Brookside Woolen Mill is one of the last complete woolen mills left in the USA. We Skirt, dust, scour, dry, beat, card, shred, felt, roll and ship; all from our facility.
We start the process with good ol’ Montana wool. It comes to our mill on trucks, pickups, suburbans and one day a 1963 Harley Davidson with a sidecar… We get it in burlap bags, wool packs, garbage bags and stuffed into the back of mini-vans... It is skirted, pulling off tags, clumps, vegetable waste stuck to the wool. The wool can be sorted by class, type, colour and any custom parameters we need to use. It is then run through a duster. This is a pickup size rotor machine with fingers that knock the poop, dirt and excess junk out of the wool. Making fleeces into pieces. It gently pulls the fleeces apart, allowing bigger parts to become smaller parts allowing for a nice even scour...The leavings from this machine are fine pieces of manure, wool, seeds and chaff. We compost it (high temp to kill seeds) and send it to the neighboring nursery for roses and plant stuff.
After the wool is dusted it runs through the scouring train. Our Scouring train is an antique, it’s a CS Sargent 4 bowl system. It is 120 feet long and weighs a touch over 105 tons… Yes, we built the building around it. We use straight Dawn dish soap to wash wool. It’s safe to use on live animals in oil spills, so it’s a natural choice for wool. It is biodegradable, affordable and works great. The wool travels through 4 basins of hot water, dunked rather than agitated, so as not to felt. One soapy wash and 3 clean rinses. This gives us an amazingly clean wool. From the wash, we dry and run it through a beartooth picker. This combs the chunks, shreds and mats and makes the wool easy to handle and go to the next process…
Carding, a card is a series of toothed rollers, set at gaps of 12-40 thousandths of an inch, running at different speeds. This is the major cleaning process of wool. It combs all the wool fibres into a parallel bat the width of the card. With some special modifications to our card, we have been able to adjust the thickness of our bats on a continuous roll.
After the card, this depends on the end use of the wool. For our Montana Pure pillows, we run the wool through our custom built pillow builder (got lots of time into making this work right) This makes an amazingly lofty pillow, ready to ship to your door.
If we make our Bio-Wix reclamation and growth mats, the wool bat off the card is felted into our Bio-Wix mat. This is used on mine sites, road and creek banks, fire reclamation, yards, golf courses, slopes and anyplace grass and plants needs to grow. We were in a 3 year DOT/WTI study, and our Bio-Wix mats were the top!! (See the results on our Brookside Woolen Mill Facebook page) We are working on a seed impregnated mat and vegetable strips as well, keep up with us on Facebook for details.
The other felted wool products we work with are mattress pads, duvets, mattresses and bedding products. We have also done some government work with bulletproof wool plates and other ‘different’ uses of wool. If you have a different project, please let us know and we can visit about it! We love ideas about non-traditional wool uses!
Click on the links below to watch videos of our product!
Wool Bats coming off our Custom Built Card