn

It weaves up so soft thanks to the 100% organic merino wool from the Falkland Islands that the yarn is made from.

It's been great fun seeing customers come into our shop and falling in love with it too and we're hoping to start getting people elsewhere to find the love for this yarn.

So, starting in January we are going to do a blog post for a handwoven scarf using this yarn and you will get a free pattern that will work on both rigid heddle and table looms. 

This is the start of a new monthly blog post where we will be releasing a free pattern for weaving and we hope that this will be a way to help you to weave more. And there may also be a cowl pattern with instructions on how to make them later in the year.

We have to give a huge thanks to John and the rest of the team for taking time out for us in July to let us see how they create their amazing yarn.

They do mill tours on their open days which is on 8th and 9th June next year. It's really worth it to go and see what they do, and Lynton and nearby Lynmouth is well worth a visit too.