Woolrich is proud to be the oldest continuously operating vertical woolen mill in the United States of America. Since 1830, Woolrich has produced fine quality woolen fabric - raw wool enters our mill and, after several processes, is woven into the superior fabric that is synonymous with Woolrich. Watch our mill video to witness the process of making wool first-hand.
Fiber is sheared from animals and twisted into yarn for weaving. Raw wool enters our mill and, after several processes, is woven into the superior fabric that is synonymous with Woolrich.
Here, the spun yarn is dyed to the correct color needed for weaving. Large kettles can dye up to 150 spools of yarn at the same time. Dying time varies depending on color and weight of yarn.
At the beginning of the process, the bales are opened and different types of wool - from the U.S., England, New Zealand, and other parts of the globe - are mixed in the right proportions for the fabric being created.
The wool is carded by passing it through a machine with rows of teeth that straighten and interblend the fibers into a flat band. If it is a worsted fabric, the flat band is combed to make the fibers lie parallel to one another. The band is made into a soft, loose cord that is wound around a large spool.
During the process of carding, a single yarn is formed by twisting together two or more single threads. This yarn is then wound on a twisting tube in preparation for the next step.
During the process of cone winding, the spun wool yarn is placed on cones. Those are conical shaped bobbins made of plastic or paper. The speed of the bobbins is controlled so that a yarn with a soft even slub is ready for weaving.
The warp is the yarn that runs lengthwise in a woven fabric. During this process the yarns are arranged in parallel order on a beam in preparation for weaving. The yarns are combed and straightened so that the proper weave is produced. This process is used when new warp with the same weave pattern is placed onto an existing weave loom.
Depending on the type of patterns and/or fabric required, the colored yarns are selected to be set up on the weaving machines. The yarns are woven together and the finished cloth is washed to remove machine grease and dirt from handling.
Removal of loose threads, knots, slubs, burs and other extraneous materials by means of burling iron, a type of tweezers, occurs at the burling/mending station. The trick is to remove the impurity without damaging the fabric. After weaving and prior to finishing, any lumps [burls], knits or loose threads are removed by hand.
Using warm water and soap, the wool is scoured thoroughly to remove dirt and grease. It may take four or five scourings and rinses to get the wool clean.
Finished fabric is rolled on various bolts depending on final application. Many bolts are shipped just 15 minutes away to our finishing facility and turned into the quality blankets which the Woolrich name has become famous for worldwide. Other fabric is cut and sent to crafters and civil war re-enactors. A full line of fabric is available to purchase by-the-yard.