Sunday, August 14, 2016

Vacation Day 6

Saturday arrived sunny, no rain, no big heat so a friend and I decided to take a trip to Faribault, MN for a tour of their famous woolen mill. They are located right next to a river as manufacturing back at their start in 1865 needed a waterway for power and/or transportation. It's a pretty large factory by now and even though they closed and changed owners in recent years they are back in business with over 100 employees. We couldn't wait to see what was inside.

They start you out in their factory store where you get to see the end product but also some of their sewing machines that are retired:
Double needle Singer

Singer 29 with hand carnk
I'm not too familiar with industrial sewing machines but they looked vaguely familiar. Here's one that many of us have in our homes:
It didn't have a belt so no sewing on this one but the handwheel did move freely. What would we find on the tour? Lots and lots of fiber and huge machines!
Wool fiber that has gone through many steps just to get to this stage, ready for a loom
Note cones of fiber on top now much smaller

Getting towards the end, another sample of their work
Each square of the border of this sign is a sample of their work in the last 150 years
For an hour long tour, I'm not going to be able to recreate all of the steps that go into making wool into blankets but of the 22 steps it's safe to say they know what they are doing and it gives you new respect for the fine woolen products they sell. Here's a sewing machine that was found is several places, I think I saw at least 5 of them:

I believe they were foot powered with foot shaped pedals. Some were used to sew leaders onto the beginning of a new section of wool to feed into a machine. Even though it is a working factory, on Saturday all was clean and quiet. They also have tours on Friday where you get to see everything working so I would like to go back for one of those tours next time.

Once I got home I started to tackle the cases for the Singer 99 repaint and a bentwood case for the Singer 201 that is getting picked up in two weeks. I hoped to just restore the bentwood case but there were many large spots where the finish was gone so I bit the bullet and just stripped it all off, using about 5 steel wool pads and about 45 minutes of work:
Larger size bentwood case for a Singer 201 (or other full sized sewing machine)
This not only takes off the finish but the decals come off, too, so I will be ordering a new one from Keeler Sales. This case will look so perfect when it is done it's really worth the effort. Now the box top for the Singer 99 is all ready for the next step of filling in the stitch holes on the top. That's right, they actually stitch the leather like cover through the wood!
Covering removed and wood sanded smooth
I decided to paint it black and gold like the machine, plus this wood is not meant to be shown. Even with scrubbing the glue off it has stained the wood. I'm happy with the progress so far.

Our day ended with ordering out for pizza but, after all, I am still on vacation. So you might be wondering if I bought any wool at the Faribault Woolen Mill. Actually, my friend bought some wool as per a daughter's request but I did not, not knowing how I would use it. If you looked at my huge stash of fabric you would wonder how I could say that since I don't have firm plans for all of my fabric but I can always go back if I get an idea. Besides, I told my husband, because I didn't buy any fabric why not spend that money on a pizza? Yea, he liked that idea, too.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

I just found your blog. I loved the pics of the mill! The fabric I purchase at JoAnn Fabrics is all made in India or China. I'm happy to see there are still fabric mills operating in the US. I'm going to have to visit :-)