Where have I been? I can’t believe my last blog post was in *gasp* April!! I’m very out of practice. I had an unintentional blog hiatus. Nothing is wrong at chez Loopy Knits….everything is right. My husband was given the “all clear” by his doctor! So, with his new-found energy and positive outlook, we are doing things. We are doing things that have been on hold for a long, long time. So, we have been very busy…hence the blog hiatus.
What has brought me back to the blog? Well, I have something to share. I want to talk about this place, Belfast Mini-Mills, in Belfast, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Behind this humble entrance is a treasure trove.
I should explain that this is not just a store. This is a mill. They process exotic fibers from around the world, such as yak, camel, alpaca, llama, cashmere, bison, musk-ox and mohair…oh, and sheep wool. I know this is true because I saw it!! Despite the fact that we arrived only an hour before closing, we were given a tour of the mill. I saw bags and bags of cashmere (pictured below)!
I also saw bags of qiviut! I’m not kidding!!
The owners invented the “cottage industry” machinery they use. This enables them to process fiber in smaller batches than larger commercial mills. Larger commercial mills will combine fleece. So, you might get your own fiber back, but in combination with others. However, when you send your fleece to the Belfast Mini Mill, you can be sure that you get your own processed fiber back. In fact, Belfast Mini Mills has developed 27 other mini mills world-wide!
The mill process begins with cleaning, carding, and drafting the fibers. As it goes through the machinery, the wool is collected in another small room. They have spinning equipment, which was fascinating. They also produce wool felt, and make up needle felting kits.
Then, there were the animals.
As we were given a tour of the mill, my daughter was given a tour of the farm. She was ecstatic! She was responsible for carefully collecting nine eggs, from the nests in the hen house. Apparently there were tiny baby chicks that were white in colour. My daughter fell in love with a very cute, *free*, bunny. We did not come home with it, fortunately. The bunnies really were cute though, and run freely around the barnyard.
Then there was the store.
They had all kinds of exotic yarns. The cashmere almost seemed ordinary!! Those are alpaca/nylon socks in the upper left hand corner. They also had superwash wool socks, and I came home with a pair for my husband. I forgot to take a picture of the wall o’ socks.
They also sell needle felting kits, as I mentioned, mittens, gorgeous woven hand towels (pictured), which I almost bought, soaps, wool dyes, books, dyed roving, blankets… This is a woven, merino wool blanket that my mother bought:
They had qiviut socks, if you want to really splurge! So, so, soft…
Too pricey? Here are musk-ox leather pouches containing qiviut samples.
Would you like to see what I bought?
I got two skeins of 100% camel down. It is so soft, I had to take it home. It was $20/skein. I also got this:
That’s two skeins of chunky merino wool, $8/skein. I also got a wool dyeing starter kit for $20. I can’t wait to give it a try.
I decided to include prices I paid, because I don’t think they have that kind of information on their website. I have no affiliation to this place whatsoever; however, I had great fun there, and I thought that others might be interested in hearing about it. It’s worth a visit, or a phone call. I have linked to their website, but I also have their business card. Comment here, if you would like me to forward their phone number or email address. Gotta love PEI!