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The little wool factory

The "Little Wool Factory" is situating the overall wool process mapping and add practices ranging from large scale industries to small scale independent initiatives to better understand the required equipment and ideate on how it can be reproduced with digital fabrication equipment, providing blueprints and tutorials on assembling open source tools and machines for setting up small scale wool microfactories.
This experimentation, building and learning moment is an important step towards building DIY machines that can handle small wool quantities to be tested and feeds the replicability of the tools for the labs and the lab-to-lab projects.

What has been done until here?

Collection of tools
After personal on-site research at the Icelandic Wool Factory, Alafoss in 2019, FarmLab Visit in Austria 2019, Wool Initiative at Basque country 2021, we could better comprehend the steps required and infrastructures needed for creating a Little Wool Factory, from sorting Wool and cleaning the debris, washing, storing, wool picking, wool carding, Spinning for yarns, felting for non wovens. Then, looking at DIY practices, tools were identified especially for the most common making phase for textile designers, i-e from spinning to looming and knitting. Some of them have already been tested in the Fabricademy community like The Hilo spinning machine, or the loom from the Be grounded project, the fabloom project among others. There is a specific week in Fabricademy that invite students to learning about those specific machines and working on re-developing or hacking them. Apart from those steps, a wide range of tools has been created for agriculture purposes that could be applied in the early stage of the process of wool collection. Websites and open source platforms such as Wikifactory, Open source ecology, or ifixit could help to find the right documentation. An original project, from Fabricademy Alumna Sofia Guridi, (FILT) has created a machine for felting shredded textile waste and thus focusing on facilitating the end of life of the process. Partners identified that the DIY version of one relevant tool was missing on the process: the carding machine.

Learning activities with wool tool making
- Applying and replicating existing tutorials: For the Rewool discovery workshop, Redu worked closely with IAAC to successfully replicate a number of digitally fabricated tools (spinning and weaving tools) coming from the Fabricademy research portfolio and open source fabrication files. They were built by the researchers and used in the event to weave and spin single strains of wool.
Get to know more here)
- Open source Hard Week at Fabricademy 2021: Students have explored and assembled the new Hilo machine.
Get to know more here

Making and assembling tools
- Assembling a DIY carding tool and accessories:
The first tools created are a DIY carding/blending tool and a hand spindle. These were created by the Amsterdam University of Applied Science, tested and experimented upon during the Local BioChromes workshop held in August 2021. Experimentation started with a DIY carding cloth and brush, to experiment together and teach others how to card wool fleece and how to mix (also defined as blend) the naturally dyed dutch wool, creating a new range of carded wool colours. After the carding tool, experimentation was brought one step further with a DIY hand spindle, to learn and teach how wool is spun by hand. This has been explored deeper by Shannon from Onlfait.

From the overview created by tool mapping and first experimentations, the remaining strategy relies on identifying which tools are interesting for a DIY reproduction, why and what is possible to do in the timeframe of the project. Working with connected labs to design and replicate will extend those first experiments and extend the perimeter of the Little Wool Factory and the usability of the small household scale machines and at the same time promote the use of shared infrastructures (fablabs) for engaging with communities interested in wool craft; engaging women in making and using the machines.

Let's build our Matrix of tools

Matrix of tools

Type of tools 1st reference 2nd reference 3rd reference 4rd reference
Carding DIY drop spindle Carding Machine Cardo project
Spinning Hilo spinning machine 1.0 hilo spinning machine 2.0 Spinning Wheel
Weaving DIY Laser cut Loom (S) DIY Laser cut Loom (M) Walter Gonzales Loom Automated OS Loom
Knitting Open Knit Machine
Knitting Open Knit Machine
Felting Felting by Hand Felting with soap DIY Felt machine
Other craft techniques Tufting
Upcycling FILT

Last update: May 4, 2022